Sara Grafenauer is a dietitian, university lecturer and mum of two young twins. As one of the ambassadors for The Australian Almond Board, Sara loves to use almonds in cookery from breakfast through to sweet treats. We chatted with Sara about why almonds are such a great addition to a healthy diet.
So how do you like to eat almonds, Sara?
I love to use my mortar and pestle and smash the almonds up and then sprinkle them over my cereal. We sometimes do a banana split and I like sprinkling crushed almonds over the banana and ice-cream. I also use almond meal in cakes and biscuits. Actually, I often use it to replace flour in cakes and biscuits as almond meal give you better glycemic control. When you eat a cake based on flour it breaks down very quickly in your system.
What makes almonds such a great snack food?
A lot of people experience ‘three-thirty-itis’, which is when they get to that part of afternoon and need something to give them a boost of energy. Almonds are high in protein and fat but it’s an incredibly good fat for the body. So a handful of almonds and a piece of fruit will provide you with a great combination of nutrients, as well as being filling and tasty.
It’s important to eat some fat, isn’t fat? We don’t want to cut all the fat out of our diets.
Right. Actually studies have shown that when diets are below 30% fat they are just not satisfying.
So people end up cheating or abandoning their diets?
Yes. Good fats – unsaturated fats — are absolutely essential for a healthy diet.
For those that are very health-conscious, people who like to play a lot of sports, can almonds be part of your regular diet?
Absolutely. Almonds are great in the recovery phase. So after you’ve exercised you should re-hydrate with a glass of water and a snack. A handful of nuts is ideal because it is high in protein.
Why is that important?
Food that are high in protein help to restore any damage to the muscles, the proteins in your food break down in your system to amino acids which help muscle recovery.
Almonds are almost like a healthy convenience food, aren’t they?
Definitely. You can keep them in your bag or in the car for a quick and convenient snack.
In past years, there was conflicting advice over whether pregnant women should avoid nuts or not. But it’s actually fine for pregnant women to consume nuts, isn’t it?
That’s right. We’ve known for a while that one thing (i.e. a nut allergy) doesn’t connect with the other (i.e. mother eating nuts while pregnant). Nowadays women are encouraged to consume a normal diet and not to exclude anything, bar some foods where there is the risk of possible listeria, like soft cheese and raw seafood.
So how many almonds can you eat each day?
We recommend a healthy handful of 30grams a day, or about 20 almonds. Combined with a piece of fruit this gives you a very decent snack that will sustain you and keep you ticking on.