9 Reasons Why You Should Be Eating More Almonds

I'm a big believer in celebrating the little things — especially on Mondays when it's freezing cold outside and all I want to do is relax after a busy weekend of doing (pretty much) nothing. Fortunately, February 16 is National Almond Day — so if ever there was an opportunity to appreciate life's smaller treasures, it's now.

Because really, almonds deserve some credit. Think about it — for being so tiny, almonds sure do pack a surprisingly good-for-you punch. All you have to do is google "health benefits of almonds" and you're hit with 1.8 million search results all singing the tree nut's praises. They can help lower cholesterol! They're a heart-healthy snack! They help your body fight off infections and might work to prevent Alzheimer's! Eat a one ounce serving of almonds five times a week, and your risk of dying in the next 10 years drops by 26 percent, you guys. There are perfect foods, and then there are perfect foods. I think we can safely say that almonds fall in the latter category.

Look, I'm not some crazy weird almond fangirl who only eats superfoods and can properly pronounce things like acai without looking it up on the Internet first, but as a busy woman on the go, I can appreciate a solid wellness hack here and there — and if you're looking to boost your healthy eating habits without actually spending too much time thinking about it, almonds might be your new go-to treat. Here are a few tried and true ways to work these miracle nuts into your diet without giving it a second thought. Effortless and delicious? Yup, sold.

1. Up your yogurt game

No need to buy flavored yogurts which come packed with sneaky extra sugars. Instead, nutritionist Keri Gans recommends picking up a container of plain, low-fat Greek yogurt and adding in a few toppings of your own to give it some flavor — think fresh fruit, powdered chocolate, and SLIVERED ALMONDS, duh.

2. Find your carbs a buddy

Carbs are delicious — obviously — but they get lonely when you eat them by themselves (not to mention they aren't very filling). Whip up a more substantial snack by pairing your carbohydrate of choice with a healthy fat. Gans suggests pairing apples with cheese, or plain crackers with almond butter, for something that'll keep you feeling more satisfied.

3. Jazz up your oatmeal

Contrary to common belief, oatmeal doesn't have to be the most boring breakfast, ever. Crepes of Wrath mixes up slivered almonds, almond milk, chia seeds, and cherries before adding them to her oats. Let everything sit in the refrigerator overnight so that come morning, voila! Breakfast is ready, and it's so, so good.

4. Give potato chips a break

Chips are delicious and amazing and I would never tell you to give them up forever because that's crazy. But maybe every now and then, should you feel up to a challenge, trade in your salt and vinegar chips for a handful of roasted almonds instead. I promise you won't regret your decision.

5. Give your green smoothie a boost

You're already blending together a bunch of fruits and vegetables into a single nutrient-packed smoothie, so you're probably feeling pretty good about your life decisions right now. Make like Naturally Ella, and turn that already nutritious green drink into a monster green drink by adding some almond milk into the mix. Damn, girl, look at you.

6. Introduce almonds to quinoa and watch their friendship flourish

In a move that can only be described as pure brilliance, Making Thyme for Health combines sliced almonds and quinoa (and cranberries and leeks and parsley) into a salad that is surprisingly good (and, not surprisingly, good for you).

7. Invite almonds over for dessert

See those fudgy, beautiful looking brownies? They're vegan AND gluten-free, you guys. Which means you can feel guilt-free as you go back for seconds, and thirds, and fourths... Cara's Cravings uses finely ground almonds in place of flour to make these decadent masterpieces, proving once more that almonds, in their many forms and variations, are miracle workers.

8. Add them to your pizza

Pizza is already pretty perfect no matter how you eat it. Take a cue from Green Kitchen Stories, and use almond flour and raw cauliflower to create your crust. Then, load your pie with whatever veggies your little almond-loving heart desires. Delish, no?

9. Step away from the croutons

When you're putting together a salad, you always run the risk of boring yourself to tears. Make sure that never happens to you by trading in your croutons for raw almonds. They'll give you the crunch you're looking for, not to mention all those crazy health benefits we discussed.

Images: Fotolia; Crepes of Wrath; Naturally Ella; Making Thyme for Healthy; Cara's Cravings; Green Kitchen Stories; Filipe Lucas Frazão, trpnblies7, Patsy K, Amazing Almonds/Flickr