Last week, Georgia had her (very belated) 18-month checkup. In addition to hearing that my baby who once wouldn’t gain weight is now in the 65th percentile (!), I was thrilled to get the green light on introducing almond milk and other nut products to her diet. Why? Because, pre-Georgia, that was all we used! We were not milk (or even really dairy) consumers, and buying three cartons of cow’s milk every week has honestly been one of the weirdest adjustments for me to make when grocery shopping. We always follow her pediatrician’s directions on food, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been excited about the prospect of one day trying things like sushi, tofu, smoothies, natural nut butters and almond milk together, which I always loved before having her.
New evidence, which our pediatrician pointed to, shows that children who are exposed to peanut products earlier in life may have a lowered risk of developing allergies later on. That, in combination with their nutritional value, is why our doctor encouraged us to offer Georgia all varieties of nut butters, flours, milks and crackers at home, now that she’s at an age where she can tolerate it. And I’m always excited to offer her new things to expand her palate.
When we gave her almond butter on apples and bananas, and made her a berry shake by pureeing frozen fruit with almond milk this week, she loved it! Now there’s so much more I can’t wait to try. And there are great reasons we use almond products beyond just the taste and the fact that I, like so many people, can’t digest lactose, or that eliminating cow’s milk (while adding exercise) has helped Mark resolve his once-serious acid reflux.
They are a great source of protein, which is important if you or your child eat little to no meat, and they are loaded with healthy fats, fiber, fewer calories than cow’s milk, and powerful antioxidants. By including plenty of calcium from sources like organic, low-sugar yogurt and real cheddar cheese in your toddler’s diet, you can confidently replace some of their cow’s milk with almond milk every day.
What are some of the ways we use almonds, almond butter, almond milk, and almond flour in our home?
- A post-workout shake that I created for Mark
- A creamy, green, fruit smoothie for breakfast
- An afternoon pick-me-up while at work: I keep raw almonds and walnuts in my drawer at all times!
- This pasta dish with kale
- These tasty breakfast Muffins
- This better-for-you baked Mac n’ Cheese
- As a substitute for pricey pine nuts in Classic Pesto
- To make gluten-free treats for friends with dietary restrictions, since almond flour is naturally free of gluten and can seamlessly sub for wheat flour in baking recipes
- In lieu of cow’s milk as a drink or in almost any recipe. I blend almond milk with one banana and a dash of cinnamon for Georgia, and she loves it!
We also love Martha Stewart’s Five-Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, which uses 1 cup almond butter, 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 2 large eggs and 1/2 tsp coarse salt. You mix together the almond butter, chocolate chips, sugar, eggs and salt until a dough forms, preheat the oven to 350, drop tablespoon-sized dollops of dough about an inch apart onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes or until the cookies puff up and the tops are set. After cooling on a wire rack, you can store these in an airtight container for up to three days!
I’m so glad Georgia been an adventurous eater so far, and I can’t wait to keep discovering new foods together.
Nuts.com gave me the opportunity to share this infographic on the health benefits of almonds here on OrganicGlory. As with all such posts, opinions are my own, and I never endorse anything my family doesn’t already love. Please check with your doctor or pediatrician to make sure you follow their guidelines on when and how to introduce nuts to your family diet.
How about you — how do you cook, bake and snack with Almonds or other nuts? Do your kiddos like them?