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Nuts for Nut Butters!

Posted: October 11th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: DIY, Lunch, Pantry staples | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

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I might have been the only child on the face of the planet who despised Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I started eating nut butter. I didn’t know what I was missing! My tipping point occured when I started packing my own lunches for work, and realized all the possibilities for these creamy spreads!

No longer is the pb+j the standard! Looking for a way to liven your lunchbox? A healthy spread for your child’s sandwiches? Something new to dip vegetables in? Consider trying a new nut butter! Nuts are high in protein, fiber and good fats, and even a small amount can add a boost of flavor to your meals.

Most supermarkets carry specialty nut butters these days, but if you can’t find them, your local health food store is a great resource. And for the most economical way to enjoy nut butters, make your own at home!

1. Almond Butter

The almond is a sweet nut, that lends itself well to sweet flavors. A good alternative flavor-wise to peanut butters, goes well in sandwiches, spread on fruit, or stirred into oatmeal. For homemade, process for up to 15 minutes in the food processor (until it forms a smooth, spreadable paste).

Try one of these combos: [Almond Butter + Figs] or [Almond Butter + Apricots] or [Almond Butter + Orange Zest] or [Almond Butter + Honey] or [Almond Butter+ Chocolate Chips + sprinkle of Coconut] or [Almond Butter + Sliced Cherries]

2. Cashew Butter

Cashew butter is incredibly creamy with great mouth feel and a more subtle nut flavor. It lends itself well to Indian flavors and spices. Cashews also go well with other tropical fruits, such as mango and pineapple. For store bought, try For homemade, process for 2 to 5 minutes in the food processor.

Try one of these combos: [Cashew Butter + Curried Chicken Salad] or  [Cashew Butter+ Mango] or [ Cashew Butter + Pineapple] or [Cashew Butter+ Sliced Banana].

3. Hazelnut Butter

Most people equate hazelnut butter with outrageously sweet chocolate and hazelnut spreads, but savory hazelnut butter made out of plain ‘ole hazelnuts is a wonderful addition to sandwiches and can lend itself to a wide variety of flavors. For homemade, process hazelnuts in the food processer for 5 to 10 minutes.

Try one of these combos: [Hazelnut butter (unsweetened) + salty cheese (feta or goat)] or [hazelnut butter+ sliced bananas+honey] or [hazelnut butter + roasted pumpkin (or pumpkin puree)] or [hazelnut butter+ stilton cheese+pears].

4. Walnut Butter

Walnut butter is a slightly bitter, slightly sweet spread. The flavor is definitely more bitter than other butters, but don’t let that deter you! For homemade, this butter processes quickly in just a few minutes. (Occasionally I’ll add a pinch of sugar and cinnamon in my version.)

Try one of these combos: [Walnut Butter+Apples+Honey] or [Walnut Butter+Bananas] or [Walnut Butter + dried figs] or [Walnut Butter+Sliced Pears] or [Walnut Butter+Prunes] or [Walnut Butter+ Roasted Sweet Potatoes +Cumin].

Tips for making your own nut butters:

  • Use raw nuts, or toast lightly for 10-12 minutes before processing.
  • No oil needed – but a pinch of salt can add depth to your butter (without making it salty.)
  • Nut butters are easily made by grinding nuts in a food processor until they form a smooth paste. The time it takes ranges from 2 minutes for cashews to up to 15 minutes.
  • Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl if you see the nuts aren’t blending well.
  • Because they are more perishable than shelf stable butters that you buy, make your nut butter in small batches, and store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to a month.
  • For easy spreading, allow nut butter to come to room temperature.

    For more inspiration on cooking with nuts – here are a few books on the subject:

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    Nuts in the Kitchen by Susan Herman Loomis , 272 pages

    Nuts: More than 75 Delicious & Healthy Recipes , 128 pages.

    photo via thegreendiva

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