Archive for ‘snack’

September 14, 2011

Soaking Nuts

Yes, this title made me laugh too . . . but there’s really no better description for what I have to share with you.  My mother-in-law had a mason jar full of walnuts sitting on her breakfast table.  I have a great affinity for walnuts, so I took a few.  After eating the first nut, I was confused.  This walnut was different.  It didn’t leave a gritty feeling on my teeth and tongue.  Just the slightest taste of being roasted.  A hint of salt.  Then she revealed her secret … she had soaked the nuts!  Now I love them even more.

For those of you who have never heard of this or don’t understand why one would do this, let me enlighten you. Nuts have a little thing called phytic acid on their outer layer. Phytic acid can combine with minerals in the intestinal tract and prevent the body from absorbing them. Soaking helps reduce or eliminate the phytic acid on the outer layer. Nuts can also be an enzyme inhibitor … meaning your digestive and metabolic enzymes may be prevented from working properly. Soaking also reduces these enzyme enemies in nuts. Overall, soaking aids your body in digesting nuts and getting the full benefit that nuts offer. More vitamins and minerals, less acids and inhibitors. Plus, it’s really simple and they taste amazing!

Gather your nuts … I chose walnuts, pecans, and almonds. Mmmmm. It doesn’t really matter how much you do at once, but take into consideration that you will need oven and pan space to spread these puppies out when they go in for their drying session. I probably did a few too many, but I dried them in cycles.

The first step is to soak them overnight in water, at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Make sure they are completely covered in water the entire time.  Add 1 tsp. of salt for every 1/2 gallon of water.

After soaking, you will see how murky the water gets.  Drain off the water and rinse the nuts.

Then lay out the nuts on paper towels to pat dry.

Some of the almonds lost their coating altogether after soaking. 

After hand drying some, spread the nuts onto a cookie sheet and place in the oven at the lowest temperature that your oven will go.  For me, that was 175.  Take time to stir them every 4 hours or so.  The nuts will take varying amounts of time to dry out.  It also depends on how crowded your pan is … for me, the walnuts were done first, which I soaked the least of.  Then the pecans, and lastly the almonds. 

The only way easiest way to know if they’re done is to try one.  When they’re crunchy again, they’re done.  Be careful to keep from overbaking them.  Then place them in a container for easy munching access!

February 16, 2011

Almond Butter

It’s hard to imagine my kitchen without a food processor.  Well, I can… but I don’t want to.  I’ve had mine for over 5 years now, and it’s still kicking like the day I got it.  It’s such an amazing gadget to have on hand for liquefying soups, making hot sauce, chopping nuts, grating carrots and zucchini, and puréeing just about anything. When I discovered almond and walnut butter in Austin (and how expensive it is), I realized I could make my own.. with my processor.

Not only is it much cheaper to make your own, but you can also control the amount of salt in the nut butter and add any extra spices your heart desires. For this batch, I chose cinnamon.  I love cinnamon.  Especially high oil cinnamon.  For those of you who live in DFW, a great place to find it, along with a bundle of other spices and seasonings, is Pendery’s.  It pretty much rocked my world.  They have all kinds of salts, meat rubs, chilis … you name it.  You have to try the jalepeño salt too.. Just a dab will do ya. But for today, almond butter.

:: You will need ::

3 cups whole almonds, raw and unsalted

1 tbsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. fine salt

2 tbsp. olive oil

:: Let’s get going ::

(1) Pour the almonds in the food processor.  Purée the almonds for about 1 minute, or until the mixture stops spinning in the processor.

(2) You will know it is puréed fine enough when the mixture begins to creep up the side of the bowl.

(3) Add the cinnamon and salt into the processor and put the lid back on.  Turn the processor on and add the olive oil through the removable top compartment.

If the mixture hasn’t come together enough after 2 tbsp., feel free to add a little more until it looks like this.

(4) Be sure to refrigerate after putting it into a sealed container.  The almond butter will keep up to 2 months.

Printable version.
Printable version with picture