Get your nuts in, live longer.
Tree or Pea, it does not seem to matter what kind as long as you consume a good handful a day, allergies permitting.
For thirty years researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health studied 125,962 participants and their nut eating habits1. Lead research epidemiologist Dr Ying Bao, says that according to the study, those who ate nuts daily had a 20% reduction in death rate.
This means that the consumption of nuts was inversely associated with total mortality, independent of other predictors for death. The results looked pretty good for avoiding cancer, heart and resipiratory disease too. Nut eaters are….why not come right out with it ….. less fat than non-nut eaters.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines advise us to increase our nut consumption by 350% to meet the recommended 65-110g of nuts a day, which is about a handful. This amount won’t make you fat (in the short term and if you don’t cut them with palm oil and corn syrup) and evidence shows your serum cholesterol level will be significantly lowered2.
At Crackling Towers there is a “Narrow Eater” in residence who is a nut refusenik. There are concerns for his nutrient intake.
The recent summer in Western Australia was one of the driest and hottest on record and small boys are often are often thirsty after skateboarding home from school in the heat of the day. An idea was hatched.
Enter Orgeat: a cordial style beverage made from almonds, water, sugar and lemon peel. Readers may know it as the base of the Mai Tai cocktail.
The Moors brought the technique of infusing nut and seed pastes with water and aromatics to Europe in the middle ages. In northern Spain and Catalonia the drink is known as Horchata and can also be made from melon seeds, but the recipe used here comes from France therefore this drink is Orgeat, pronounced “Or-zsah”. Sounds fancy, doesn’t it?
Whilst the fibre from the almond flesh is not getting through the muslin cloth in to the final drink I am certain that the
- vitamin E
- mono and polyunsaturated fats
- minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus , copper and manganese
- and, of course omega 6 fatty acids
are getting through.
The almonds must be blanched, skinned and made in to a paste. It is important to soak the whole nuts first to get the fatty acids and vitamin E in to the drink via oil molecules. At the grinding stage the oil droplets from soaked almonds are released intact and disperse in to the continuous water phase of the nut milk, and in to the digestive system of the small boy3.
It smells divine, subtle and milky and refreshing all at once. However, It does go sludgy and it does separate. The trick was to shake the bottle well before use and serve with lots of ice, both for the small boy and for the adult dinner guests’ Mai Tai cocktail – dark rum, organge juice, lime and ginger beer top.
The Mai Tai was invented in the San Francisco Bay area in 1944 by bar tender Vic Bergeron aka Trader Vic. The first person to taste the new drink was from Tahiti, she exclaimed “Mai tai roa ae,” which means “out of this world.”
- 450g whole almonds, as fresh as possible as oils will degenerate over storage times, and the goodness is in the oils.
- 400g of sugar
- 600 ml water
- rind of two lemons
- special equipment, muslin, colander, blender
- Heat a pan of water and blanch the almonds for two minutes, drain and put on a clean tea-towel and rub them. Pinch the nuts to slip them out of their skins, which you discard.
- Soak them in cold water for two hours.
- Drain and grind them to a paste with 100 ml of fresh water in a blender.
- Put the remaining 500 ml of water in the blender and whizz again and pour the solution a colander lined with muslin or a thin tea towel placed over a large bowl.
- When the liquid has drained out, put the strained nut meal in to the bowl, mix it around a bit and repeat the straining process twice more.
- Pour the strained almond liquid into a pan, add the sugar and lemon rind and stir over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
- Bring it to just below boiling point then take it off the heat to cool.
- Strain in to a clean, sealable bottle and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
- Dilute to taste with water and serve with ice.
Target Consumer Trials
The gate slams, it’s 3.10 and 370 outside, this is going to go down a treat and no mistake, isn’t it? Dear Reader, there are no words necessary.
Oh, well. All the more for Mai (Tai). Classic recipe here at Post Prohibition
1. while this study has been well recieved and praised, it should be noted the researchers did accept $150,000 from the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation—which, according to the group’s website, is “a nonprofit org. But to turn down funding like that would be nuts, right? Sorry.)
2: Australian Dietary Guidelines, evidence statements in table 2.10, p 49, 2013.
3. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking, Hodder & Stoughton, 2004, p505.