Spiced Almonds for when you fancy a little smackerel of something piquant

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet can be rather heavy on the nuts, what with breads, muffins and cakes being mostly composed of them, it's easy to eat rather more than a sensible portion of nuts in a day. I don't eat that much nut bread myself - not because I don't like it, believe me I do! But because I am slowly weaning myself off filling up with bread and increasing my intake of vegetables in its place.

The high carb diet that we are used to eating gives a certain sense of fullness that it can be really tough to replicate with protein and vegetables. You know you're full but there is a niggling sense that something is missing. Carbs make you feel full, content and comforted - no coincidence that most people think of things like buttery mashed potatoes, thick cut crusty white bread or creamy pasta when they want comfort. Carbs also help release tryptophan and serotonin in the brain (feel good chemicals) adding to that sense of completeness we associate with carbs.

On the SCD those carbs are replaced by vegetables and nuts - with the emphasis on vegetables. This is where all the carbohydrate should come from ideally, packaged in a form that the gut can handle, with both soluble and insoluble fibre to help everything move along just nicely. Squash can replace that buttery mash, white almond toast kick that crusty bread craving to the curb and the mandolin is a very handy tool for imitating those long papery strips of pasta you crave (almost).

During the process of adjustment to a new way of eating, it's good to have things that you can snack on and foods that seem to fill that aching gap left by all those comforting carbs. Nut breads and cakes are fantastic - in moderation, but sometimes you just want something savoury, something to crunch, something that makes you lick your fingers afterwards to get the last salty crumbs.

When that salty, savoury craving comes over me, I make spiced nuts. Often I make them quite hot, so I can't stuff huge handfuls of them in at once! It's definitely a strategy that works with Fin.

These are a great addition to mezze, or as a pre-dinner appetiser. Just don't turn your back for too long if you want any for yourself, because when I made these last we were fighting over the salty garlic crumbs at the bottom of the bowl.....

Spiced Marcona Almonds

You can make these with ordinary blanched almonds, or any other nut you like - but my favourite are marcona almonds, creamy when raw and fabulously crunchy and sweet when toasted. I only make small quantities otherwise I find they are just too easy to eat and you know the rest...

They are not suitable for anyone starting the diet, because whole nuts and ground seeds can be hard to digest. I suggest you wait at least three months before trying these.

4oz Blanched Marcona Almonds
1/4 tsp Ground Turmeric
1 tsp Ground Coriander Seed
1/2 tsp Hot Smoked Paprika or Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin Seed
Large Pinch Salt Flakes
Large Clove of Garlic
1 tbs Vegetable Oil

Preheat the oven to 160C fan assisted (170C without) and roast nuts on a tray until pale gold - they should squeak when you bite into one, but be careful not to burn your tongue!

While the nuts are roasting crush the garlic with the salt to a paste, on a board with a knife - or in a pestle and mortar which is easier. add spices and oil and mix to form a runny paste.

When the nuts are done toss them thoroughly in the spice mix to coat and scrape them back onto the baking tray. Return to the oven for 3-5 minutes giving a shake half way through, until the spice paste has dried.

Leave to cool and pack into a jar to keep them crisp (put it on a high shelf so curious snackers can't find it until you want them to).