Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Nuts to you......almond butter

There was a series of books when I was a kid that we kept at our summer house in North Carolina.  The characters were all animals and it might have had something to do with Busy Town....you know with Loley Worm? Anyway there was a naughty bird that was always up to no good.  In one story he played a series of jokes/pranks on his friends that ended up with him yelling "Nuts to you" and laughing.  They finally got revenge when he opened a door and a wave of nuts poured in on him prompting them to all yell "Nuts to you ......" But that's the problem, I don't remember his name.  I reminded cousin Noah about the story and he remembered it as 'Nightingale'......but that can't be right....it doesn't sound right.

I am haunted by this story.  I think about it all the time.   I have been trying to remember his name for years.....it runs through my head over and over "Nuts to you....." For some reason I always think Gargamel but that's the Smurfs isn't it?


Anyway I digress....If you are an avid reader, and I know you are, you probably remember my recipes for Peanut Butter, Nut Dust and Almond Milk and know that we are pretty nuts around here. So along with a little recipe for Almond Butter I will explain why we are so nutty.

Nuts are a good quality protein. Although they are quite high in fat it is mostly unsaturated fats.  Essential fatty acids (linoleic acid) and vitamin E are part of the nuts oil. Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts and peanuts have the highest vitamin E content.  Most nuts have a general cross section of the B vitamins and are a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and other trace minerals.  Some nuts even have some selenium. Nuts are a moderate source of polyphenol antioxidants (antioxidants)

Almonds in particular are considered to be a cancer preventing nut because of the presence of amygdalin, commonly known as laetrile. You can also find Copper, phosphorus, manganese, and phyto-nutrients (plant nutrients) beta-glucosides (powerful tool for degradation of plant cell walls for pathogens), isorhamnetin glycosides, kaempferol, catechin , protocatechuic acid, naringinen (all flavonols, part of the antioxidant family) and glucopyraniosides.

When we eat raw nuts, we also eat the enzyme inhibitors that prevent the seed from sprouting on the grocery store shelf. This takes a real toll on our digestion, since these enzyme inhibitors also prevent our own bodily enzymes from breaking down the food in our digestive tracts, inhibiting absorption of precious vitamins and minerals.

There are two ways to destroy enzyme inhibitors, soaking and roasting. As is the case with most packaged food, the term “roasted nuts” that you see on the label is a little misleading. You see, roasted nuts are raw nuts essentially deep-fried in saturated palm kernel or cottonseed oil, heavily salted and frequently have other add-ins like corn syrup, flavoring agents and preservatives. If you ever buy roasted nuts, look for the words “dry roasted” and read the ingredient list to ensure that what you are buying is in fact, just nuts.

Or better yet, roast your own

Almond Butter
2 cups raw/natural almonds

Preheat oven 300
  1. Spread almonds out in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes.  You want them to be just toasty brown if you cut one open.  Too brown and they bet bitter.  Remove and let completely cool
  2. Pour almonds into a food processor.  I like to pulse a few times until the almonds are slightly broken up before letting it run.  Blend on the highest setting for 1-2 minutes.  you probably have something that is the consistency of wet sand.  Scrap down the sides and continue to blend.  It will go from sand to wet sand to mud (you may have to break up the larger lumps) to a smooth creamy runny paste.  As many times as I have made it I am amazed every time that something so 'dry' to begin with can become something so creamy.  The more you blend it the more oils are released and the creamier it gets.
  3. Transfer the almond butter to an airtight glass container and store in the refrigerator. Keeps for 1 month.

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