Thursday, February 17, 2011

Almonds, Almonds Everywhere! Almond Meal, Almond Flour, Almond Milk



BFF calls me today and says, "I found a gluten free recipe that called for almond meal on Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and I found Almond Meal at Trader Joes!" I hadn't seen that site before (I need to check it out further) but I HAD discovered almond meal, especially at Trader Joes. That's a good one to get.

Almond meal was one of the first flours I started to work with after finding out that Little D couldn't have gluten, almost a year ago. It is also one of my favorites as a "main flour". A post is to follow on my favorite flours and how I use them. Almonds are a great source of magnesium, vitamin E, monounsatuated fat, and fiber amond other things. If you or someone you cook and bake for has trouble with tree nuts, don't use almond flour. 

My mom actually is the one who told me about it. She is a total Vitamix Addict and was able to make her own flours among other things. Since then she was amazingly generous and bought me my very own Vitamix and I've joined her at Addict Status ever since I opened the box. Thanks Mom! xoxox
Almond flour is made by grounding up blanched almonds, or almonds without the skins. Almond meal and almond flour are great baking alternatives to wheat, if you aren't allergic or intollerant to nuts. I have to remember not to share my almond flour treats with those friend who have kids with nut allergies. I can't pack anything for my son at school that contains nuts or dairy because of kids with major allergies to those specific ingredients.
Almond meal can be made both with whole or blanched almonds and is more dense like cornmeal. To blanch almonds you basically put almonds in a bowl, pour boiling water over them, until they are covered,and let them sit for a minute or so. Then drain and peel off the almond skins. You can use this stuff in baking, and cooking. You can use it in cookies, breads, and even as a topping on casseroles and lasagna. Use it in place of bread crumbs when called for in a recipe.

Almond Milk is one of my most favorite substitutions for cows milk next to Rice Milk. Use rice milk, soy, or coconut if you or someone eating your food is allergic or intolerant to almonds or other nuts.
Here is a great website for recipes using the stuff that helped me get started:

You can use Almond Flour or Meal in most recipes that I post. When subsituting wheat flour for a gluten free flour in any recipe, say 2 1/2 cups flour, simply try replacing with the flour of your choice (such as almond flour), or make a mixture. For example: 1 1/2 cups almond flour, 1 cup tapioca flour. The one flour that I found is a bit more challenging is the Coconut flour. Bob's Redmill says, "You can replace up to 20% of the flour called for in a recipe with Coconut Flour, adding an equivalent amount of additional liquid to the recipe." Use more than that and it is dry as wood chips! Coconut Flour tends to soak up more of your liquid ingredients, which is why they say to add an equal amount of additional liquid to the recipe.
You will always need to add xanthan gum to any recipe where you aren't using a flour with gluten in it. It is recommended that you ad 1/2 tsp xanthan gum per cup of flour in your cakes, cookies or muffins and 1 tsp xanthan gum per cup of flour in your breads. I find I mostly go with the 1/2 tsp per cup in most everything.

Elana gives great information on how she uses Almond meal. I bought the brand she suggests on Amazon.com. She doesn't seem to get the same results using the Bob's Redmill Almond Flour. Elana also just came out with a gluten free cupcake cookbook: Gluten-Free Cupcakes: 50 Irresistible Recipes Made with Almond and Coconut Flour.  Check her out!

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