When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Homemade Fruit and Nut Butter

I really enjoy the kitchen adventure of creating my own homemade versions of foods that we regularly buy at the grocery store.  It's often a pleasant surprise to discover how delicious an everyday staple can become when I experiment with my own ingredients and come up with goods that are a little more special than usual.

This morning I decided to put together a jazzed-up version of nut butter, which is something we all eat often in our house.  I toasted a variety of shelled nuts and whirred them around in my food processor with some shredded coconut and a couple of dates, adding a bit of cinnamon and vanilla extract at the end to give it an extra flavour boost.  The result was a creamy, tempting combination of  lightly salted nuttiness and natural sweetness --  nut butter at a whole new level!

Homemade Fruit and Nut Butter

1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup raw pecans
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
a pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 large pitted Medjool dates
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Place the almonds, walnuts, pecans, and cashews in a mixing bowl.  Drizzle the melted coconut oil and sprinkle the sea salt over top of the nuts; stir to coat them well.  Spread the nuts out on a rimmed baking sheet, and toast them in a preheated 325 F oven for 8 minutes, stirring once half way through.  Let the nuts cool.

Place the cooled nuts in the bowl of a powerful food processor along with the shredded coconut and the dates. Process at high speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed, until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  (This took about five minutes in my machine.)  Add in the cinnamon and vanilla and process the mixture briefly once again to blend them in.

Spoon the finished fruit and nut butter into a glass jar with a lid and store it in the refrigerator.

This homemade fruit and nut butter is delicious spread on toast (no need for any jam or honey!) or rice cakes, as a dip for apple slices and celery sticks, or drizzled over a morning bowl of oatmeal.  I'm sure we'll find other great ways to use it, too; it was simple to make and I'm pretty certain we'll be enjoying this recipe often!

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