Product Review: Blue Diamond Almonds in Two New Flavors

Back in May, I gave a less-than-enthusiastic review of Planter's Flavor Grove Skinless Almonds Chili Lime To recap, I found them bland and soggy and uninteresting. Indeed, the remainder of the bag is still sitting, untouched, on the side table behind my desk. I should feed them to the chickens.

By way of striking contrast, there are two new, or new-ish, flavors of almonds from Blue Diamond that are rocking my world. Blue Diamond, as you may be aware, are the folks who have, for years, put out the venerable Smokehouse Almonds, and extremely tasty they are, too. It's clear these folks have a way with almonds. (By contrast, when I think of Planter's, I think of peanuts, don't you?) My greatest difficulty in writing this review is that the two cans of almonds are sitting here in front of me, and it's very hard to keep my hands off them and on the keyboard.

The two new flavors are part of a line called, simply "BOLD." Specifically, I've been munching Habanero BBQ and Wasabi & Soy Sauce, and the flavors are definitely bold, as advertised. I'm hard pressed to say which is my favorite.

If you were, in your pre-low-carb days, a barbecue potato chip fan, then the Blue Diamond BOLD Habanero BBQ Almonds are for you. The coating has a very similar flavor to the red powder on barbecue chips. The almonds are delectably crisp, and the seasoning is full-flavored. Don't let the word "Habanero" scare you off; these are not as hot as that legendary pepper might lead you to expect. They've got a little bite, but nothing that will make you gulp your light beer, unless you've got very timid taste buds.

The ingredients on the Habanero BBQ Almonds are not pristine; they include a little sugar and molasses powder, plus a touch of maltodextrin. However, 1 ounce -- about 28 nuts, or 1/6 of a can -- contains a total of 5 grams of carb, with 3 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of just 2 grams. Not being a purist, I can live with that. I can also live with the not-so-great vegetable oils these are cooked in; I'll take another fish oil capsule to balance the omega-6s. I don't get a lot of omega-6s overall.

As I said, the Habanero BBQ, while full-flavored, are not intimidatingly sharp. The ... Blue Diamond BOLD Wasabi & Soy are a whole 'nother kettle of fish. Or almonds. They definitely make your eyes open up a little wider, and tweak your sinuses a tad. I like that in a food! I used to eat Wasabi Chips that were so strong they made my eyes water; I loved 'em! Sadly, the main ingredient was potato starch, so I haven't had them in many a long day. These Wasabi & Soy almonds aren't quite that hot, but they're very assertive.

If you're unacquainted with wasabi, it's... well, it's wasabi. It's not anything like hot peppers. It's closer to horseradish, or strong mustard, but really, it's itself. That said, oddly enough the ingredient list on the Wasabi & Soy Almonds does not include wasabi in the ingredient list, but instead mentions horseradish. Dunno why. They're still addictive.

These, too, have some less-than ideal ingredients, including sugar, cornstarch, and maltodextrin. These ingredients make the Wasabi & Soy almonds just a little higher carb than the Habanero BBQ almonds: 6 grams carbohydrate, with 3 grams fiber, for a usable carb count of three grams. They, too, have the not-great vegetable oils; they're hard to get away from.

Looking up roasted and salted almonds on the USDA Nutrient Database, we discover that 1 ounce has 5 grams of carb with 3 grams fiber, so the Habanero BBQ has so little sugar, etc, that it doesn't add a measurable quantity of carbohydrate to a serving, while the Wasabi & Soy have enough to add just 1 gram. That's not enough to put me off.

I also compared the fat content of these with that of raw, shelled almonds; they have 1 gram more fat per serving. Since it's unlikely that much of the original almond oil cooks out, that means they should retain only 1 gram per serving of the cooking oils.

Both versions have 6 grams of protein per serving. They're a pretty good source of vitamin E, calcium, and magnesium, too.

The great thing about these, for me, is that they are so full-flavored that a handful is satisfying. I haven't counted, but I'm guessing I usually eat fewer than the 28 nuts that are listed on the label as a 1-ounce serving. Despite really loving them, my first can of Wasabi & Soy Almonds lasted nearly a week sitting on my kitchen counter. That's pretty good.

In short, I think I've found a new staple. Next I'll be trying the three other BOLD flavors, Jalapeno Smokehouse, Lime & Chili, and Salt & Vinegar.

And the folks at Planter's might want to take notes.

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Bold Blazin' Buffalo Wing variety

I just picked up this variety and the Habanero BBQ mentioned above. I LOVE them. The Blazin Buffalow Wing is also a Blue Diamond variety and is comparable to the Habanero nutritionally. Same net carbs, same bad oils, etc., that you mentioned above. I got mine at Walmart.
They are soooo worth it IMHO.

Inspired Utterly Delectable Almonds

Here in England, low-carb OTC products are very thin on the ground and, as you know, I probably wouldn't buy them anyway, so thus inspired by this article, I've been tinkering in the kitchen this afternoon and... delicious success!
Dry fry a handful of almonds in a frying pan, moving them about with a wooden spoon. In between moving the almonds about, mix a dollop of wasabi paste with a few drops of tamari soy sauce (and easy on the soy, or it overtakes the wasabi)in a bowl. Mix the resulting paste into the pan of almonds until the paste leaves just a smidge of coating on the nuts. Leave to cool and scoff. No other ingredients.
Two things:
One: the nice boy I married couldn't place the two ingredients until I told him, but said that it would make a great taste (marinade) for pork in his opinion - before going on to eat ALL the remaining nuts from the second larger wasabi-heavy batch I cooked.
Two: I strongly suspect that the horseradish in the ingredients/wasabi in the product is because the heat in trendy wasabi is wiped out in the cooking process while untrendy horseradish has the stamina to withstand it. I can't prove this right now as I have only wasabi paste but no horseradish in the house at the mo, but I'm pretty sure I'm right. Only horseradish has that sinus-searing heat that we're looking for here, so I'm going to have to hit the shops tomorrow.

Real Wasabi is rare

Hello Dana,

I’ve been reading your blog (and several books) for more than a year, and finally decided to add a comment!

True wasabi is very expensive, and quite rare in the US. Instead, what we are served here is usually horse radish, occasionally mixed with mustard, and colored with green food coloring. So it’s not surprising there is no wasabi in the “wasabi” flavored nuts.

I learned this a few years ago when a Japanese co-worker complained about the lack of “real” wasabi here in the US.

The wikipedia discussion on wasabi confirms this.

Wasabi

Interesting, thank you. Fortunately, I am quite fond of both horseradish and mustard, so it all works out for me. :-D

Mmmm...

Both the Lime & Chili and the Salt & Vinegar varieties can easily be described as happiness in a can; they're hands down my favorite snack food!

Two better flavors

My favorite almond flavor of all time was the Maui Onion and Garlic almonds, but those are next to impossible to find any longer. The more common blazing buffalo wings flavor is also pretty good too. I however struggle with portion control on these, so I have put them on the food non grata list for now.

Brands?

Those both sound great. What brand were they, and when you could find 'em, where did you find 'em?