There are a few things you can find on grocery store shelves that are marvelous creations entirely too challenging (or mystifying) to replicate at home. (For example, cheese puffs — how do they do that?! Peanut butter filled pretzels — how do they get the peanut butter in there?!)
In the case of nut butter, however, there’s nothing magic about the process used to create it. What is mystifying is how many ingredients hide amidst all the store-bought almond-y, peanut-y goodness to keep the nut butters shelf-stable for months on end. These added preservatives and coloring or flavoring agents take a food packed with healthy fats and nutrients and fill it with added sugar, fat and non-food ingredients your body can’t use — and definitely doesn’t need.
If you have a food processor or blender, you can make your own almond or other nut butter right in your own kitchen. It’s guaranteed to be healthier, packed with more delicious nutty flavors and can even be customized to suit your tastes (salty, sweet, filled with special healthy mix-ins…).
One note about nuts and nut butters: nuts are easier to digest and your body has an easier time absorbing their nutrients if they’re soaked overnight before making the nut butter. To soak, simply place the nuts in a bowl and cover with water, then cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready to make almond butter, drain the nuts completely and blend with the other ingredients. Voila!
HOMEMADE ALMOND BUTTER
3 1/2 cups raw organic almonds
3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey, plus more if you like it sweet
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 cup raw cacao nibs, crystallized ginger or favorite seeds (optional)
Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and turn the processor “on.” Allow the nuts to spin for 5 minutes or so, until a big ball of almonds forms. Stop the processor, push the mass of almonds down into the blade and turn the processor on again, letting it run another 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl and turn the processor back on; you can walk away at this point and allow the mixture to keep spinning, but be forewarned that it’s hard work for your processor and you might see the mixture smoke a bit as it’s spinning. It doesn’t hurt to turn off the mixer every so often to scrape down the bowl and allow the motor to take a break. After 15 minutes or so, drizzle the maple syrup or honey into the bowl. Continue to process until the almonds become smooth.
Add the cacao nibs, crystal ginger or seeds and pulse until combined.
Scrape the almond butter into a clean container for storage (A pint-sized canning jar works well here.) Allow the almond butter to sit, uncovered, to cool completely before sealing the container and storing it in the fridge.
Fresh almond butter is best used within a month, but can keep for several months longer.
Recipe makes 16 servings at 1 tablespoon each.
Nutrition (per serving): Calories 30; Total Fat: 1.5g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 74mg; Carbohydrate: 3g; Dietary Fiber: 0g; Sugar: 2g; Protein: 1g