It is good to minimise the use of margarine type spreads because none of them are very healthy. Still use them, of course, but aim for moderation. It is easy to replace margarine at times with pureed avocado or hummus or other bean-based spreads (home made). Nut butters are another alternative.
Cashew butter, almond butter, pistachio butter and peanut butter can all be made – all so very delicious and useful in many ways, not just for spreads. Other butters include sesame butter (tahini), peanut sesame butter, hazelnut butter, walnut butter, sunflower seed butter, and pepita butter.
Be adventurous in your uses. For example, have cashew butter on porridge with some coconut oil and fruit. It is very good! Use almond butter with sherry vinegar to make a salad dressing. Nut butters can be used for dips, or spooned into soups and wet curries. They good well over steamed vegetables. You can mix them with lemon juice or vinegar and thinned with water to make a great dressing. They are delicious mixed with pomegranate molasses or tahini.
Home made peanut butter is so fresh and vital made this way, I urge you to try it and compare the taste with your purchased peanut butter.
It is so easy to make. Imagine the kids coming home from school and you say “let me whip you up a fresh batch of peanut butter for your snacks!”
Take a cup of raw, unsalted nuts (cashews, walnuts, peanuts, macadamias, pinenuts, pistachios, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, or a combination) and place into the food processor. Let the processor run for 2 minutes or so until the nuts are ground and forming a paste. They will look a little grainy. At this point, add a little oil and a pinch of salt, and then continue to process until ground and creamy.
Use a tasteless oil if you can – grapeseed or peanut oil would be fine. Cashews will take 1 – 2 Tblspns of oil, but peanuts, being oilier nuts, may take less.
Nut Butters in the Vitamix
Nut butters are especially easy to make if you have a high speed blender like a Vitamix. Place 1 – 4 cups of nuts in the Vitamix – use the smaller jug if you have one for smaller amounts. Blend on high for 1 minute, using the tamper to keep the nuts moving. Switch the machine off if it begins to labour – it is time to add the oil. Almonds will take 2 minutes of grinding.
Add the oil (canola, grapeseed or peanut), according to the nuts, and blend on high again for 30 seconds.
As a guide, use 15-20ml oil per 1 cup nuts for almonds, and vary the oil level according to the oiliness of the nuts. Pistachios might need more – 15-25ml per cup nuts, less for peanuts – about 0.5 Tblspn per cup nuts.
What is the best way to clean a Vitamix after making nut butters? Make a smoothie.
recipe notes and alternatives
A little sugar or honey can be added with the oil, but is not strictly necessary.
Nuts can be roasted or toasted prior to blending into butter for a deeper taste.
A pinch of salt can be added per cup of nuts, but is also optional.
Try making peanut and sesame seed butter.
Pistachio butter is a little dry and grainier than other butters, but a high speed blender can achieve a smoother paste. It can take more oil than other butters and is delicious with a little honey or sugar included when you are blending it (optional). You can use pistachio oil when making this butter for even more pistachio paste.
Pistachio Butter can be combined with thick yoghurt or cream cheese. Other ways to use are below:
- Make a peanut butter, pistachio butter, and honey sandwich – delicious.
- Spread on bread or toast with banana slices.
- Dip fresh strawberries into melted pistachio butter (microwave the butter for about 40 seconds) and allow to cook in the fridge.
- Melt it in the microwave and drizzle over icecream, fold it into plain or vanilla Greek yogurt, or use in a salad dressing.
- Top your oatmeal or overnight oats with pistachio butter.
- Add to your smoothie.
- Toast some crostini, slather with pistachio paste and top with shards of parmesan or shaved manchego cheese and a light drizzle of orange blossom honey.
- Make pistachio icecream.