These almond-packed recipes fit any diet

March is when the real diet battle begins. Sure, you made those New Year’s resolutions to eat better and lose weight. But how did that go?

Celebrity dietician Ashley Koff knows this scenario all to well.

“It’s better to do small, simple things rather than jump into a diet drama,” Koff said during a visit to Sacramento. “People try to go all vegan or eat no meat; they don’t stick with it. But if you take small steps, you can do a lot to cut your calories and sugar intake.”

Koff keeps particularly busy during March, National Nutrition Month. She makes appearances nationwide to promote healthy, smarter eating as well as keep up with her work as a dietician and nutritionist.

Koff serves as nutrition advisor for the “22 Day Challenge,” which attracted international attention in December when Beyoncé and Jay-Z went vegan for 22 days. Celebrity trainer Marco Borges, a friend of Jay-Z, is the founder of 22 Days Nutrition and inspired the famous couple to try a plant-based diet.

In her role, Koff provides nutritional guidance to help people find simple ways to be more plant-based and teaches how to avoid common mistakes.

In developing these recipes, Koff reached for almondmilk. Made from almonds, this versatile product can substitute for dairy in a wide variety of recipes.

For Sacramento-based Blue Diamond Growers, Koff developed several new recipes including a nutrient-packed Berry Smoothie and Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup, using Blue Diamond’s Almond Breeze almondmilk. For more almondmilk recipes, click here.

Koff likes this swap because it offers calorie savings every time. Almondmilk has a lot less calories than milk. One cup of unsweetened Almond Breeze has 30 calories; one cup of 1 percent milk has about 100.

“Look at what you do every day,” Koff said. “That’s where you have the biggest chance of impact. If you swap out dairy for almondmilk in smoothies or lattes, for example, you cut calories and sugar. And you’ll actually get just as much calcium from almondmilk.”

Almondmilk smoothies are a good “fast food” that’s not only quick but healthy, she added. They’re easy to digest, too.

“Liquids really have a benefit in the morning or late afternoon,” Koff said. “I love smoothies. I add almonds for extra protein. Liquids also are a very easy way to get a concentrated amount of phytonutrients.”

These ideas taste good, too, she said, which is important. “Nobody will stick with a nutritional change if it doesn’t deliver on taste.”