“The almond is a very versatile product.”
No one exudes passion for a nut quite like Mel Machado. Machado is the director of members relations at Blue Diamond Growers, and is as invested in the business as any almond grower.
A farmer himself, Machado says you either love it, or you don’t. “Farming is a system and by that, there are no independent actions that don’t have reactions somewhere else,” he said. “It’s definitely not the easiest thing in the world. It takes vision and strength to be a good farmer.”
But the one thing about almond growing in California is that Blue Diamond values the input of every single one of the people working the fields — something that can’t be said about most companies.
Blue Diamond Almond Growers are part of one of the oldest cooperatives in the United States. It was created in 1910 with the intention of giving growers more power in the marketplace and improving the quality of the product. Today, there are over 3,000 growers in the cooperative and every single one of the farmers who market through Blue Diamond is considered an owner.
The important thing to remember about Blue Diamond is that quality is their number one priority. It’s an incredibly family-centric industry, meaning the almonds are grown with love and respect. Some of the growers come from three to four generations of farmers, and each one is invested in the cooperative. In fact, Machado makes a point to introduce the corporate members of Blue Diamond to these farmers so they understand all that goes into making such a delicious product.
In 2013, the cooperative opened the Blue Diamond Almond Innovation Centre, which is the world’s first and only research center dedicated to almond product innovation. It’s through this centre the company comes up with its new ideas. In fact, Almond Breeze, the dairy-free beverage, is a product of the cooperative’s Innovation Centre. It’s there that different flavours and uses for the product are explored and tested. This includes beverages, snacks, crackers, and of course, traditionally flavoured nuts. Some of Machado’s favourite flavours (as well as his dog’s) are sweet thai chilli and wasabi soy.
The most popular products are, of course, the Almond Breeze beverages. Each one is smooth and creamy with a unique flavour that doesn’t overpower the delicious natural taste of almonds. It’s a great option for lactose-intolerant and vegan customers who still require a source of calcium and vitamins.
My personal favourite is the Unsweetened Almond Coconut drink! It has fewer calories than regular milk, contains the healthy fats and nutrients I need for my day, and tastes absolutely divine on my morning oatmeal!
You can find the Original and Vanilla Almond Breeze (sweetened and unsweetened) in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores, but make sure to check the self-stable products on the shelves to find the chocolate and coconut flavours.
Wondering how to use your dairy-free beverages? Try a Key Lime Pie Smoothie:
For more recipes, go here!
Key Lime Pie Smoothie
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 0 minutes
Yield: 2 servings
- 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) Almond Breeze® Unsweetened Vanilla
- 1/2 ripe avocado, diced
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh baby spinach
- 3 tbsp (45 mL) maple syrup
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) lime juice
- 1 tsp (5 mL) lime zest
- 5 ice cubes
- Lime wedges (optional)
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) toasted shredded coconut (optional)
In blender, combine Almond Breeze, avocado, spinach, maple syrup, lime juice, lime zest and ice; purée until smooth.
If desired, rim 2 glasses with fresh lime and dip into toasted coconut.
Per 1/2 recipe: Calories 190, Fat 8g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 150mg, Carbohydrate 27g, Fibre 2g, Sugars 20g, Protein 2g