Go ahead and go nuts – they are good for you!
Nuts are a good source of monounsaturated fates, omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, vVtamin E, plant sterols and L-Arginine. They can help reduce cholesterol and assist in prevention of heart disease.
But don’t just stop at nuts – branch out and experiment with different nut butters. The most common nut butter is the well-loved peanut butter. Most of us grew up having peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The crunchy version was my favorite. Then as I began eating healthier, I became familiar with almond butter. Now you can get a variety of flavors. The only problem is that most can be fairly expensive and if I want to try a new flavor, I don’t want to risk my hard earned dollars on something I may not like. But there is a simple solution – make your own!
By experimenting with your own nut butters, you can make as little or as much as you’d like. I had a recipe that called for 2 tablespoons of cashew butter. I had never tried cashew butter and didn’t want to buy a whole jar for just one recipe. Now I could have substituted peanut butter, but I wanted to try it with the cashew. So I bought a small bag of cashews, threw them into my blender, and pulsed until the nuts became smooth and creamy – Wallah – cashew butter!
And you don’t have to settle with plain nut butter, many people are adding in spices and other ingredients to make their own unique flavor creations. It’s really a very simple thing that you can do at home. All you need is a food processor, some nuts, and a little oil (optional). If you are going to make just a small batch a blender will work, but for more than just a couple of tablespoons I would really suggest the food processor.
Here is a basic recipe, followed by some suggested add-ins and some nut-butter secrets.
Basic Nut Butter
1 lb. (3 ½ cups) shelled, raw nuts
½ tsp. kosher salt (optional)
1-4 tab. Canola or peanut oil, depending on nuts and personal preference
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes or until the just begin to brown. Remove nuts from baking sheets and allow to cool slightly.1-4 tab. Canola or peanut oil, depending on nuts and personal preference
Place the nuts and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Blend for 20 seconds. With the motor still running, drizzle a tablespoon of oil into the bowl through the chute in the lid, and process for 30 seconds. If the nut butter is still dry, continue to blend and add additional oil, a little at a time. Process for up to another minute to reach your desired consistency. Taste and adjust for salt, if needed, and stir in any flavoring you wish.
Makes about 1 ½ cups. Keeps refrigerated in a covered container for up to 1 month.
Recipe from “The Homemade Pantry”, by Alana Chernila.
Vanilla Almond Butter
Source: Clean Living Recipes by Andrea Graf Nolte
2 cups of almonds
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 tbsp. oil (I used sunflower oil)
Dash sea salt
Process the almonds in a food processor for 10 to 12 minutes, pausing to scrape the sides. The nuts will first become powder, then they will clump together like a dough, then split and become smoother and smoother and you will see the fats/oil ooze out and glisten. Then add the salt, vanilla and the tbsp. of oil and process for another minute. Scrape the sides and spoon the butter into jars. Andrea got almost two jars with this quantity of almonds.
Store in fridge.
Nut Butter Combo Suggestions
- Cashew butter with ginger
- Almond butter with espresso syrup
- Peanut butter with toffee bits
- Peanut butter with cinnamon and raisins
- Hazelnut butter with chocolate
- Walnut butter with cinnamon
Nut Butter Tips and Tricks
- Roast the nuts beforehand to boost their flavor
- Use a full size processor; you’ll burn the motor out of a mini
- If you use a blender, coat the inside with cooking spray for easier release/cleanup
- A little honey or agave adds sweetness without the grit of sugar
- For perfectly smooth nut butter, grind the nuts longer and give them a cooling off period halfway through. The heat from the processor helps the fat in the nuts to melt. As soon as you see it get a little oily, let it cool off for an hour, then restart.
Cooking Light magazine also has a great article on nut butters.
Sources: The Homemade Pantry, The News and Record, Whole Foods.com