SOURCE: Almond Board of California

April 26, 2012 09:22 ET

Almonds Naturally Make Gluten-Free Lifestyle More Delicious

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Apr 26, 2012) - (Family Features) For people who avoid gluten, it's a daunting task to find nutritious and delicious foods every day. Gluten can be found in nearly everything from baked goods to beer, and it's easy for the gluten-sensitive diner to feel deprived of flavor and fun in their foods. Fortunately, they can go "nuts," as naturally gluten-free almonds can be used in an extensive variety of ways, bringing a balance of taste and texture to a host of recipe favorites.

"Maintaining a gluten-free diet can be challenging for many people, especially when it comes to avoiding classic baked favorites, like breads, cookies and cakes," says John Csukor, chef and CEO of KOR Food Innovation, and an expert in creating gluten-free recipes. "Almonds provide those living with celiac disease or otherwise avoiding gluten with the flexibility to enjoy the foods they love in a way that is healthful without compromising taste."

Try these tips to turn a typical recipe into a gluten-free feast:

  • Almond flour is essential in gluten-free baking; replacing 20 to 25 percent of a gluten-free flour mix with almond flour can result in a more tender crumb in cookies or cakes.
  • Toasted, slivered almonds can be added to breakfast parfaits to provide a decadent flavor and satisfying crunch.
  • Chopped almonds can take the place of crunchy croutons in hearty dinner salads.
  • Ground almonds can be used instead of traditional breadcrumbs to coat chicken or fish.
  • Whole almonds are always a great go-to party snack when enjoyed plain or seasoned.

Visit www.AlmondBoard.com/glutenfree for nutrition information, helpful tips for living gluten-free, and delicious gluten-free recipes, such as Almond Alfajores (pictured), a delectable sandwich cookie filled with dulce de leche.

Gluten-Free Almond Alfajores
Makes: 12 sandwich cookies

1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
1 pinch ground anise
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cups confectioner's sugar, plus more for dusting
2 egg yolks
Juice of one 1/4 lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped natural almonds
1 cup (about) of dulce de leche (store bought, gluten-free)

Sift together almond flour, potato starch, baking powder and anise; set aside.

Cream butter and sugar in electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time; continue to beat. Add lemon juice and vanilla; beat again until light and fluffy. Fold in dry ingredients.

Turn out dough on work surface lined with potato starch; use your hands to gently pat dough together. Roll dough into a 2 1/2-inch-diameter log.

Roll log in chopped almonds; cover in plastic wrap and freeze for 30 to 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Using wire cheese cutter or sharp knife, cut dough into 1/4-inch slices. Place 1/2-inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheet, patting each cookie with your fingers as necessary to ensure it's circular.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until lightly golden. Let cool completely.

Spoon generous tablespoon of dulce de leche onto underside of half of cookies. Create sandwiches with the remaining cookies, gently pressing down. Dust with confectioner's sugar and serve, or keep tightly wrapped for up to 4 days.

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