Packaged almonds are available year around, but now it's time for fresh almonds in Lebanon! We refer to almonds as nuts, but in fact, they are technically the seeds of the fruits of almond trees, which are actually cousins of peach, cherry and apricot trees! The fruits that almonds tree bear have pits or seeds, which, at the 1st stage of maturation, are gelatinous and milky but during this time of year, they become solid white, fully formed, fresh and crunchy! Almonds have been part of the human diet from immemorial times and their intake increase in Lebanon, especially during summery days!
Almonds contain a high percentage of proteins (13.3%) bearing in mind that this is a vegetable product while meat and fish possess between 15 and 20 g for each 100 g. They also contain fat for more than half of almonds weight is formed of predominantly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Almonds are relatively rich in vitamin B 1, vitamin B 6 and above all vitamin E as well as almonds are among the richest plant based foods in calcium and phosphorus with significant amounts of magnesium, potassium and iron.
Almonds, freshly picked from the tree and shelled, can be eaten as they are. They are more digestible that dried almonds and I usually use my teeth to open them, but using a nut cracker is definitely safer. As for dried almonds, the moisture content would be reduced and thus they become hard. They can be eaten raw but when very well chewed, or lightly toasted. They can be easier to chew and digest is soaked overnight. The next morning they will have become tender and after removing the skin that covers them, they give the sensation of having been freshly picked from the tree, yet we all know, deep down inside, that it's not the same fresh taste!
During afternoons or night gatherings in Lebanon, most people enjoy cracking almond fruits, along with sipping beer. However, keep in mind that almonds contain 589 calories in 100 grams and therefore you can get around 200 calories in just 1/4 cup!
So think about it! With just 1 beer = 150 calories, and just 1/2 a cup of almonds = 400 calories, you'll end up with - believe it or not - 550 calories worth of mindless munching!