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Nutrition: Some almonds a day...
Nutrition: Some almonds a day...

When it comes to nuts, I'm a big fan, regularly tossing pine nuts or walnuts into pasta dishes, rolling fish in crushed hazelnuts and keeping  a container of mixed nuts (or whatever is my current favourite) in my desk drawer for afternoon snacks. So I was disappointed when I couldn't make it to last week's demonstration here in Toronto by the Almond Board of California. A top chef, pastry chef and drink mixologist were highlighting creative ways to cook, bake and drink with almonds. Though I wasn't able to attend the event, I did get some of the recipes (which you can link to below)—and some almonds—so decided to try out a couple of the dishes from Toronto chef Anthony Rose.

First up, dinner on Saturday: the Lemon Roasted Halibut with Crunchy Spring Mix (pictured above). As luck would have it, there was  early Ontario asparagus at the farmers' market, so I mixed it with peas, snow peas and  lots of sliced almonds—an easy-to-make, spring-tasting accompaniment to the lemony fish. (Sorry chef Rose: I did cut way back on the butter in the veggies, and on the oil in the accompanying quinoa—it still tasted great.)

Then for Sunday (yes, I was keen), went for the Warm Mushroom and Beetroot Salad drizzled with a delicious Toasted Almond and Mustard Dressing. Rather than an appetizer on its own, I served it on a bed of spinach, arugula and radish sprouts as dinner—with some leftover halibut on the side. (Again, I cut back on the butter in the warm mushrooms, and I substituted a portobello for the hen of the woods mushrooms called for.) For next weekend, I've picked up a butternut squash to make Almond Crusted Pumpkin Fritters.

Why eat almonds in particular? Well, they deliver dietary fibre, calcium and protein. As well, they're loaded with antioxidants. A study done by Tufts University in Boston showed volunteers with elevated cholesterol levels who ate 73 grams (a large handful) of almonds daily reduced levels of two biomarkers for oxidative stress—the damage that occurs with an excess of free radicals in the body.

For more almond recipes, try our 10 Tasty Ways to Cook With Nuts, Nutty and Fruity Quinoa Salad and Chocolate and Almond Smoothie.

What's your favourite way to add almonds—or any kind of nuts—to your day?

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