I have recently been experimenting with making my own nut butters. I don’t usually eat peanuts, so I tend to lean in the direction of butters made from almonds, cashews, and seeds. Nut butters are great sources of protein as well as healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They also contain antioxidants, an array of vitamins and minerals (including vitamin E, iron, and calcium), and fiber. Pairing nut butters with whole grains or beans creates a complete protein. This does not necessarily have to occur in the same meal, but if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, it is important to ingest the full range of essential amino acids over the course of the day.
My favorite butters are almond butter and sunflower seed butter, though I often like to mix different nuts and seeds together. I recently made two different kinds of nut butter- almond cashew butter and almond pumpkin seed butter.
Nuts and seeds can be processed raw or roasted depending on the desired flavor. Roasting nuts will remove some of the beneficial nutrients. Nuts can also be sprouted prior to making nut butter to increase nutrient content.
There are many different options for nut butter ingredients, these include:
A. The nut(s) or seed(s) that you wish to include: almond, cashew, peanut, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, brazil nuts, sesame seeds, or flax seeds.
B. A preservative: You do not need to add a preservative if you plan on using the nut butter within 1 week, but if you would like it to last longer than that it is wise to add a natural preservative. Is usually use Vitamin E (the ingest-able version). Honey also acts as a preservative, but a lot would need to be added to significantly lengthen the freshness of the nut butter. I have not tested my nut butters to see how long they last, but I usually add about 5 mL of Vitamin E per 32 ounces of nuts/seeds. More or less can be added depending on how long you would like the nut butter to last. Refrigerating the nut butter will keep it fresher as well.
C. Sea Salt– A touch of salt can be added to bring out the flavors of the nuts/seeds.
D. Sweetener– If desired, nut butters can be sweetened. Honey, Maple Syrup, Coconut Sugar, and Date Sugar are some healthy sweetener options.
E. Flavor– You may choose to flavor your nut butter with cocoa powder, cinnamon, vanilla extract, or others spices.
Making the nut butter requires a food processor or vita-mix. I have a Cuisinart Food Processor that works great. Add your nuts/seeds of choice to the processor. The length of time required to reach a buttery consistency will vary depending on your ingredients. For instance, cashews blend fairly quickly into a nut butter, while pumpkin and sunflower seeds take much longer to break down.
Process the nuts/seeds, stopping every few minutes to scrape the sides of the bowl. It will probably require 12-25 minutes of processing time depending on your ingredients, the machine you are using, and your desired consistency. Towards the end of the processing time, add in any additional ingredients (salt, sweetener, preservative or flavoring).