Friday, January 9, 2015

Homemade Nut Butter


Recently, I've made a change in my diet.  I was tired of feeling...well, tired! Even though I was eating healthy (for the most part), including whole grains, beans, fresh veggies, yogurt and all of the other foods recommended to get a well balanced diet, I just felt sluggish.

After eating a bowl of beans and rice, I felt like I needed to take a nap.  And I seemed to have lower intestinal cramping often.

A good friend of mine (I'll call her "Breeze" because an online test told her that "Breeze" would be her hippie name if she were to be a hippie) has followed the Paleo diet for two years now and I wanted what she has.  She lost weight, her skin cleared up and she seems to have boundless energy.

When she first told me what she was doing, I said all the typical things; "I could NEVER go without cheese!" and "I love bread too much to give it up".  So on and so forth I went, but I continued to notice that "Breeze" looked and proclaimed to feel great. The craziest part was that she didn't seem to feel deprived.

Then my mother was told that she had a sensitivity to gluten. During her research, she told me about sugar and refined flours being as damaging to the liver to process as alcohol. What??? Do you mean to tell me that my liver has to function the same way to detox when I eat candy as if I were drinking whiskey?  That's so unfair! Right?

I gave many of the different diets consideration in my quest to feel better but in the end, chose to go with Paleo.   What is Paleo you might ask?  I am by no means an expert, but the skinny of the Paleo way is this...No milk products (except ghee - clarified butter), no grains, no legumes, no artificial ingredients, no processed foods and no soda.  There are some other foods, such as potatoes, which are highly debatable but for the most part, the big three food groups to leave out are dairy (as in cow, goat and sheep milk), grains (yes, this includes all grains), and legumes (dried peas, beans, peanuts, and anything else part of the legume family).  That seems like so much to give up, right? But desperate people do desperate things and I decided to give it a try.

Within two days of eating the Paleo way, I discovered that I was not craving breads like I thought I would.  The crampy bloated feeling is gone.  And that vicious, perpetual cycle of wanting to eat all of the time had all but disappeared.  I am so new into this way of eating that to proclaim it to be THE answer to great health would be ridiculous.  I'll share with you along the way my results and reactions from my family as we try new recipes. I'll also share my struggles of balancing the budget along with every family member's likes and dislikes.  

Because two of my children (ages 17 and 14) wanted to eat this way with me, I decided to look for acceptable substitutes for breads and treats.  I don't want them to feel deprived and give up quickly.

The first quest was to find a substitute for peanut butter.  In my house, a spoon of peanut butter is a fine snack and a quick "go-to" whenever we are hungry outside of mealtimes.  Since peanuts are part of the legume family, they are off limits on the paleo diet.  Also, I noticed that many of the Paleo muffin and bread recipes called for some type of nut butter.

Our Aldi store carries almond butter at a reasonable price (I suppose) but unfortunately, the second ingredient is sugar.  I refuse to pay the ridiculous prices for more gourmet, natural nut butters.  So, I searched and found that making nut butter is quite a simple process!

You can see the photo tutorial that I followed @ heather eats almond butter.com.  While I don't believe Heather is following a Paleo diet, her almond butter recipe works well.  Thank you Heather! You're a lifesaver!

It really is as simple as placing 4 to 6 ounces of nuts of choice into your food processor or blender; blend and scrape sides, blend and scrape sides, and blend and scrape sides some more! It took about three minutes to go from whole nuts to a chunky butter.  You can blend even longer to get a creamier butter.

I made an almond butter first, then a walnut butter. I added a sprinkle of sea salt into my walnut butter along with a small (tsp or less) amount of coconut oil to help make it creamier.  To my almond butter, I added a bit of maple syrup and a tiny bit of coconut.  Heather Eats Almond Butter says to refrigerate your nut butter to prevent the butter from going rancid.  My batches aren't lasting long enough to worry about!

The best part about making your own nut butters, aside from the huge money savings, is that you don't have to worry about extra sugar or oils you don't want in your diet!

I'll be sharing recipes that are a hit with my family as I go along.  Although we are following the Paleo diet, the recipes would also be good for someone who is following a gluten free diet!

Coming up next will be a very tasty Banana Nut Muffin recipe.  The recipe calls for almond butter or walnut butter, so you'd better make yourself a batch!

You can read more on the Paleo concepts here ~


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