When I lived in London, I lived in an area close to a mini-urban-village where many Greek and Turkish people live. I used to love going shopping there, to buy fresh fruit and vegetables from shops that were overflowing onto the street, and brought life and colour to the often dark and grey London streets. It was from one of these friendly shopkeepers that I learned the value of dried apricots combined with almonds. He recommended that everyone should eat a small handful of both every day, and I have followed his advice ever since.
I always keep dried apricots and almonds in stock. They come in so handy for a quick snack, and are wonderful ingredients to add to breakfast or for an after-dinner treat. I never travel without my little bag of apricots and almonds. You never know whether you are going to find suitable food when you are away from home, and these little gems will keep you satisfied and energised until you reach a healthy-eating safe harbour!
Since I became so involved with the detox maintenance lifestyle, and have investigated so many health issues connected with food, I decided it was time to check out whether the advice to eat apricots and almonds all those years ago is still worth following.
I am very gratified to find that it is still great advice. Apricots contain vitamins A, B, C, thiamine, calcium, carbohydrates, protein and phosphorus. They also contain high amounts of carotenoids and other antioxidant phytonutrients. Their beta-carotene content makes them especially rich in antioxidant vitamin A, which is essential for the immune system and eye health.
(Most dried apricots are treated with sulphur to preserve their colour and flavour, so if you find brown-looking dried apricots they are probably untreated, and would be the healthier choice. Unfortunately where I live in Mérida, Yucatán, I have not yet found untreated apricots, but I am ever hopeful.)
The almond is actually the seed of the fruit of the almond tree, which is by happy circumstance related to the apricot tree. Whole almonds with their skins provide optimal nutritive benefits. The flavonoids found in almond skins combined with the rich amounts of vitamin E contained in the almond seeds gives more than twice the antioxidant benefits than either the skins or the seeds when taken separately. Almonds are also an excellent source of manganese, and also have magnesium, copper and vitamin B2.
Make your own almond milk, and use the remaining almond meal instead of flour in many recipes. (you will find the recipe for almond milk if you click here)
Make your own almond butter, and use it in lots of different ways - add a tablespoonful to a smoothie; make a banana sandwich by spreading almond butter between two halves of a banana; add a little to hot vegetables instead of (heaven forbid!) cow's milk butter; stir into goat's yogurt; make a dip with almond butter, herbs and soft goat's cheese...... the list is endless - and of course you can use it in any recipe that calls for peanut butter (you will find the recipe for almond butter if you click here)
One word of caution. Be careful with portion sizes. One dried apricot is a fraction of the size of a fresh one, but they each have the same calorific value, so one or twp dried apricots is plenty - and keep the portion of nuts down to a small handful.