Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
22 Dec

The Many Uses of Almond Meal

Almond MealAs you might recall from our pie and cracker recipes, and Son of Grok’s pizza recipe we like to use almond flour or almond meal as a foundation for Primal baking. It has a similar consistency to traditional flours (albeit denser and heavier), forms good batter with eggs and other fats, and it gives whatever you’re making a nice nutty quality. Almond meal is also fairly taste-neutral; it has a distinct nutty taste that coincidentally works well with many food combinations. So just what is almond meal (or almond flour, for that matter)?

Almond meal is just ground up almonds, usually with the skin still on. Almond flour is ground up blanched (skin off) almonds. The two can basically be used interchangeably. I can’t really notice a difference, but try both to see which works best for you. Personally, I like to use the meal, but not because of any qualitative deductions on my part: my local Trader Joe’s sells almond meal at a great price.

Because it’s just almonds, almond meal has the same nutritional profile as its nutty forebear: high in protein, manganese, potassium, copper, and vitamin E, as well as healthy monounsaturated fats. Going by volume, though, a quarter cup of almond meal contains 15g fat (1g saturated), 5g carbs (3g fiber, 1g sugar), and 7g protein. Hearty stuff indeed.

Most high end or specialty grocery stores (like the aforementioned Trader Joe’s, or Whole Foods, or any similar establishment) should carry almond meal. Trader Joe’s should sell it for $3.29 a pound, or something close to that. You can expect to pay way more at Whole Foods, of course.

If you can’t find the stuff prepared, you can always make your own. Just toss a bunch of almonds in your food processor and use the pulse function to turn them into meal. Be careful you don’t process them too much (unless you want fresh almond butter). Store your homemade almond meal (and really, even store bought meal) in an airtight container in the fridge, for the short term; if you’re going to keep it longer than a few weeks, move it into the freezer. Otherwise, it may turn rancid.

Okay – now what?

Well, with the holiday season in full tilt and baked goods changing hands like herpes, I thought it might help to provide some alternative holiday recipes prominently featuring almond meal. You know, so when your office mates are gorging themselves on brownies and sugar cookies at the Christmas party, you can join in too (or even surreptitiously sneak in some Primal treats to see if they notice, or care about, any difference – report back to us if you do!).

Primal Pancakes

Pancakes

If there’s one thing almost every neo-Primalist misses, it’s a heaping stack of pancakes on a cold winter weekend morning. This recipe will sate those deep-seated cravings and make you forget about your extended tryst with Mrs. Buttersworth (as sweet and sinful as it may have been).

Ingredients:
1 cup almond meal
3 large eggs
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix it all together until a batter forms. Pour the batter onto a buttered or greased skillet. Cook over medium heat until both sides are golden brown. Drizzle raw honey or just eat it plain. For kicks, add some blueberries or bananas to the batter.

One word of caution on this recipe: I would suggest keeping the size of these almond pancakes on the small side. Larger pancakes have a tough time sticking together.

FitDay breaks the whole batch down thusly (without any honey or added berries);
Calories:   798
Fat:   65.4 g
Carbs:   20.1 g (11.2 g fiber)
Protein:   42.1 g

Not bad!

Almond Cookies

Almond Cookies

Dense, delicate, and delicious, these almond cookies come highly recommended.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup almond meal
1 cup maple flakes
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking soda

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir together almond meal, baking soda and maple flakes, then blend in the butter, egg, and vanilla. Refrigerate dough for half an hour. Spoon out one-inch balls onto a greased or non-stick cookie sheet and flatten with a fork. Bake for eight minutes or until set. Be careful not to let your cookies brown, because that means they’re too well done. Allow them to cool for 2 minutes on the sheet before moving them.

FitDay says:
Calories:   1,563
Fat:   112.6 g
Carbs:   123.9 g (14 g fiber)
Protein:   33 g

Depending on how many cookies you get out of this batch, some simple division will net you the per-cookie facts.

Almond meal can also be used in pretty much any recipe as a substitute for traditional grain flours. You can thicken sauces or make tempura batter with it. The possibilities are myriad. Of course, you’ll have to experiment, as pound-for-pound almond meal is a lot denser than traditional flours, and it has different textural properties and flavors. Just as we’ve all grown to love the Primal way, not just for the health benefits, but also for the delicious and satisfying food on the menu, almond flour shouldn’t be seen as a replacement or a stopgap or a cheap imitation; we should regard almond flour as a unique and useful ally in the kitchen.

Let us know if you come up with any great recipes – holiday or otherwise – using almond meal!

mrs.McD, dr. frenchie, sweetbeetandgreenbean Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

10 Steps to “Primalize” Your Pantry

Dear Mark: Whole, Roasted, Raw or as Butter?

Smart Fuel: Walnut Oil

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Anyone know where you can get almond meal in the UK? Seems to be a lot trickier than in the US – the obvious places such as ‘Health’ stores don’t appear to stock it…

    Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later wrote on December 22nd, 2008
    • Julian Graves – chain of stores in the UK. i think its described as ‘ground almonds’ but its the same thing.

      alex wrote on June 5th, 2009
    • Can I Make My Own Almond Flour?:
      Yes, you can make it in a blender or food processor, though care must be taken not to go too far, or you will have almond butter! Use fairly small amounts, and pulse until it’s meal.
      Where Can I Get Almond Flour/Meal?:
      Most health food stores sell it.

      Answer from http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/products/p/almondmeal.htm

      Gretsky wrote on November 7th, 2009
    • Tescos or Asda (bigger branches) should stock it. check the baking sections. Asda has the cheapest if i recall right. I’ve also bought largeish packs from my local asian food store – Natco is the company brand.

      kethry wrote on July 9th, 2010
    • found a better place – if you have acces to central Lndon!

      Indian spice shop at the end of drummond street near Euston station. about £7 for 1kg

      alex wrote on July 9th, 2010
    • You can make it yourself. Just add 1 cup of almonds and 1 tablespoon of sugar to a blender(mine is a vita-mix) and blend till it is a powder/dough mixture.

      Carrie wrote on November 8th, 2010
      • No need for sugar :)

        Charlotte wrote on August 2nd, 2011
      • better yet, make almond milk and then keep the meal for later use.

        and correct: no sugar needed

        keri wrote on August 31st, 2012
    • Almond meal is simply called ground almonds in UK and Canada

      joan murray wrote on December 3rd, 2010
    • You can make your own with raw almonds and a coffee grinder

      Sandy wrote on January 18th, 2011
    • Trader Joe’s

      Rebecca wrote on April 10th, 2011
    • Almond meal is a byproduct of the almond milk industry. You can easily make your own.
      Soak 1 cup RAW almonds in water overnight,
      Drain. Blend in blender with 4 cups water on highest setting about 3 or 4 minutes.
      Strain through fine mesh sieve. The liquid is almond milk, flavor w/ honey and vanilla. the solids need to be dried in oven on lowest heat (175 – 200 f)for a few hours. Viola, almond meal.

      Peter wrote on October 28th, 2012
  2. I love almond meal. I use it in so many things (see SoG Primal Pizza). It can be pretty expensive in the store so I order it by the 5 pound bag off the internet (from a company called honeyville grains ironically) and it is pretty reasonable.

    The SoG

    Son of Grok wrote on December 22nd, 2008
  3. What a nifty and nutritious alternative to your standard pancakes. The great thing about these is that they don’t require soaking the whole wheat flour in buttermilk overnight in order to help your body digest the grain. That’s really convenient.

    FoodRenegade wrote on December 22nd, 2008
  4. I have a slight variation to the pancakes. I typically throw in about 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce and about 1/4 cup of sparkling water. It makes the batter a little thinner and the pancakes a little more moist and fluffier.

    primalman wrote on December 22nd, 2008
    • I tried it with the variations – thank you – I was worried about passing these off on my kids. They liked them! I added a small amount of dark chocolate chips, too! Thanks!

      Nancy wrote on December 4th, 2011
  5. Almond is my very favorite nut. This is a fantastic post, i love it! I could just take a bite of that almond pancake, Yum!

    Donna wrote on December 22nd, 2008
  6. Oh my gosh. Those pancakes would be heavenly with a drizzle of almond butter, no? I definitely need to make those. Thanks for the recipe Mark!

    PS – Love love love Trader Joe’s!

    Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) wrote on December 22nd, 2008
    • These pancakes were so YUMMY you have got to try them!!!

      Vanessa Rodriguez wrote on December 19th, 2010
  7. “useful ally in the kitchen” – love it!

    Ryan Denner wrote on December 22nd, 2008
  8. yum yum yum. gosh do i love your recipes, and so does my family since i’m constantly changing up the menu! thank you!!!

    Holly wrote on December 22nd, 2008
  9. Hi Heather,
    Almond butter and cashew butter is great on fried eggs for breakfast, i have that often, it’s very good, give it a try, you’ll love it!
    I agree, almond butter would be great on those pancakes, i’ve got to try it.

    Donna wrote on December 22nd, 2008
  10. I really like cooking with Almond meal, but a word of caution about how caloric it is is in order.

    I was following a pancake recipe with coconut milk, olive oil, almond flour and eggs. They taste great, and I would typically eat two or three of them.

    Then I did the math and realized each pancake was 4-500cKal.

    I run into the same thing with breads. There’s a great recipe for banana bread floating around out there. But at 200cKal for a 2″x4″ slice, it’s really easy to eat WAY too much of it.

    chris wrote on December 22nd, 2008
  11. I must be in the minority here. I tried the SOG primal pizza and it was just terrible. Tasted like an unsweetened heavy eggy almond cookie with cheese on it. Just give me a steak instead.

    I’m not a big fan of substitutions to make “bad” foods more healthful. Just make the “bad” foods a very occasional indulgence, and eat well 95% of the time.

    I don’t beat myself up about wanting to eat junk foods, but I do have a principle I follow: whatever junk food I want to eat, I make it myself from absolute scratch. That way, it is inconvenient and takes effort. Additionally, I know exactly what goes into it, so it will be free of unnecessary additives, preservatives, and pseudo-foods.

    Keath wrote on December 22nd, 2008
  12. I tend to think that making a typically carb-like meal (ie pizza, pancakes) out of substituted paleo/primal foods is cheating – at least to me. I mean if per almond cookie you are getting over 1000 calories and over 100g of carbs then whats the difference between that and a normal home baked cookie with plain flour or whole wheat flour? I just feel that this is trying to process food and is what got us in trouble in the first place.

    Dr Dan wrote on December 22nd, 2008
    • The whole batch was 1000 calories, not each cookie

      Cara wrote on July 8th, 2011
  13. Keath and Dan, you have good points. I personally don’t try to find ways to primalize foods I might not otherwise eat. But a significant portion of MDA readers are trying to make the transition “kicking and screaming”. You’d be surprised (or not) at the emails I get saying they can’t possibly give up their dessert or their pizza. If we can find ways to make the transition palatable, we might win over a few more converts. And I have found in general that once people get rolling on low carb, it’s easier to eliminate some of those old food attachments.

    I learned from some readers who tried the 30-day experiment this summer not to be quite so rigid off the bat.

    Mark wrote on December 22nd, 2008
    • You are so right – I am trying to win over kids ages 5, 10, and 12. I was stunned this morning when my 12 year old daughter yelled at me, “Wheat is my life!!” when I told her I wanted her to try to eliminate it from her diet. But then she happily ate three almond pancakes…

      I have been sneakily cutting back on wheat and other grains and refined and natural sugar. And she is wearing a dress today that she was too chubby for two years ago. That may be all the proof I need.

      Thanks so much for this recipe!

      Nancy wrote on December 4th, 2011
  14. Dr. Dan,

    The stats on those cookies are for the whole batch – not a single cookie.

    “Depending on how many cookies you get out of this batch, some simple division will net you the per-cookie facts.”

    Mark Sisson wrote on December 22nd, 2008
  15. Dr. Dan I do think that you make a good point. Eating primal/paleo is as much a mind-set as anything else and the pancakes and muffins break that mind-set. But as an occasional indulgence I think that it is a fine way to go.

    My wife and I usually split the above recipe and I have actually asked myself “what is the difference between these pancakes and a breakfast of 2 scrambled eggs, an apple and 1/2 cup of almonds (which I have on occasion)?”

    On a side-note, if it is true that we are what we eat and “King Corn” is correct that most Americans are made out of corn, then I am pretty sure that I am based out of almonds at this point.

    primalman wrote on December 22nd, 2008
  16. primalmondman?

    Mark wrote on December 22nd, 2008
  17. While I agree with Dr Dan, this kind of thing is great for those of us with kids who only will eat “kid food” (like pancakes) for breakfast. I’ll try to sneak these in and see if they notice…

    Mark wrote on December 22nd, 2008
  18. im one of those people that love my sweets and pizza, ive been doing really well not reaching for these comfort foods but sometimes its a treat that i let myself have. so these recipes are really great to me because it just gets me through those rough patches where my body just craves. and being a woman, thats atleast once a month. LOL. thanks for the post! ill definitely give these a try… esp the pizza! and btw, my christmas present to myself this year is the 50lbs i shed being primal!!

    merry xmas everyone!

    anna wrote on December 22nd, 2008
  19. I make a banana bread pancake with almond meal, always a hit.

    Zen Frittata wrote on December 22nd, 2008
  20. Yeah almond meal pancakes!!! Hahahaha!

    Thanks for the post

    All the Best,

    Andrew R

    Andrew R - Go Healthy Go Fit wrote on December 22nd, 2008
  21. Here’s an idea with those pancakes: coconut cream and oil with dark cacao sprinkled on top.( drools like Homer Simpson)

    JE Gonzalez wrote on December 22nd, 2008
  22. For people who have issues with finding almond meal. I use a coffee grinder to make a flour and it works really well. My kids didnt know the difference other than the color and nuttier taste. it also allows for a fresher taste than almond meal. Dont recommend walnut or cashews though they become more like peanut butter.

    Phil wrote on December 22nd, 2008
  23. Hey thanks for explaining. I’ve heard you mention almond meal multiple times but I’ve always wondered what it was. Sounds like it will be pretty tastier than normal flour too. Almonds have a noticeable flavour whereas flour is quite bland.

    Tom Parker - Free Fitness Tips wrote on December 22nd, 2008
  24. I used almond meal to “bread” some turkey tenderloin strips, and they were a big hit.

    It did make a huge mess; be sure to clean up without delay, because almond meal/egg mixture turns into cement after drying!

    dragonmamma wrote on December 23rd, 2008
  25. Keath,
    I am sorry that you did not likte the pizza! I guess its one of those differen people different tastes bits. We actually prefer the pizza to regular pizza.

    The SoG

    Son of Grok wrote on December 23rd, 2008
  26. Hi –

    For the cookies, what are maple flakes? Sorry if I missed the explanation.

    Thanks!

    Jill Davidson wrote on December 28th, 2008
  27. I made this clementine-almond cake for Christmas (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/nigella-lawson/clementine-cake-recipe/index.html) and it was a big hit. The cake was deliciously moist and it was fun to use the whole orange! I did cut the sugar back a bit and it was still plenty sweet. This is an especially good recipe for right now as most stores are selling boxes of mandarins/clementines.

    Sally wrote on December 29th, 2008
    • I made this one too a few years ago! Fab recipe! :)

      Sassie wrote on July 13th, 2011
  28. My 14-yr-old nephew felt just as you do about the pizza, Keath, and then he suggested I get cooking lessons. Me, I loved it. Of couse, nephew has never been seen without a french fry in hand, and he’s never been known to eat a vegetable. Lives on round table pizza and sugar pops. I don’t know how he lives.
    I made the meal out of almonds in the food processor.
    Where is that recipe for Chicken a la King hiding?

    heykapo wrote on December 31st, 2008
  29. I tried the pancakes this morning. They were pretty good, but I don’t think I got the almonds grinded fine enough. Whole Foods wants $14 for a pound of almond meal. Outrageous! I bought blanched almond slivers at $7.00 per pound (slightly outrageous) and used my cheapo food processor.

    They were pretty filling. I threw in some blueberries and did pour some Agave Nectar over them (along with butter). Probably a higher calorie breakfast than I’m used to having but I think they will keep me feeling full for quite a while.

    I’m going to try the Son of Grok pizza recipe this weekend.

    Dave wrote on January 2nd, 2009
    • the best prices on almond meal is gold almonds.com $1.99 per pound

      gary alldrin wrote on December 31st, 2011
  30. Almonds can be had for under $4 a pound, shop around! Get ‘em raw, soak them overnight in water, rinse and drain, then pop in a dehydrator (or an oven on warm/150) until fully dried out. May take experimentation. Then you can grab a handful and grind ‘em to make meal/flour (no need to blanch them, remove the skins), and run that through a sifter to get the finest fluffiest meal/flour. Re-grind the bigger chunks you sift out.

    Almond meal/flour is good stuff, and exceedingly useful.

    Tim wrote on January 5th, 2009
  31. Mark,

    I was wondering if you know about soaking the almond meal before cooking. I see one entry that mentions not soaking, like they would a grain flour, but I thought it was best to soak nuts before eating, as well. This frees up the enzymes for digestibility.

    Any info would be appreciated

    Deb wrote on January 12th, 2009
    • Hi Deb,

      I was wondering if you found anything out about soaking almond flour before baking with it to aid in digestion? Do you know if this is even necessary once you have almond flour? Thanks very much for any information you may know!

      Cat wrote on August 6th, 2009
    • I know that soaking WHOLE almonds in a pinch of salt overnight neutralizes those enzymes. Make almond milk out of it, strain & put pulp on jelly roll pan in the oven on low(150-170) to dry. Then run through the food processor or grinder to make it powdery instead of clumpy little rocks! Use as directed! Making some pancakes with it today actually! I use it as is in all of my almond recipes without fail!

      Melissa Carr wrote on November 23rd, 2014
  32. When making my own almond meal/flour (only difference is the flour uses almonds that are blanched, skins removed) from raw almonds, I found the flour is lighter, fluffier and more like grain flour if the raw almonds are soaked, then dried first. Don’t know the change in digestibility.

    Tim wrote on January 12th, 2009
  33. Absolutely delicious! I tweeked the vanilla and cinnamon a bit to my own personal taste, but I couldn’t have asked for a more satisfying breakfast treat. Thanks!

    Kristen wrote on January 13th, 2009
  34. OK. So I tried the pancakes…terrible. Dense, grainy and not very flavorful. I even tried to improve the recipe by adding extra egg, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and some coconut flour. Still blah. :( My husband took one bite, and was done. I might try again, but I’m not too hopeful.
    To end on a positive note, I made a quiche with the pie crust recipe…the texture was super crumbly, but the flavor was really good, and the crackers are fantastic!

    Inti wrote on January 19th, 2009
  35. I made two different recipes of almond meal based pancakes this morning. We had this one second, and it was much worse than the other. These ended up much too dense, and without much flavor.

    The other recipe that worked can be found by a google search for “almond meal” pancakes, only used 2 eggs, and had a tablespoon of sugar and a touch of salt. It tasted pretty much like normal pancakes, but with a cornmealish texture.

    Aaron wrote on February 23rd, 2009
  36. Hi Mark,

    I love your recipe for almond cookies. I add a few raisins, chopped pecans and Cinnamon to the basic recipe. I also add an extra egg which flattens the cookie out a bit as it bakes.

    For an ultimate (occasional) dessert treat check this out. A friend introduced me to an ice cream made from coconut milk called Coconut Bliss. It comes in many flavors, see http://www.coconutbliss.com/index.html.
    Here are the ingredients used in the flavor, Cherry Amaretto:
    Organic Coconut Milk (Organic Coconut, Water, Guar Gum), Organic Agave Syrup, Organic Cherries, Organic Fair Trade Vanilla Extract, Organic Almond Extract

    I take two Almond Cookies and use this ice cream to make an ice cream sandwich that is better than any ice cream sandwich I have ever had pre-primal! This ice cream comes in a Dark Chocolate flavor too!

    Paul Clark wrote on March 8th, 2009
  37. For the UK heads you can get Almond meal in Sainsburys or Julian graves but its called “Ground Almonds” – http://www.juliangraves.com/ground-almonds-400g.html

    Short-e wrote on March 22nd, 2009
  38. from the good folks at We Like It Raw- a great source for unexpected Primal treats!

    http://www.welikeitraw.com/rawfood/2008/01/raw-girl-scout.html

    marci wrote on March 27th, 2009
  39. oh, and a great syrup topping for both coconut & almond meal pancakes comes from Heidi@101cookbooks: chop up an orange (peeled) and 1/2 a lemon, add to 1/2 c agave nectar & simmer. Amazing!

    marci wrote on March 27th, 2009
  40. the recipes look great! i wondering … approximately how many pancakes the pancake recipe yields (because i don’t want to make too much for myself)

    kita wrote on April 23rd, 2009

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