A Tale of Two Nut Butters

Here's a little dietitian confession I'm going to share with y'all. Sometimes, when I'm in a rush (taking my kids to school, picking my kids up from school, rushing my kids off to softball/baseball/basketball/football/soccer practice…ahem, I think you get the picture!), and I don't have time for a proper meal, I dip down in to whatever jar of nut butter I have on hand—usually peanut or almond—swirl a scoop on my spoon, and slowly lick off the creamy, dreamy deliciousness that I know will keep me going until I can sit down to enjoy a proper meal.
 
Rich in heart healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, nuts are one of nature's perfect foods, and they've been highlighted beautifully in both the January/February edition of Food and Nutrition Magazine, "In a Nutshell," by Rachel Begun, RD, as well as on the StoneSoup blog, Nutty Nutrition and Kitchen Challenges, by Jessie Erwin, RD.
 
In case you missed these articles, make sure to read them both, because you'll get a great overview of the health and nutrition benefits of various tree nuts, along with some tasty ideas for adding nuts to your diet.
 
Walnuts and pecansFor me, what's so perfect about nuts and nut butters, is that besides being chock-full of healthy nutrients, the heart healthy fats and fiber in nuts help keep you satiated, full of energy, and feeling happy (i.e. keep your blood sugar level stable), hence the reason I like to do a little nut butter dipping every now and then.
 
Both peanut butter and almond butter are staples in my fridge, but I also like to experiment with “alternative” nut butters such as walnut, pecan, cashew and macadamia. 
 
The problem with these “alternatives," is that even though they are oh-so-tasty, they can also can be oh-so-expensive, which is why I decided to experiment with making my own varieties using my own nuts, spices and flavorings.
 
Note: Check your local grocery store's bulk bin. It's a great place for buying nuts on a budget, and they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months, or in the freezer for up to 1 year.
 
I'm happy to report my nut butter experiment was a smashing success, so without further ado…here is my tale of two nut butters, so you can make your own too!
 


Toasted Vanilla Maple Pecan Nut Butter

Recipe by EA Stewart, MBA, RD

Makes 10 servings

Ingredients
2 cups raw pecans
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
 
Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Place pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Remove pecans from baking sheet immediately, and allow to cool. Be careful not to over-toast! 
  2. Place pecans and sea salt in a food processor and process for approximately 10 minutes, or until desired consistency is achieved. Scrape down the food processor bowl as needed during the process, and add the maple syrup and vanilla extract towards the end.  Store pecan nut butter in a glass jar in the refrigerator. 

Nutrition Notes
Naturally gluten-free and vegan.
 
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 tablespoon
Calories: 145; Fiber: 2 g;  Sugar: 2g; Protein: 2g
Total fat: 14g; Monounsaturated fat: 8g; Polyunsaturated fat: 5 g, Saturated fat: 1g


Raw Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Butter

Recipe by EA Stewart, MBA, RD

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients
2 cups raw walnuts
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pure maple syrup
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ cup raisins
 
Directions

  1. Place walnuts and sea salt in a food processor and process for approximately 10 minutes, or until desired consistency is achieved. Scrape down the food processor bowl as needed during the process, and add the maple syrup and ground cinnamon towards the end.

  2. Stir raisins in to pecan butter and store it in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Notes
Naturally gluten-free and vegan.

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 tablespoon
Calories: 120 calories; Fiber: 1.5g; Sugar: 2.5g; Protein: 2.5g
Total fat: 10g; Monounsaturated 1.5g; ; Polyunsaturated fat 7.5g; Saturated fat: 1g

Serving Suggestions
Perfect for: spreading on fruit or whole grain toast, stirring into oatmeal, blending into a smoothie, accompanying a square of dark chocolate, and, yes, savoring straight off of a spoon!

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EA Stewart, MBA, RD
EA Stewart, MBA, RD, is a registered dietitian and nutritionist specializing in wellness nutrition, weight management, celiac disease and gluten-free, FODMAPs diet therapy, and LEAP food sensitivity testing. Read her blog, The Spicy RD, and follow her on Twitter.