Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Daniel Fast, Day 3: The Almond Edition

I have almonds roasting in the oven.  It's the very first time I've ever tried to roast almonds, or, I think, any nuts.  (I think maybe I tried once to roast some peanuts; I seem to remember them coming out a little overdone.) I put a little too much extra virgin olive oil, Kosher salt, and ground black pepper into the bottom of a 1 C measure, put in a good couple handfuls of raw almonds, stirred them with the tip of a sturdy plastic knife, and put them in a single layer into an aluminum pie tin.  They're in a 200ºF oven (I'm guessing at that; the lowest temperature on the knob reads 250ºF, and I turned it far enough leftward to where the correct temp would be if it were marked on the knob), and I'm stirring them every five minutes or so until I think they're done.

That may seem a little low, but even at 200ºF they're cooking a little high, according to the good folks on the site The World's Healthiest Foods, who recommend a temperature of no higher than 170ºF.  They say that research has shown that beyond this temperature, the fats in almonds break down, and they form free radicals in the blood.  Since most of the other sites I checked for instructions gave cooking temps ranging 325-400ºF, it's a safe bet that the roasted nuts you buy in the store are also cooked high, possibly making them less healthy for you than if they were roasted the WHFoods way, and that's before they use cottonseed and other unhealthy oils in unhealthy amounts to roast them, ruining them further.

I think God likes almonds.  I think, in fact, that while Jesus walked the earth, He probably snacked on a lot of them :-).  My reasons for thinking this are three.  In the first case, for the crafting of the decorations and implements for the Tabernacle of Meeting which the Hebrews used during their 40-year wilderness sojourn, God commanded Moses to have the craftsmen use an almond blossom motif (See verses in Exodus 25 and 37).  In the second case, to settle a series of confrontations between the Hebrews and Moses over his leadership of them after God judged them in the matter of their cowardice and disobedience at the border of the Promised Land (Numbers 13, 14, and 16), God commanded Moses to collect staffs from each of the chiefs of the twelve tribes of Israel, with the tribe of Levi being represented by Aaron.  After each chief had written his name on his staff, the staffs were placed inside the tabernacle and left overnight to see which one God would cause to sprout as an indication of whom He had chosen to stand before Him for the people.  In the morning, when Moses went to collect the staffs, it was the staff of Aaron, in representation of the tribe of Levi, which had sprouted, putting out buds and producing almond blossoms that bore ripe almonds.  So when Moses brought it out with the rest of the staffs, and every staff's owner had collected it, God commanded Moses to place Aaron's staff before the tabernacle as a reminder to the rest of the people, so that they would know that God had chosen their leaders (Numbers 17).

In the third case, some centuries later, God called a young man probably in his teens named Jeremiah to prophesy destruction to a people grown steeped and adamant in spiritual rebellion and all kinds of wickedness.  In a vision, He inaugurated and sanctified Jeremiah, then asked, "What do you see?"  "I see an almond branch," Jeremiah answered.  Then the LORD said, "You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:1-12)."  I think it's a safe conclusion to draw that the almond symbolizes God's steadfastness and His faithfulness to His word.  Side note:  In the Book of Ecclesiastes the almond also symbolizes age (Ecclesiastes 12)

On today's menu:  Breakfast was salted mixed nuts and a banana.  Lunch was raw almonds and an apple.  Supper was a large salad made with mixed greens, slices of cucumber and green bell pepper, large diced tomatoes, and roasted and shelled sunflower nuts drizzled—or more accurately drenched—in olive oil and liberally salted and peppered, with another apple.  I've been snacking on more raw almonds while the ones I tried to roast have been in, and now out of, the oven.  I'm going to eat some, or all, of them, and then I'm going to bed.

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