Almond Orchard Experience Part 1

Disclosure:  My trip to California was paid for by the Almond Board of California.  I was not compensated for writing this post and as always, all opinions are my own. 



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It’s been about a week since I’ve gotten home from California where I spent a few days on a sponsored trip with the Almond Board of California and I still sort of feel like it was a dream!   As a self-proclaimed nut butter addict, I couldn’t have been more excited when I got the invite from the Almond Board of California.  A chance to learn about almond nutrition, visit almond orchards and meet incredibly talented dietitians and bloggers?  Sign me up!

I’ve decided to document my experience in two separate posts—one all about the almond adventures/education and a second on the rest of my experience…the amazing food, delicious wine and fantastic company.

Here is the list of all the RDs/bloggers who attended this year:

Abbey Sharp—Abbeys Kitchen

Abby Langer—Abby Langer Nutrition

Alex Caspero—Delish Knowledge

Amanda Finks—The Wholesome Dish

Christy Wilson—Christy Wilson Nutrition

Deanna Segrave-Daly—Teaspoon of Spice

Emily Hein— Zen and Spice

Genevieve Nadeau—Nadeau Nutrition

Gina Sunderland 

Heather Caplan—Spright

Jane Dummer

Joan Salge-Blake

Kylie Mitchell—ImmaEatThat

Lisa Lin—Healthy Nibbles and Bits

Lisa Young—The Portion Teller

McKenzie Hall— Nourish RDs

Megan Roosevelt—Healthy Grocery Girl

Meme Inge—Living Well Kitchen

Mitzi Dulan—Nutrition Expert

Patty Mastracco—I Do Food

Rachael Hartley—Avocado A Day

Robin Plotkin—Robin’s Bite

Needless to say I consider myself really lucky to have had the opportunity to meet and learn from these women.  They are all doing some incredible things in the food/nutrition/wellness industry, so if you don’t already follow them on social media, get on it!

Now without further ado, let’s talk almonds. 



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We stayed at the Wine & Roses Hotel and Spa in Lodi, California.  I’ll share more on the hotel in my next Almond Orchard Experience post, but it was a perfect retreat for our group.  Due to some travel hiccups, I missed the Culinary Demo that kicked off the trip, but made it in time for a beautiful outdoor dinner where I was able to meet and start getting to know the other attendees. 

The following day was truly all about the almonds.  We spent the morning listening to presentations from members of the Almond Board, as well as the ABC Dietitian, Jenny Heap.  I already knew how great almonds are from a nutrition and health standpoint, so I was most interested in hearing about the environmental initiatives (hello, California drought!) as well as marketing strategies and emerging consumer research.



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Here’s a quick recap of some of the things we learned…

  • California grows 83% of the world’s almond supply!
  • 43% of almonds are consumed as snacks 
  • Ounce for ounce, almonds are the tree nut highest in protein, fiber, calcium, Vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin.
  • Almond orchards take up about 13% of California’s farmland, but only use about 9% of its agricultural water supply.
  • The Almond Board of California has been funding research to minimize water usage for over 30 years, not just in response to the recent droughts. About 83% of the almond growers use demand-based irrigation and 70% of almond orchards use micro-irrigation, which decreases water runoff and avoids waste.  In fact, over the past 2 decades, advances in farming techniques have allowed almond growers to reduce the amount of water they use per pound of almonds grown by 33%! 
  • The lifespan of an almond tree is about 25 years but it takes about 3-5 years before the tree produces edible nuts
  • No part of an almond goes unused! We eat the “meat”, the hull is used for dairy cattle feed and the shell is composted for cattle beds and more.
  • Almonds and honeybees are BFFs. Every spring, almonds provide bees with their first source of food and the bees are essential for almond tree pollination.  Read more on the mutually beneficial relationship here.

After a break for lunch, we were divided into groups for a Snack Challenge.  Heather, Lisa, Emily, Patty and I came up with a sweet and spicy snack bar that had almonds, oats, brown rice syrup, cayenne, pumpkin seeds, sea salt and of course…chocolate!  We didn’t win, but these bars were really good and I may have to recreate them soon!



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Wednesday morning, the group boarded a bus to the Travaille and Phippen almond orchard.  Here we got to see first-hand how the almonds are grown, harvested and processed.



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One of the coolest parts of the trip was seeing exactly how the machines shake the almonds from the trees when they’re ready for harvesting.  Check it out here on Heather’s Insta–she got a good video!  Years ago, the orchard workers had to bang on the trees with rubber mallets to shake the nuts free, so this is a huge improvement in efficiency. 



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Next, we slapped on our hairnets and toured the processing facility.



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I shared a cool video on Vine of all the ways the almonds are shelled and sorted.  Plus there are workers who eyeball the nuts as they go by on conveyor belts to ensure quality.  There’s no way I could handle that job! I’d be dizzy in no time and/or have a mouth full of almonds all day! 



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Finally, we ended the trip with a beautiful picnic lunch right at the Travaille and Phippen orchard, and I had the pleasure of sitting with Mr. Phippen himself!  It was so refreshing to chat with a farmer who is so open and transparent about his agricultural practices and also so passionate about his work.  The Pinterest-worthy lunch didn’t hurt either! 😉



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That’s a wrap on the official Almond Orchard Experience Part 1 post, but I’ll be back next week to recap more of the food, wine and fitness fun I had while visiting Lodi.  BIG BIG thanks to the team at the Almond Board of California for sponsoring my trip and creating such an incredible learning experience for us all.

Have you ever been to an almond orchard?  What’s your favorite way to eat almonds?  Mine is definitely almond butter by the spoonful! 😉



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Chocolate Banana Chia Pudding with #SilkSoy

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Fitfluential on behalf of Silk. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

We’re talking all things soy today! As a Registered Dietitian, soy is definitely up there on the list of things I get asked about most, due to the many myths out there about soy and soymilk. Check out this great Fact or Fiction page at Silk.com for more detailed info on the soy misconceptions, but rest assured that many of these rumors are just that…rumors. Silk Soymilk is actually a great option for both veg-heads and meat lovers alike to incorporate more plant-based protein into their day.

Silk Original Soymilk provides 8 grams of protein per 8 ounces (equivalent to cow’s milk!) and is an excellent source of calcium and Vitamin D. In fact, Silk Soymilk has 50% more calcium than dairy milk. Soy is also a complete protein, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids our bodies need.

Some other Silk Brand features you’ll find:

  • Lactose-free
  • Dairy-free
  • Cholesterol-free
  • No high-fructose corn syrup
  • No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  • Non-GMO project verified

Silk Soymilk can be enjoyed on its own and in the same ways you might use dairy milk…in coffee, cereal, smoothies and more! Silk currently offers 11 varieties of Soymilk, including Original, Vanilla, Very Vanilla and Chocolate (my fave!). For anyone concerned about carageenan (an additive I typically avoid), I have good news! Due to customer feedback, Silk has committed to removing carageenan from all of their soy products by the end of 2015. High-five Silk! :) Gotta love a company that listens and responds so well to their consumers!

Now on to the really good stuff. After perusing the awesome Silk site and gaining inspiration from their many recipes, I decided to get creative and whip up my own.  You guys are going to loooove this super-easy, 3-ingredient treat that can be enjoyed as a post-workout recovery, midday snack, dessert or even breakfast!



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Chocolate Banana Chia Pudding

Serves 3
Super easy chocolatey chia pudding packed with lots of plant-based protein!


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Prep Time
10 min

Prep Time
10 min

Ingredients
  1. 2 cups Silk Chocolate Soymilk
  2. 2 ripe bananas
  3. 1/3 cup chia seeds
  4. dark chocolate morsels (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine Silk Chocolate Soymilk and bananas in a blender until smooth.
  2. Spoon chia seeds into mason jars.
  3. Pour chocolate banana soymilk mixture over chia seeds, stirring as you go.
  4. Cover jar with lid and shake vigorously to distribute chia evenly.
  5. Allow pudding to set in refrigerator for up to 4 hours.
KH Nutrition http://khnutrition.com/



Chocolate Banana Chia Pudding



 

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This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Silk.