Whether you're trying to avoid gluten or simply reduce the amount of bread you eat, almond meal makes an admirable substitute for bread crumbs in almost any situation. Almond meal is available commercially in most grocery stores and you can also make your own at home. Store any unused almond meal in the freezer or refrigerator.
Almond meal is nothing more than ground almonds. Typically the almonds are raw, but read the ingredients. Some almond meals may contain roasted or salted almonds. You can easily substitute almond meal for bread crumb toppings in all sorts of dishes, including macaroni and cheese or rice casseroles. Almond meal is denser than bread crumbs and makes a crisp, filling topping.
To substitute almond meal for a bread crumb topping, simply replace the bread crumbs with an equal amount of almond meal. You can mix the almond meal with herbs, salt, grated cheese or butter if you like, depending on the recipe. In addition to toppings for casseroles, almond meal can stand in for bread and flour in breadings for meat, as well as toppings for fruit crisps.
One of the main drawbacks to using almond meal is its price, as opposed to bread crumbs. Bread crumbs can be had for less than $1.00 per pound, while almond meal costs upwards of $8 or more per pound. Save your pocketbook by making your own. Toss raw almonds into a food processor and grind them until they're the desired consistency. For meal, go with a coarse grind. For a baking flour, grind the almonds until they're a fine consistency. Almond meal should not be used by anyone with a nut allergy.
From a nutrition standpoint, almond meal is probably a better choice than bread crumb toppings. One hundred grams of almond meal -- which is a little less than a cup -- has only 144 calories, while 100 grams of bread crumbs has a whopping 395 calories. The same amount of bread crumbs has 72 grams of carbohydrates, while almond meal has only 2 grams. Almond meal does have more fat -- 12 grams, as compared to 5 grams -- but almond meal contains monounsaturated fats, which lower bad cholesterol levels.
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