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Blue Diamond Growers put love into Almond Breeze

“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

Ingredients

  • 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)

Directions

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.

Nutrition Facts

Per 1/2 recipe: Calories 190, Fat 8g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 150mg, Carbohydrate 27g, Fibre 2g, Sugars 20g, Protein 2g

 

Recipe: mouth-watering eggplant and cheese pie

Eggplant and Cheese Pie

Sometime people crave something a bit lighter for a delicious summer dinner, or maybe you are interested in a vegetarian alternative to a delicious cheese bake. The eggplant and cheese pie is the perfect meal with just the right amount of ingredients that make this meal rich, yet simple to prepare and enjoy for you and your family.

Ingredients:

• 2 small eggplants, peeled and diced
• 1 cup of shredded cheese of your choice (a smoked cheese like gouda adds a burst of flavour)
• 3 eggs
• 3 tbsp milk
• 1 medium yellow onion
• 1 glove garlic, crushed
• 1 package phyllo pastry
• ½ tsp salt
• olive oil
• ½ tsp black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Celsius

1. Using a 25 cm quiche dish, gently layer sheets of phyllo pastry, ranging from 3-5 sheets, depending on the desired thickness of the crust. Brush each layered sheet with a small amount of olive oil

2. Wash the diced eggplant with salt and leave to soak for ten minutes, then rinse with cold water and dry thoroughly.

3. In a large skillet, heat up some olive oil, lightly brown the onion, garlic and add the eggplant, toss on medium heat for five minutes and sprinkle with black pepper.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs with milk and whisk lightly

5. Add your sautéed eggplant to the quiche dish and distribute evenly, pour the egg mixture and then generously add the shredded cheese

6. Place uncovered on the top rack of your oven for 20-25 minutes

Once completed, slightly leave to cool and serve your delicious and cheesy eggplant pie. Enjoy with a serving of fresh cherry tomatoes or even a lightly tossed garden salad. If you would like to make this meal even richer, feel free to add other vegetables or even plump tomatoes to add a colourful and delicious burst to your meal. Enjoy!

Recipe: Instagram-worthy grain bowl

It can be hard to muster the energy to prepare lunches everyday, especially when the summer heat hits. There is nothing less appealing than cooking on a hot day. But, if you want to continue to eat healthy and homemade lunches, then preparation is key.

That’s what’s so great about the grain bowl (sometimes called a Buddha Bowl). You can prepare them on the weekend and alternate flavours and ingredients throughout the week for unique meals each time.

The best part about these bowls is that it doesn’t require a recipe — just an understanding of the mechanics.

The base of the bowl is, obviously, usually a grain like rice or quinoa. Next, choose your protein source. One of my favourite gain bowls uses cooked chickpeas, but you can use grilled chicken,pork, tofu, or even something like goat cheese.

Then you add vegetables. The key is to pick ingredients that are colourful and compliment each other. Some suggestions include: beets, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, asparagus, peppers, or zucchini. Cook some of the harder vegetables to make them easier to chew in combination with the rest of the bowl ingredients. It’s okay to have some cooked and some raw.

Afterwards, add something like hummus or tabbouleh so that the grains aren’t so dry. If you want something a bit more saucey, try a greek salad dressing or an olive oil based mixture with dry herbs.

Top with sprouts, olives, or pickled vegetables to taste. Add a little fresh coriander, basil, or mint.

The best part about this meal is that you can cook the grains and cut all of the vegetables on the weekend. Each night, just cook the vegetables you want cooked and that’s it — you have a healthy meal fit for kings!

Variations include breakfast bowls with sweet potato, a poached egg, and sausage.

What is your favourite combination? Let us know in the comments below!

Recipe: overnight oats with banana

I’m a big fan of this easy and simply overnight breakfast recipe. Just dump all ingredients in a jar, shake, put it in the refrigerator overnight, and then grab-and-go. It’s perfect for those who are super busy or just don’t want to have to deal with complicated breakfasts in the early hours of the morn. It’s also quite a refreshing post-workout breakfast for those who like to get up before dawn for a run.

 Ingredients

¼ cup of oats

½ almond or coconut milk

1 tbsp chia seeds

½ tsp of cinnamon

½ tbls of honey or agave

Banana or other fruit cut up into bite-sized pieces

Put all ingredients in a regular sized jam jar. Add fruit or nuts to taste. And then shake, shake shake! Maybe even dance around the kitchen a bit.

Put the jar in refrigerator over night.

It’s that simple! This breakfast is nutritious, full of fibre, and really tasty! You can heat up the oats in a microwave or it cold. Personally, I don’t mind it cold, especially if I add in some fresh fruit as opposed to frozen.

My suggestion would be to include half a banana (cut into small pieces) to help bind and fill up the spaces between oats. Add blueberries for a particularly refreshing taste. Other options include walnuts, apples, and mango for a Caribbean flavour.

Note: if you don’t enjoy the texture of oatmeal, you may not like this overnight recipe. Instead, why not try mixing chia seeds with milk, cocoa powder, and honey overnight to make a pudding!

RECIPE: Garlic Scape & Cherry Tomato Pasta

Roasting garlic scapes with tomatoes and red onion sweetens them and enriches their flavor; toss them with pasta, lemon juice, and arugula for a simple summer meal.

SERVES 4

Ingredients

 Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 12 spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 10 garlic scapes
  • 1 pint multicolored cherry tomatoes
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 400°.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain pasta and keep warm.
  3. Toss olive oil, garlic scapes, tomatoes, red onion, salt, and pepper and spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 12–15 minutes, until tomatoes are just beginning to burst.
  4. Remove from oven and toss with spaghetti, arugula, and lemon zest and juice.
  5. Serve immediately.

Comment below and tell us how it was. Bon appetite!  

 

Repost from: http://www.saveur.com/article/recipes/garlic-scape-and-cherry-tomato-pasta