February is a pretty special month – everything about it rings of hearts and health – February is American Heart Month, and we’re celebrating Valentines Day on February 14th, and National Almond Day on February 16th. Starting tomorrow through next Saturday, a group of healthy food bloggers and I will be kicking off a week long event packed with Gluten Free Heart Healthy Recipes. In the meanwhile, I want to share another recipe using heart-healthy almonds. A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for Cocoa Dusted Dark Chocolate Coated Almonds that has become hugely popular. Today, I present another treat made with a combination of almonds and dark chocolate.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and hearts are all around, so why not treat your sweetheart to a heart healthy snack. This Dark Chocolate Almond Cranberry Trail Mix is deceptively decadent with melted dark chocolate drizzled all over. Keep a stash of this trail mix in the car or in your office drawer to stave off afternoon hunger pangs, and be sure to pack a few extra in your sweetheart’s bag too.
Not only is this healthy snack packed with protein and fiber, but it’s also cholesterol free. Protein and fiber packed almonds, fiber rich dried cranberries, popcorn, and whole grain cereal, as well as antioxidant rich dark chocolate make this snack mix the ultimate trail mix. Since nuts and chocolate are relatively high in fat, I added popcorn and cereal to bulk up this trail mix to satisfy your craving for something to munch on mid-afternoon, while keeping calories and fat in check.
Now for some fun facts about almonds:
- When compared ounce for ounce, almonds are the tree nut highest in protein, fiber, calcium (75mg in one serving), vitamin E (35% DV), riboflavin and niacin.
- Almonds are naturally gluten-free, cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat.
- The ideal daily portion of almonds recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans ~ 23 almonds, the size of a 3″x3″ sticky note.
- The United States is the leading producer of almonds, with California producing 80% of the world’s almonds.
- In India, almonds are considered a prized “brain food” for children.
The American Heart Association (AHA) has certified almonds to display the Heart-Check mark for heart-healthy foods to help consumers easily identify heart-healthy foods like almonds and help take the guess work out of shopping.
And now for the fun – the GIVEAWAY! The Almond Board of California is providing a fantastic selection of almonds and this cute tote bag for me to giveaway to one of my readers. There are multiple ways to enter.
- Spread almonds on an ungreased baking pan. Place in 350ºF oven and bake 7-9 or until golden brown and fragrant, stirring once or twice during baking time to ensure even browning. Almonds will continue to roast slightly after removing from oven.
- Break chocolate into pieces and place in a small microwavable bowl. Heat for one minute. Stir and heat another minute. If chocolate is still not melted, heat another minute.
- In a large bowl, toss together roasted almonds, popped corn, cranberries and cereal. Drizzle melted chocolate on top. Let cool until chocolate hardens.
Disclosure: The Almond Board of California sent me a nice assortment of almond products to play around with and one winner will receive the same.