How could I live without peanut butter? For the last seven years I’ve brought a peanut butter sandwich to work. Sometimes it’s my main lunch, sometimes it’s a late afternoon snack. On a busy clinic day I’ll see six to seven patients back-to-back for one hour appointments each. That leaves little time to eat…ironic since I’m preaching about good nutrition. But you gotta do what you gotta do. So I pack quick-digesting foods and snacks that I can graze on in the few minutes I have between appointments.
Peanut butter works. It’s filling and easy. I’m not a peanut butter snob; I know that some brands add saturated fat, sugar and salt that make it not so healthy. I just tend to use Natural Jif. But lately it’s been getting boring. So I researched homemade nut butters. I realized that you can use any nuts or seeds in any combination and even add extras like cocoa, spices (try cinnamon, ginger), vanilla extract, agave or honey…even savory flavors like chili powder and curry! I can’t tell you what an epiphany that was! It becomes a superfood: healthful fats from the nuts or seeds and added oil, extra phytochemical nutrients if you toss in herbs or spices, and free of preservatives.
Above is 1/3 cup each of unsalted hazelnuts, almonds and cashews. My 9-year-old son Jake helped me to pulse it for several minutes until ground fine. Then I added about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. You really need this to make it stick together, but you can use less. Jake kept pulsing until the mixture started to resemble nut butter. It yielded about 1 cup.
All nuts and seeds are fantastic sources of heart-healthy unsaturated fats and various minerals. Depending on the type, you may get a larger boost of fiber, iron, calcium, folate, vitamin E, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and potassium. But I think the best strategy is to eat a variety. They all have a unique beneficial nutrient profile, so change it up every week.
Wow, I could not believe the difference in flavors between the homemade version vs. jarred. The nut flavors were so intense! I can’t wait to experiment with more combinations. Let me know if you have a favorite homemade nut butter combo!