A lot of Paleo recipes will call for almond flour or almond meal. Almond meal is almonds that are ground up into a flour like consistency, with the skins still on them. Almond flour (or blanched almond flour) simply has the skins removed. You can use the two interchangeably, but it will affect the texture of your final product. Almond meal is going to have a grainier texture, whereas almond flour will have a more flour like texture. So, if you want chocolate chip cookies that look like the non-paleo version, you’ll want to stick with almond flour. If you don’t mind your cookies having a more oatmeal cookie like texture, almond meal would be fine. Generally, almond meal will be less expensive, so if you’re looking to cut costs and don’t mind the texture, you can use that. Both can be purchased online, or sometimes in the bulk food sections at health food stores. I have seen almond flour at Target before, but per pound, it’s way overpriced there. This place has a great price per pound.
You can also make your own. For almond meal, just put a small amount of almonds into your food processor (you can use a coffee grinder if you don’t have one) and pulse a few times until the almonds become flour like. Be careful that you don’t pulse them too much, or you’ll end up with almond butter (also delicious). For almond flour, if you buy blanched (skinless) almonds, you just pulse them in the food processor, and it’s easy. Blanched almonds cost more though, so if you’re trying to save some money, you can blanch your own. To do this, bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove. Once it’s boiling, add your almonds and boil for one minute. (They will start to get soft if you boil them longer). Then drain your almonds and rinse them with cold water. Then, you need to peel them. Usually if you peel the end off, you can squeeze the almonds out. This can be time consuming and a bit of a pain, but if you do it while you’re watching tv or listening to music, it’s a bit more bearable. Then, you need to dry the almonds out. You can do this in one of several different ways. On baking sheets in the oven at 175 degrees for a few hours, on a food dehydrator, or just let them air dry overnight. Then, pulse them in your food processor until they become flour. We’re on a tight budget these days, so we generally buy almonds in bulk at Costco/Sam’s Club/Bulk section of a health food store and make our own to save some money. It’s easy to do once you get the hang of it. It can be stored in the freezer, long term, or the refrigerator, to keep it from going rancid. Some people also store theirs in air tight containers on their counter if they use it quickly enough. You also want to let it come to room temperature before using it, so that it’s not clumpy and difficult to work with.
Now that you know how what they are used for, and how to make your own, I just want to point out that almond meal/flour shouldn’t be used all the time, especially if you are trying to lose weight.