Imagine you’ve got a few friends and relatives over for dinner and, after announcing that dessert is served, you hear:
“None for me, thanks. I’m on a [gluten-free/vegan/vegetarian] diet.”
“Appreciate it, but I’ll pass. Trying to lose weight by cutting back on carbs this week.”
“You know I just started doing Paleo, right?” (CrossFit-obsessed friend)
Your mother just glares at your diabetic father in stony silence, as if to say Don’t even think about it.
You smile, tell everyone to relax, and bring out THIS:
Sighs of relief all around (mostly). Your mother nods approvingly at your father, who jumps on his like a man just released from jail.
Amidst all the oohs, aahs and Mmmms, you show them how easy it is to make from scratch. When your newly CrossFit-crazed friend starts arguing that the Coconut Crystals in the nut butter are not “technically Paleo,” you invite her to sit down, munch just her apple and keep quiet, or else head to your kitchen and whip up her own coconut-crystals-free version. Predictably, her purist standards become more fluid as the night wears on. Before long she proclaims “it’s probably OK, just this once,” while scraping her plate clean.
This is about more than merely heading off a guilt-inducing Ben & Jerry’s binge. It’s about indulging your sweet tooth while also sneaking in your fresh fruit quota AND a number of superfoods (raw almonds, raw cacao, coconut oil) said to be packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, plus what some studies have suggested are fat-burning and cholesterol-reducing properties.
By the way, I love it when a healthy snack also works out to be raw, but I’m not a stickler about it. If you are, simply choose a brand of coconut oil that’s certified raw. For the rest of us, unrefined and cold-pressed coconut oil will do just fine.
Best of all, though, when you make your own nut butters, not only do you know exactly what’s in it (no fillers, stabilizers or refined sugars), but the adaptations are endless. I’m already eyeing the Garden of Life Raw Fit Protein powder on my countertop, and mulling over how to create a special protein-boosted post-workout version.
Why would you want to do that, you ask?
Because by now we’ve all read how important it is to consume high-quality protein within an hour after exercise, to give our muscles the fuel needed for recovery and growth. (And increased calorie-burning capacity.) And I don’t know about you, but I’m always scrambling to make sure I’ve got enough healthy high-protein snacks on hand, especially ones that are portable, gluten-free and require no refrigeration. Protein shakes are great, but it’s not like I can pull one out of my hat every time I need one following an offsite workout.
This takes all of five minutes to make, stores and packs great, and makes an excellent and healthy snack or lunchbox stuffer for kids. Carrot or celery sticks with chocolate? Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. (I’m still experimenting, but if you’ve already found other healthy uses for this type of spread, feel free to share.)
Anyway, here’s the recipe. Enjoy!
This recipe was adapted from the Blendtec company's Twister Jar Recipe booklet. I modified the base recipe to substitute raw almonds and exclude refined sugar, replacing it instead with the lower-glycemic natural sweetener, Coconut Crystals.
- 1 1/4 cups raw almonds
- 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder (or high-quality, natural cocoa powder with no added sugar)
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons Coconut Crystals (or other natural, low-glycemic sweetener)
- 1/16 teaspoon kosher salt
- Add ingredients to food processor or blender* in the order listed. Pulse or process until smooth. In my Blendtec, I got the best results with three (3) 40-second cycles on Speed 7.
*If you don't have a high-powered blender at home, note that you may need to run several more cycles and pause repeatedly to scrape the sides down, to get the results shown.
Storage: Refrigeration is recommended to be safe, but I've found that this keeps well for 1-2 days when stored at room temperature...which is usually how long it lasts in my house anyway. That said, it hardens after refrigeration and is no longer "spreadable," so you may want to remove from the fridge several hours before serving it, so it can have a chance to soften.