Coconut Cashew Butter

So, not to be boastful… But I cook up some pretty yummy things in the kitchen.  Seriously, I could eat my my mushroom gravy on just about anything.  BUT.  One day, I took things to the next level.  I believe my words to John when he walked through the door were “Ohmygosh you have to try this, it’s the best thing I’ve EVER made in the kitchen.”  That’s a pretty bold claim.  What was it, you ask? A gourmet three course dinner? A loaf of French artisan sourdough?  A fancy four-layer molten lava mocha java mudslide cake?  Nope. Nut butter.  Coconut cashew butter to be exact.

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For most people, the word nut butter sounds, well… unladylike.  But think peanut butter.  You know, PB&J sandwiches and peanut butter toast?  Harmless.  Also sooo 2014. These days, I’m all about almond butter, cashew butter, even sunflower seed butter, etc… Peanut butter is a staple in my house and diet, but I have loved getting to know new types of the creamy good stuff over the past few years.  In fact, I have been banned from buying anymore until one runs out.  It’s a strict “one in, one out” policy over here.

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If you’ve never made your own nut butters before I am begging you to give it a try.  The first time I made this, I had a crappy dated old Oster blender (I have since updated- thanks to my wonderful man).  No fancy Vitamix or Blendtec.  I was worried that I was going to burn up the motor or blow the fuse in the kitchen or explode the whole apartment complex. How very fatalistic of me. But it worked!  Ohhhh boy did it work.

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Cashews are one of the softer varieties of nuts so they’re a great place to start when exploring homemade nut butters.  When you start to blend, you’ll first get a flour or gritty type consistency, then a thick paste (see above photo).  After a few minutes, the heat from the blender will cause the oils from the nuts to release and then things really get going.  During the whole process, you may have to stop and scrape the sides a few times to be sure you’re getting all the little chunks.  Once the mixture is glossy and drippy, you’re done!  Now stick that spoon in there and give the fresh, warm stuff a taste.  Amazing, right?!

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Some folks recommend soaking and then dehydrating your nuts before using them to enhance the health benefits of these mighty snacks.  Basically, there are naturally-occuring chemicals in all (even organic!) nuts that inhibit the absorption of some vitamins.  Personally, I skip it because I’m lazy of time but if you want to learn more on why or how to soak, Beth over at Tasty Yummies has a great page.

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Give homemade nut butter a try! It makes a great snack, treat, oatmeal topping, smoothie addition, or even a thoughtful homemade gift in a jar!

Coconut Cashew Butter

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: About 8 ounces, 16 servings

Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon

There's just nothing like homemade coconut cashew butter. The consistency is dreamy and the salt pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the coconut. Enjoy this as a small indulgence!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. (Toasting nuts is optional but recommended for flavor)
  2. Spread cashews out on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes until just golden brown. Watch very carefully and toss frequently to prevent burning. Allow to cool completely.
  3. Add cooled cashews and coconut to blender or food processor and pulse to combine.
  4. Begin processing nuts at high speed for 1-2 minutes until a thick paste forms.
  5. Scrape sides and continue to process until a shiny, creamy consistency is achieved, 5-15 minutes depending on blender/ food processor.
  6. Store in a jar in a cool, dry place for a few weeks or longer in the fridge. Enjoy!
http://www.areyoukitchenme.com/coconut-cashew-butter/

Chickpea Salad

Happy January everyone!  I know I’m a little late, we’ve already had a week of 2015,  a few inches of snow, and subzero temperatures…  Better late than never!  New Years gets a bad rap for the ubiquitous “new year, new me” posts all over social media and grocery stores and television ads, but it really is a great time to start fresh.  I have decided to commit to Veganuary and try the vegan lifestyle this month! It’s not too late for you to commit too!  Veganuary’s site has a ton of awesome resources and great reasons to go vegan.  Whether you are vegan, have been thinking about trying it, want to lose a little weight this year, or enjoy a steak every evening, I think you’ll love this Chickpea Salad.

Slide the bar in the picture above and check out how easy it is to take chickpeas from round legumes to a flaky base ready for a creamy, dreamy dressing!

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I wanted to call this “Chickless Salad” but I couldn’t bring myself to succumb to the cheesy vegan misnomer.  This isn’t chicken salad.  It’s not egg salad. It’s not tuna salad.  It is delicious.  Basically, I took your average everyday chicken salad dressing and subbed in chickpeas.  I expected to like this recipe and take it for lunch this week. I expected it to be a silly vegan idea to try for fun. I didn’t expect to eat almost the entire batch in one day.  So much for new year, new me…. This was soooo good.  Like delicious, I’m going to make it every week, I’ll eat this way past January good.  I love the crunch of the fresh veggies in contrast to the creamy dressing.  Maybe it’s because I haven’t had chicken salad in 15 years or so, but is this what lunch dreams are made of?  I’m thinking yes.

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If you aren’t vegan and don’t want to buy a separate vegan mayo, just use regular!  Or try subbing in a super creamy hummus.  I use Veganaise but am also a fan of the Hampton Creek Just Mayo brand, both can be found in almost any grocery store.  Seriously, vegan or not this is SO yummy you have to give it a try!  It’s a light, refreshing crunch to wake up the cold month lunch monotony.  It’s great on a sandwich, in a wrap, topping a mixed green salad, or straight from the bowl with a spoon if you have no self control like me.  Enjoy! Stay warm friends!

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Chickpea Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

This plant-based chickpea salad is reminiscent of a classic chicken or egg salad with a healthy twist! Perfect for lunches or a snack, this recipe is a snap to make and so refreshing!

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbs vegan mayo (or regular mayo or hummus)
  • 2 tsp tahini (sesame paste)
  • 2 tsp stone-ground mustard
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 small carrot, peeled
  • 3 green onions, white and light parts only
  • 1 Tbs chopped fresh dill
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Add chickpeas to a mixing bowl and mash with a fork until flaky.
  2. Cut celery and carrot into long strips then chop very fine. Thinly slice green onions.
  3. Add veggies, mayo, tahini, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, and dill to bowl and mix lightly.
  4. Taste mixture, add salt and pepper, and stir. Do not over mix.
http://www.areyoukitchenme.com/chickpea-salad/