Yeah – it’s going to be peach season soon. Try one of my favorite summertime desserts with a made-from-scratch almond paste and oh yes… peaches! Don’t let the almond paste intimidate you, it’s so easy to make! Blanching almonds and removing the skins is the only time-consuming part but you Vatas have already been removing the skins off almonds for a while now!  Enjoy the process of making this dessert. It’s worth it – I promise!

Eastern View: Peaches belong to the class of sub-sour fruits. Their sourness improves digestion while gently cleansing the liver. Peaches are so easy to digest they are often given pureed to babies. As the sourness in a peach makes the mouth juicy, it also makes the digestive tract juicy, encouraging smoother, softer stools and easy elimination. Peaches are also high in fiber.

Peaches are good for those who suffer from loss of appetite due to excess heat in the system. This can come from any type of high pitta such as fever or a bladder infection but can be from something as simple as the annual end-of-the-summer rise in heat within the body. Peaches will calm excess vata or reduce gas and bloating but in excess can increase kapha or mucous. When in season, eating two or three peaches a week is good for everyone.

In general fruits are sugary and may provoke Kapha dosha. Peaches are also slightly heating, increasing Pitta. That sticky, sweaty feeling after eating too many peaches is your cue that too many peaches under a hot sun may overstimulate your metabolism on a hot day.

Peach kernels are a common ingredient used in traditional Chinese medicine to dispel blood stasis, counter inflammation and reduce allergies. Like many orange colored foods, peaches are high in beta-carotene which helps make Vitamin A – and good for the eyes.

Western View: According to a study from Texas A&M, stone fruit like peaches, plums, and nectarines have been shown to ward off obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. The study suggests that stone fruits have bioactive and phenolic compounds with anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory properties that may also reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL) associated with cardiovascular disease. The authors attribute the benefits to four major phenolic groups in stone fruits: anthocyanins, chlorogenic acids, quercetins, and catechins, all of which work together and complement each other to fight off obesity-related illness

As an excellent source of the strong antioxidant vitamin C, peaches can also help combat the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. While an adequate vitamin C intake is necessary and very beneficial as an antioxidant, the amount necessary to consume for treatment purposes for cancer is thought to be beyond oral intake. High fiber intakes from all fruits and vegetables are associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.

Another study from Texas A&M showed that peaches and plum extracts were effective in killing even the most aggressive types of breast cancer cells and did not harm normal healthy cells in the process.

Studies have shown that type 1 diabetics who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels and type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipids, and insulin levels. One medium peach provides about 2 grams of fiber. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 21-25 g/day for women and 30-38 g/day for men.

The fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and choline content in peaches all support heart health. An increase in potassium intake along with a decrease in sodium intake is the most important dietary change that a person can make to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, according to Dr. Mark Houston, an associate clinical professor of medicine at Vanderbilt Medical School and director of the Hypertension Institute at St. Thomas Hospital in Tennessee.

In one study, those who consumed 4069 mg of potassium per day had a 49% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed less potassium (about 1000 mg per day).

A higher intake of fruits (3 or more servings per day) has been shown to decrease the risk and progression of age-related macular degeneration.

It is important to note that the benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds, including peaches, are infinite. As plant food consumption goes up, the risk of all lifestyle related diseases (such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease) goes down. High fruit and vegetable intake is also associated with healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, lower weight, and lower risk of mortality.

So go ahead, have another peach!

Rugelach with Almonds And Peaches

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 stick butter at room temperature
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
  • generous pinch of salt
  • generous pinch of sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups blanched almonds
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons amaretto
  • generous pinch of salt
  • about 3 peaches, skin removed
  • 1 egg for an egg wash
  • a handful of sliced almonds for topping

Directions

Combine butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add flour, salt and sugar and mix until there are no more patches of flour. Take dough out of mixing bowl and push into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours, or up to three days.

Blanch the almonds: Place almonds in a bowl, pour boiling water over them. As soon as the almonds are cool enough to touch you can pop their skins right off simply by pinching them! Add all the ingredients for the almond paste into your food processor and blend.

Sprinkle a dry surface with flour to roll dough.  Roll dough into a big circle, trying to keep the entire thing the same thickness. Spread on the almond paste.  Cut into even triangles, like you’re cutting a pizza. Place a peach slice at the end of each triangle and starting from the peach side roll up the dough around the peach. Brush with an egg wash for a shiny look and sprinkle on some sliced almonds and a little pinch of sugar if you like. If you have room in your fridge or freezer it’s best to refrigerate them for a bit before placing into a 350F oven for 25 minutes.

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In health,

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