The Joy of Almonds. Five Fun Facts!

Almonds

Well stuff my cheek pouches and call me Nutty! I am on a super almond kick lately. Like. Super. Now that I’m Little Miss Hansons Method and am ramping up marathon training, I find that they are the perfect snack to stash away in my purse, gym bag, car, desk, mailbox- wherever- for whenever a Serious Snack Attack strikes. Which for me lately, is practically every hour. I don’t have to tell you about Tina and nuts. Ever since that time she turned into Sherman Klump before running the Philadelphia Marathon, I’ve sort of forbid her to eat any nuts near me. Which means ALL THE NUTS for Colby. Now that’s a friend. 🙂  The happy folks over at nuts.com inspired us to write a piece on almonds. I couldn’t wait to chomp right down on it..

I guess they figured we were health nuts.
*pause*
{She’ll be here all night! Tip your server!}

I slay me.

Here are 5 Fun Facts About My Favorite Powerful Little Nut, The Almond!

  1. Peaches and almonds are cousins.  Shocker, right?!?!? Who knew! The nut that we eat (in my case, by the fist full) is the hard-shelled fruit of the almond tree. Think of it like a stone fruit. Cherry, plum, peach….ALMOND. Mind. Blown.
    Behold! Young almonds. Photo: Wikipedia

    Behold! Young almonds. Photo: Wikipedia

     Mature Almond. Photo: Wikipedia

    Behold! Mature Almond. Photo: Wikipedia

  2. Almonds are some of the lowest-calorie nuts around. YAHOO!  Almonds pack 160 calories, 9 grams of mono-unsaturated, heart-healthy fats, 6 grams of protein and 3.5 grams of fiber per 1 ounce serving. And, they’re LOADED with the antioxidant vitamin E.  That’s E for EXCELLENT. Go Almonds! They’re about neck and neck with pistachios and cashews in the calorie department. Eat ’em in moderation folks. They’re easy to binge on. RHOBH Brandy
  3. Almonds were used as a Fertility Charm.  In ancient Rome, newlyweds were showered with ‘em. LIGHTBULB. So THAT’S why at every single Italian baby shower or bridal shower I’ve ever gone to, there are little tulle pouches of almonds- Jordan Almonds specifically!!
    5 Jazzy Almonds. Photo: Pinterest.

    5 Jazzy Almonds. Photo: Pinterest.

    Total ah-ha! moment here! Traditionally, five Jordan Almonds are wrapped in tulle and tied with a ribbon.  And usually, at least in my Italian circles, there are usually 5 in a bag.  According to my very shallow internet reseach, the 5 almonds represent happiness, health, wealth, fertility and long life. They’re given in an odd number to represent the indivisibility of the marriage bond. Why fertility? Because those little guys are egg shaped. Awww. I once chipped my tooth biting into a Jordan Almond at a bridal shower. But. I still love them.

  4. Almonds are considered BRAINFOOD. Smarty pants! I’m guessing they’re considered healthy brain food because they are rich in healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids), vitamin B6 and in the anti-oxidant, vitamin E. The 3 of which are thought to improve brain health.  Raw almonds are loaded with omega-3s. Eat up. And before you know it, you’ll be doing the New York Times crossword with a pen. (One of us does already. Hint: It’s Tina, not me.)

    Photo: Nuts.com

    Photo: Nuts.com

  5. Almonds are delicious. Duh. Especially in granola. And super especially if you make your own. Which is a snap. Just ask the Barefoot Contessa. I really dig this recipe- Cherry, Almond, Coconut, Oats, Honey…..DELISH. Use tart cherries and you’ll be rocking the whole Super Food Thing. Don’t like apricots?  Ditch ‘em. It’s your Almond Granola. You do you. That’s the beauty of homemade. Yum.
Photo: Food Network

Photo: Food Network

Homemade Granola. Courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 cups sliced almonds
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup good honey
  • 1 1/2 cups small diced dried apricots
  • 1 cup small diced dried figs
  • 1 cup dried (tart) cherries
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews

 Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Toss the oats, coconut, and almonds together in a large bowl. Whisk together the oil and honey in a small bowl. Pour the liquids over the oat mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated. Pour onto a 13 by 18 by 1-inch sheet pan. Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even, golden brown, about 45 minutes.
  •  Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Add the apricots, figs, cherries, cranberries, and cashews. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container.
  •  (Inspired by Sarah Chase’s Open House Cookbook.)

What’s your favorite nut? How often do you snack while marathon training? Do you do the crossword puzzle with a pen?

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Sherman Klump Runs a Marathon. Or, How to Avoid a Severe Allergic Reaction Before Running 26.2 Miles.

keep-calm-and-grab-the-epipen

The short answer is: Stay the hell out of goddamn 7-11.

I know exactly what you’re thinking:  What in the name of anaphylaxis is going on here?!?!?  Believe me, I was thinking it too. I may have even been screaming it out loud. Or at least I was in my head. I couldn’t alarm The Patient. All I can say to the makers of Benadryl is:

Thank You.
Thank you.
And did I say, Thank you?

I would send them a singing telegram if only I could hire Mr. Peanut to tap dance, juggle EpiPens and croon my deepest thanks. Instead this post will have suffice. Oh, I’ve got a story for ya.

Tina, our dear friend Diva Cindi, and I headed to Philadelphia this past weekend to get our Rocky on and run the full (Tina) and half (Colby and Diva Cindi) Philadelphia Marathon. We had this shit all planned for months. In fact, Tina has already posted her race recap which I strongly suggest you read HERE. Tina had registered for the full and I decided, “What the hell?” and registered for the half. I peer pressured Diva Cindi into it too. Like all BRFs do. (Best Running Friends, for those not “in the know”.) Perfect.

Girls Weekend at the Ritz!
Running!
Laughing!
Celebrating!
Drinking copious amounts of beer post race!
Hair braiding and tickle fights!
YEAY ESTROGEN!

This was our 2014 race season swan song. Secretly, I had planned on running my little heart out. I had my eye on a PR. But apparently my eye was also on an Achilles injury post ultra marathon, followed by an unrelated (surprise!) surgery which put me out of commission in the weeks leading up to the half. I’ll just put it this way: I haven’t had a good run lately. That is both literal and figurative. More on what is ailing me at another time. I promise. For me, this was either going to be the race of a lifetime or an absolute shit show. Total coin flip.

Tina on the other hand was prepared. Even though she said she didn’t feel like she was, I didn’t believe her. She always is. Trained and Tapered, Tina was ready. Somewhere along the Jersey Pike she exclaimed: I am really f*cking psyched for this marathon!  I *’ed out the profanity because it’s Tina. And she’s more Lady than Pirate, but put a couple of pints in that broad and she might as well have a patch on her eye and a hook for a hand. 20141126-061130-22290438.jpgSee us at the Expo all smilely and stuff? Christ, we are buzzing with excitement. That’s why it’s blurry. We mill around. Test stuff out. Buy a new, rad Janji cap from my friend Dave, laugh our heads off and realize we haven’t eaten. I glance at Tina. She is slightly dazed and pale.

What do you need?

She says she needs Gatorade. I suggest we eat. Because we haven’t. And someone is running awfully far in the morning. For as smart as our mother’s think we are, we are fools. Hypoglycemic, amateur fools. We head out. And walk promptly into a Goddamn Wawa 7-11. {Note: I now hate Goddamn 7-11s. I do love Wawas.) Tina makes a bee line for the Gatorade and chugs 32oz like she was at frat party in the mid-90s.

She heads to the nut aisle.

It is here Dear Reader, that our story takes a precipitous turn for the worst.
I hear this, with traces of a Boston accent:

{Perturbed} Plantah’s Almonds are $2 more?!?! I’m not paying two extra goddamn dollahs for a peanut wearin’ a top hat. No sir!!!

Instead of buying the brand she has eaten before, she buys the off brand nuts.

Meanwhile, en route to the Ritz, two dollahs richer, she reads the back of the bag as a PERSON WITH SEVERE ALLERGIES DOES, decides it’s fine, rips it open and downs the pack.

We leave.

{Small voice} I feel like I swallowed a nut wrong.

WHAT?

We walk.
She trips on a curb.
We make eye contact.
She’s quiet.
I arch an eyebrow.
We’re in the room.

{Wheezes calmly.} I am having an allergic reaction.

Diva Cindi and I look up from our race swag. sherman clump

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Holy allergic reaction. She has morphed into Sherman Klump, the Nutty Professor. Her eye BALLOONS. Right before our very eyes. This is serious. Diva Cindi dives in her purse and throws two Bendryl and a packet of Equal at her. OH MY GOD TINA GRAB YOUR EPIPEN! Her response as she swallows the two Benedryl and a Claritin?

{Rasps} NO! If I use my EpiPen, I’ll have to go to the hospital and then I won’t be able to run tomorrow.

Now. There are 100s of responses to make upon hearing that nonsense, beginning with: I’ve called 911. They’re admitting you to an insane asylum after the epinephrine shot and steroids because you are being totally OUT OF YOUR EFFEN MIND. I JUST 5150’d YOUR CRAZY ASS!

Allergies are some scary stuff. They’re not funny. And believe me, if this story didn’t have a happy ending, I wouldn’t be calling her Sherman Klump. I’d be rocking in the corner, sucking my thumb, penning her eulogy and not posting this…

Because that’s what really happened. After several minutes post mega dose of Benedryl, she ASSURED us she could breathe. Her wheezing subsided. She still kind of looked like a starving puffer fish, but insisted she was feeling better. Instead, WE insisted she throw on her sunglasses for supper. For Christ sake, she was hideous. Besides, we needed to gain control of this ridiculous situation. Glasses on, Lady! We don’t care if it’s dark and you can barely see. We have an image to protect! BRFs. They RULE!

Thankfully, all ended well. After eating her height in pancakes, Chilly Willy put her swollen head on the table, and promptly nodded off in her syrup. She woke up radiant, with a killer Benedryl hangover and proceeded to run one hell of a marathon. I have to be honest. She qualified for Boston her first time running a marathon yet, I am more proud of her for running Philly. There is no one like her. And I’m honored she is my best friend.

Her allergist appointment is next week just after my cardiologist appointment and short stint in rehab to combat Xanax and alcohol addiction. She kills me that goddamn Tina.