Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Almond Chipotle Burgers

Almonds have an exalted place among the "superfoods," foods that go bey0nd basic nutrition to help fight disease or improve health. Almonds provide a nutrient-dense source of vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, fiber, riboflavin, monounsaturated fatty acids, and protein, and they have been shown to reduce low-density lipoproteins (the bad, naughty, evil cholesterol often portrayed with a pencil-thin mustache and a black cloak). Almonds have a low glycemic index and do not adversely impact insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, almonds can be an effective part of a weight loss strategy even though the nut is 50% fat by weight. According to a review in the Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture, "habitual almond consumption does not lead to weight gain, and their inclusion in low-calorie diets appears to promote more weight loss than a comparable carbohydrate-based low-calorie diet."

Furthermore, nutritionist Monica Reinagel (my latest hero/obsession) reported a study in a recent Ask Monica blog that found that those people who chewed almonds for a longer period of time (40 times) felt more full than those who chewed them for a shorter period of time (10-25 time). I don't know if the take home message of the study was that almonds are an effective appetite suppressant or that masticating is good for you, but I think it's worth mentioning nonetheless...particularly because I heard it from Monica. And she is my new obsession. Or did I mention that?

Anyway, here is a good summer recipe that came to me tonight in a flash of inspiration. If you can cook these over a charcoal grill, go for it. Otherwise, the broiler works just fine.

Almond Chipotle Burgers
2 cups almonds
1/2 small onion
1/2 green bell pepper
1 carrot, peeled
1 medium stick of celery
1/2 cup rolled oats
6 oz. tomato paste (1 small can)
1 egg
1-2 tsp. dried chipotle pepper, ground in a mortar and pestle
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven on the broiler setting. Grind the almonds, onion, bell pepper, carrot, and celery in a food processor. Mix in by hand the rolled oats, tomato paste, egg, and dried chipotle pepper. Add salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 10 burger-sized patties and cook under a broiler for 2-4 minutes per side.

This burger is best served on a bun with a slice of tomato. The cool of the tomato perfectly balances the spicy burger.

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