Crazy About Nuts
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If I could coin a phrase for my nut addiction, it would probably sound something like nutomania, or using a more scientific term, Prunus-dulcismania, Carya-illinoinensismania. Okay, that’s a little lame. But I truly love nuts, crave them, and have concocted various recipes to make nuts a consistent part of my diet. Sometimes I ponder why I crave them so much. Maybe it’s my vegan diet, and my body screaming for protein. It’s certainly a go-to source for my limited regime. And as a vegan long-distance runner, getting sufficient protein is critical.
My favorite is the almond, but generally, I mix it up with Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts. Have I missed any? Of course, but you get the idea. Besides eating nuts in their natural, crunchy state, I’ve concocted many nut butter recipes and eat them on everything from vegetables, fruits, or mixed in smoothies and other recipes.
Nuts and seeds are a good source of protein and provide filling fiber, minerals, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids which can lessen inflammation and boost immunity. The healthful mono- and polyunsaturated fats in nuts and seed promote a healthy heart, brain, and skin. And nuts are essential in controlling inflammation and preserving normal cell structure throughout our body. To top it off, studies have found that consuming nuts five times a week can reduce the risk of a heart attack by 35%. But be careful, these nutritious nuggets are calorie dense. So eat them in small quantities.
Almond Coconut Butter Recipe
I used to purchase expensive jars of organic nut butter from the health food store until I started making my own. Sure, I get lazy now and then, hating the process of cleaning that tiresome food processor. But when I’m feeling creative and want something different, I flex my creative mind and play with various ingredients to spice up a bland nut butter recipe. Oh, there are so many, but for now, I’ll provide my favorite almond butter recipe.
2½ cups raw almonds
2 tablespoons coconut nectar or 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Flesh from 1 vanilla bean or ¼ teaspoon alcohol-free vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon sea salt (optional)
Preheat oven to 170F.
Spread the almonds onto a baking sheet and mix with coconut nectar until all nuts are covered. Bake for 30 minutes and stir once half way through.
Remove almonds from the oven and add to food processor.
Add remaining ingredients.
Process until powdery, scraping the bowl as needed. Continue processing until smooth and creamy. This should take between 10-15 minutes, depending on your processor.
Transfer nut butter to a glass jar fitted with a lid. It will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks.
Don’t be afraid to play around. You can add other nuts to this recipe such as pecans, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts or your nut of choice. Or try adding other spices, and sweeteners such as agave nectar.
A Few Ways to Eat Nut Butter:
Spread on toast
Add a dollop to smoothies for extra richness
Use it in salad dressings
Spread on fruits such as apples
Use them as fillers in desserts
Or eat it straight out of the jar