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  • Writer's pictureMcKenna

the ultimate nut butter

Nut butter - all the rage these days.

It seems like shelves are flooded with different brands & wild flavorful spins. Personally, I'm all for it. I've always been a huge fan of nut butter, quite honestly, it's a mild addiction. But considering I grew up on Jif, a brand loaded with far from good-for you ingredients like hydrogenated vegetable oil & added sugar (non-organic), I'm a bit happier with my selection of brands these days.

I think it's pretty neat that there are a handful of companies out there making nut butter with minimal ingredients that are top quality. Honestly, a good nut butter doesn't need anything other than the nuts & maybe a bit of sea salt. However, the unique flavors are fun & quite tasty! It also goes to show that you can have a delicious spread with ingredients that our bodies actually love - not those vegetable oils & such.

But before I get into it, I'd like to talk about a few things:

1. What to look for in the ingredients

2. Brands + flavors on the market

What to look for:

As I mentioned, a good nut butter really doesn't need anything other than the ground-up nuts & possibly sea salt (but not necessary). Salt is considered a flavor enhancer so it is often used, especially in single-ingredient foods!

Salt is not all that horrendous either, especially if you eat mostly whole foods as you may actually be lacking in salt. However, that's an article for another day. That said, look for brands specifically stating sea salt, Celtic sea salt, or Himalayan salt vs just "salt."

Another thing you might notice on the label is that it says roasted nuts. Roasting is often utilized as another way to enhance the flavor. However, many companies (not all), may roast these nuts at high temperatures as it speeds up the roasting time. Unfortunately, this can degrade the nutrient density of the nuts, oxidizing the beneficial fats that most nuts provide. This actually makes them quite harmful for us to consume - who would have thought! If you want to learn more about this, check out my Instagram post here for a deeper explanation :). That said, this personally is not my top concern. Again, not all companies roast their nuts at such high temps, in fact, smaller companies with an emphasis on creating "better for you products" might be aware of the degradation & take measures to avoid this completely. The best thing I'd recommend is to reach out directly & ask, especially those smaller businesses.

In my own opinion, I would much rather look for brands using organic, whole ingredients that are free of added oils/ preservatives/ & highly processed sugars. However, making your own nut butter & roasting them yourself is always a great way to control for this!

What about sprouted nut butter?

You heard that right! Some brands have gone the extra mile by sprouting their nuts! In my opinion, this is the gold standard. Foods that have been soaked & sprouted have more bioavailable nutrients - meaning our bodies are able to absorb more of the nutrients that food contains. But how the heck does this work? Check out a blog post I did with my wonderful friend Meg De Jong on the benefits of soaking, sprouting, & fermenting if you want to learn more! We talked about this process while using grains but the same applies to nuts.

A few brands and flavors to try:

So, what about all the crazy flavors out there? Like cinnamon snickerdoodle, chocolate hazelnut, salted caramel, maple pecan...well, actually, many of these flavors are created by companies that use minimal, local, & organic ingredients that are actually quite nourishing for our bodies. Not to mention, if they decide to sweeten their blends, they do so with organic, natural options like honey, maple syrup, & coconut sugar.

Let's look at GroundUp Nut Butters for example. Their Café de Olla Nut Butter contains just: Almonds, Cashews, Coconut Oil, Coconut Sugar, Espresso Powder, Cinnamon, Clove, Star Anise + Sea Salt.

JEM Organics is another company that created the decadent Salted Carmel Almond Butter. It contains: Sprouted Almonds, Sprouted Cashews, Coconut Sugar, Vanilla + Jacobsen Sea Salt.

As you can see, these are a far cry from the Jif or Skippy many of us were raised on. These companies are pretty awesome too. GroundUp provides jobs for women facing adversity while JEM stands by creating sustainable products & practices. I love to shop from both of them, especially when I'm craving something a little different.

That said, I do love to make my own! It's quite rewarding to make something from scratch instead of purchasing it pre-made. And honestly, it's pretty darn easy.

Making your own nut butter:

If you haven't tried making nut butter before, PLEASE DO. It might just be me, but it's fascinating to watch the nuts go from their whole form to a silky blend of deliciousness in a matter of minutes. And the combinations you could concoct... well, the options are endless. Okay, that's enough of my talk on nut butter. This recipe below was made one Sunday morning in Madrid & truthfully, amounted to my dream nut butter. I have yet to make another one just as good (in my opinion). Hope you give it a try & fall in love with the process of curating something unique with a few whole ingredients.


1 1/2 c hazelnut

1 c cashew

1/2 c pecan

1 c dried coconut

2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ginger

S T E P S:

  1. Heat the oven to 350F /175C

  2. Place hazelnuts/cashews on a baking pan, roast until just golden brown (about 15min)

  3. Place pecans on separate pan & roast until golden brown (pecans roast faster, about 10min)

  4. When the pecans are about halfway done roasting, add the coconut flakes (they will get brown very quickly so be sure to keep an eye on it - should only take a few min)

  5. Let them cool

  6. Once cooled, take the shell off the hazelnuts (I promise they come off super easy after roasting). Just grab a few in your hand & rub the outside shell off - slides off like butter!

  7. Add the nuts/coconut to a food processor, blend for about 1 min

  8. Add the rest of the ingredients & blend until smooth

*NOTE: It’ll take some time to blend until you get that creamy consistency, but be patient & just keep blending! In total, it probably took me 15 minutes to reach the creamy texture I was aiming for.


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