Let's get shaking! Almonds - deserving of adulation
We already know that nuts are incredibly virtuous and tasty, says Susan Jane White, but the calcium-absorbing sweet almond is the angel of the firmament
Almonds deserve wings of their own. When soaked, these perfumed nuts are considered to be alkaline, as opposed to acidic. Why is this important? Acidic foods are thought to make calcium absorption more difficult in the body - a yogi's worst nightmare.
Actually, scrap that. An accidental bottom burp during downward-facing dog on a yoga mat beside Colin Farrell is immeasurably worse.
Alkaline foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, help our bones access the calcium from our diet more efficiently. This does not mean that acidic foods are unhealthy, but it suggests that balancing acid with alkaline is important for strong bones. And supple cartwheels.
The alkaline-acid theory always sounded a little hocus-pocus - until I researched calcium retention after popping my two brutes.
Luckily, alkaline foods, like this milkshake, are fabulously tasty, so it's not a big ask to bulk up on them. (Alright, alright, coffee is acidic. You caught me. So we've teamed it up with inordinate amounts of alkalising almonds in this recipe).
Brendan Brazier, an ex-professional Ironman athlete, relies solely on a plant-based diet to fuel his training sessions (and his egg-box abs). I notice that almonds get some serious adulation in his cookbook, The Thrive Diet: The Whole Foods Way to Losing Weight, Reducing Stress, and Staying Healthy for Life, published by Penguin.
Loaded with waist-friendly fats, body-building protein and age-defying minerals, these everyday nuts have been neglected in my life for far too long. And perhaps my body shows as much. I resolve to eat more of them, if it brings me closer to badass Brendan.
And given my postnatal stats, plant-based calcium is something I'm on high alert for these days. All the better if I'm inspired by hot Canadian athletes.
Release your inner Gwynnie by making your own almond milk from raw nuts. Soak 125g (4½oz) of raw almonds in scorching hot water for 25 minutes. When the water is cool enough for your fingers, take each almond out and pinch the skin off it using your middle finger and thumb. Repeat until all the almonds are naked, and discard the skins.
Now soak the skinless almonds overnight in cool filtered water. In the morning, blitz them with 500ml (17½fl oz) fresh water in a high-speed blender and then strain the resulting liquid into a jug. Almond milk!
For everyone else, look out for the award-winning range of Rude Health almond milks.
Coffee and Almond Milkshake
This chilled bevy owns the summer of 2014, just as Miley Cyrus owns twerking. But it's more tasteful, I promise.
If you want to seriously charge your afternoon, add a teaspoon of bee pollen. Exceptionally rich in B vitamins, bee pollen will refill your stress tank and charge dead batteries.
You'll find this super-weird superfood in most health-food stores and in select pharmacies. Caution: it tastes like sipping a field of flowers.
You will need:
½ a large banana
200ml (7fl oz) unsweetened almond milk
1 shot of espresso (optional)
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 medjool date
Slice the banana into discs and freeze them on baking parchment or non-stick baking paper. I tend to have a cargo of frozen banana discs at the ready, to service tired friends and limbs. When the bananas discs are frozen solid, pitch them into a high-speed food processor alongside the unsweetened almond milk, the espresso, if you're using it, and the almond butter.
Remove the stone from the medjool date and drop it into the milkshake mixture. If you can't find medjool dates, then use pre-soaked regular dates. Blend on high. Pour the milkshake into chilled jam-jars, and sip away the boredom at your bus stop.