In every F&W issue of 2013, this column will introduce a new pantry item to expand your repertoire.
The health benefits of almonds are myriad and well documented. They’re high in protein, vitamin E, fiber, and minerals such as magnesium, selenium, manganese, zinc, potassium, iron, phosphorus and calcium (commercial almond milks are often fortified with extra calcium). There’s evidence that almond milk helps to lower LDL cholesterol and protect against heart disease. It is relatively low in calories and has zero saturated fats, making it a good choice for maintaining a healthy weight.
I like it because it tastes great and adds richness to lots of dishes. In F&W’s January “Handbook” section, I created a bunch of recipes that use almond milk—some sweet and some savory. Though the substitutions may not be universal, they are pretty wide and varied. On the sweet side, I created a dairy-free Banana-Almond Milk “Soft Serve” ice cream, using almond milk, frozen bananas (already pretty creamy), honey and crystallized ginger, all pureed in a food processor. Then, I topped it with a yummy, Warm Chocolate-Almond Sauce, made very much like a classic ganache, which is just chocolate and cream. But I subbed out the cream with almond milk and a drop of almond extract. Almond milk was also great in place of cow milk in my Almond-Milk Rice Pudding, in which I cooked sushi-rice risotto-style using almond milk and a bit of sugar. Since almonds and cherries are a classic pairing, I topped the pudding with sweet-tart cherry preserves. Divine!