Argan Oil: Unique and Versatile
Extracted from nuts growing on argan trees (Argania spinosa) in Morocco, argan oil is often referred to as liquid gold – and for good reason. The versatility of this precious resource continues to astound researchers, as it is put to use in cosmetics, health foods, medicinal remedies and more. Exceptionally high in vitamin E and essential fatty acids, argan oil has been used by Moroccans for generations on their skin, hair and nails, with its soothing properties making it an ideal moisturizer for the tender skin of babies. In the kitchen, the nutty-flavored oil is drizzled over salads and couscous or used as an ingredient for amlou, a delicious almond and honey-based spread.
Amlou is relatively easy to make and is a favorite breakfast or teatime treat in many Moroccan homes. To make amlou you will need around 200g almonds, 180ml argan oil, 4 tablespoons warm honey, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and a pinch of salt. Spread the almonds out on a baking pan and roast in the oven at 190 deg C until crunchy and darkened which takes about 15-minutes. Be sure not to burn them. Crush the almonds into a smooth paste and then stir the almond paste vigorously while slowly trickling the argan oil into it. Then gradually add the honey, sugar and salt while stirring continuously. Serve the amlou in a dish accompanied by bread for dipping. Amlou can be stored in a cool, dark cupboard in a tightly sealed jar for up to two months.
While argan oil is a delicious treat, its properties as a beauty treatment appear to be attracting the most attention, as eco-savvy consumers try to avoid the multitude of chemicals in products today. According to a recent survey in the United States, the average woman could absorb up to 500 chemicals a day through shower gels, shampoos, body lotions and other beauty and grooming products. Cold-pressed argan oil extracted from nuts without the use of chemicals offers an eco-friendly and healthy alternative to many beauty products, and because it is sourced from cooperatives run by Berber women in Morocco, argan oil also offers a much-needed source of income in these rural areas – so you can indulge in some superb beauty treatments and support a good cause at the same time.