Whether you’re hosting or just volunteering to bring the appetizer, get creative at your next summer shindig: Ditch the typical chip-n-dip in favor of crudité + almond-based spread. A spread made with almonds is a great alternative for your lactose-intolerant friends and is higher in calcium than cream cheese dip.
Almonds are made up of more than 65% of monounsaturated fat–the same fats that are found in olive oil that have been found to help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. In addition, almonds contain 40% of the Recommended Daily Value (RDA) of vitamin E. They’re also high in protein and have the highest dietary fiber of any nut or seed (more than 3 grams per ounce).
Nut spreads like this one are common as vegan cheese substitutes, but if you’re not familiar with their textural differences, you may be surprised. Here’s what to expect: When you add almonds and other nuts like cashews and macadamias (which are interchangeable in the below recipe) to a food processor with herbs, spices, and water you will get a creamy spreadable dip, but the texture will be a bit chucky and have a much firmer body than soft dairy cheese. The longer you run your food processor the creamier the spread will get. Nut ‘cheeses’ also do not melt like dairy cheeses.
All you need are a few fresh ingredients and a food processor to make this yummy almond spread:
Mediterranean Almond Spread
Step one: Prep the Almonds
Start with 2/3 cups of dry almonds. Place dry almonds into a container, cover them with water (with room to expand twice their size) and place them in the refrigerator. The next day, rinse away the brown water and sediment and use the soaked (plumped-up) almonds for this recipe.
Step Two: Blend, Blend, Blend
Place all of your ingredients into a food processor and process for 3 to 5 minutes. Stop your food processor to scrape down the sides as often as needed to make sure everything gets well incorporated.
- 1 cup of soaked raw almonds (you can also use cashews or macadamia nuts)
- 2 tablespoon raw pine nuts
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup sun-dried tomato (soaked in water long enough to soften)
- ¼ cup basil
- 2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
This recipe makes 1.75 cups of spread (the equivalent of five 1/3 cup servings)
Compare this almond spread to the same recipe using 1 1/2 cups of cream cheese in place of the almonds and pine nuts.
Serving size: 1/3 cup
Total Fat: 16.72g
Total Carbs: 9.40g
Dietary Fiber: 4.50g
Cream Cheese Spread
Serving size: 1/3 cup
Total Fat: 20.50g
Total Carbs: 4.94g
Dietary Fiber: 0.40g
Brigitte Center of Brigitte’s Naturally Alive is certified in plant-based nutrition from Cornell University. She teaches ‘Raw Food for Real Life’ un-cooking classes, helps people jump-start healthy eating habits with a green smoothie delivery service, and writes the blog Raw Food Living Diet.