Thursday, August 21, 2014

Nuts for Seeds: Homemade Paleo Nut and Seed Butters

Let me first start off this post by saying that I love nut (and seed) butters.  When I was little, my mother never had candy in the house.  However, if my brothers and I were going to an event where it would be present, she always told us to bring her back a peanut butter Reese's cup.  I never really understood this request, until my taste buds changed and I developed her same "obsession."  At one point in my life, I literally ate a peanut butter and banana sandwich every day at lunch time, for about two weeks straight. 
 Funny thing is, peanuts are not even a nut at all, but a legume, hence the combination of  "pea" and "nut."  One reason that legumes are not promoted on the paleo diet is that they are not considered a nutrient dense food, and have some side effects that may be harmful to certain individuals.  If you suffer from a stressed or leaky gut, legumes are not only a big FODMAP, but they also contain high amounts of phytic acid and lectins, both which can be harmful to the body through binding minerals, disturbing digestion enzymes, and attacking the intestinal wall.  Other foods high in these same properties are grains, soy, dairy products, nightshades (peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant etc..) and processed, GMO foods.  That being said, nuts and seeds also have a relatively moderate amount of these aspects.  However, as Mark Sisson points out in his article, you do not go around eating a plate of nuts and a side salad of seeds.  When eating nuts, it is usually in the form of trail mix or nut butter, both of which naturally satisfy the body quickly, leading you to eat in moderation. 
Though I follow a mostly "autoimmune paleo diet," which excludes all nuts, seeds, eggs, cocoa, nightshades etc, as a way to minimize my pain and inflammation, the PK Protocol is supported through a ketogenic way of eating. This means carbohydrate intake must be incredibly low, while fat extremely high, making my diet even more restricted (no bowls of roasted sweet potatoes for me).  That being said, getting extra fat in is incredibly important for my healing, making nut and seed butters a must.  Though eating a handful of nuts wreaks havoc on my stomach, having them pre-broken down into butter form seems to make them somewhat more tolerable.  In the end, though they do have inflammatory factors that could weaken a body as sick as mine, eating them in small amounts ultimately helps my IV infusions do their job.  

A few favorites
If you go to the store to purchase any nut and (or) seed butters, you will notice that they are a bit pricey.  Though some are delicious and quite worth the money spent, some end up being pungent, dry, and a total waste.  This is where owning a food processor can be extremely helpful.  Buying nuts in bulk to make homemade nut butters can not only save you half the cost, but allows you to adjust the flavor and texture to your liking.  Below I have included a step by step recipe of how I make a simple almond butter.  However, these steps can practically be done with any nut or seed of your liking.  Eliminating the roasting process to create raw "butters" is even easier, however, realize the finished product's flavor will be distinctly different.   Though it may seem like the nuts and (or) seeds will never turn into the smooth confection that you buy in stores, I promise that eventually it will.  Just as a watched pot never boils, having patience while the natural oils of the nuts break down is key.  In the end, making anything homemade has its great deal of perks.  After experimenting with different spices, oils, nuts, seeds, and sweeteners, you may never pick up a jar from the store shelf again!
The recipe below is for my basic almond butter, with the other variations I make for myself further down.  Almond butter is the only nut butter that I use roasted nuts, but truly you can roast any nut or seed. Though the ingredients may vary from recipe to recipe, the process is relatively the same for every flavor. 

Homemade almond butter

Maple Roasted Almond Butter
Print Recipe
  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Oven
  • Baking sheet
  • Food Processor * I use a Cuisinart 
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Place almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer.
  • Once oven is hot, place sheet into oven and roast 12-14 minutes. *Watch your nuts carefully, or you will end up with a burnt taste in the finished product.
  • Once almonds are done roasting, transfer them into the food processor fitted with the "S" blade, and allow to run for 8 minutes. *The first 5 minutes, the almonds will turn into a grainy meal that climbs the sides of your food processor. There is no need to scrape down the sides, as the mixture will fall on its own. *At the 5 minute mark, your almond butter will start clumping together. Again, continue to let the machine run. 
  • After the 8-10 minute mark, your almond butter should be becoming pretty smooth.
  • Turn of food processor, scrape down the sides as needed, and run for 30 more seconds, allowing the crumbs to mix in. 
  • With the processor off, add maple syrup and salt, and then run for another 9 minutes. *Your almond butter may become grainy again due to the maple syrup being colder than the almond mixture.  However, this will go away after at the least 5 minutes. 
  • Turn off once more, scrape down the sides, and let then turn the processor on again for a couple more minutes, until everything is smooth and incorporated. *If your butter is not as smooth as you would like, add 3 tbsp of any neutral tasting oil.  I used unrefined, organic sunflower oil. 
  • Scoop into a 12 oz mason jar and store in fridge.

Recipe variations and flavors

Vanilla Cardamom Hazelnut Butter
Print Recipe
  • 2 cups raw hazelnuts
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp sweetener of choice (coconut sugar, maple syrup, chicory root, etc..)
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 cup hazelnut oil 

Cinnamon Cashew Butter
  • 2 cups raw cashews 
  • 2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup MCT oil (or any other neutral tasting oil-allows butter to become very smooth)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (optional)

Salted Pecan Butter
Print Recipe
  • 2 cups raw pecans
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar (optional)
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp salt
  • 2-3 tsp cinnamon (for my "Pecan Pie" variation) 
  • 1/4 cup coconut or MCT oil (optional-allows butter to become very smooth) 

Hemp Seed Butter
Print Recipe
  • 2 cups raw hemp seeds
  • 3-4 tbsp sweetener (I used chicory) 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup walnut oil (or any other neutral oil) 
*Relatively the same for any nut or seed butter.
**If roasting, follow above instructions for the maple almond butter 
  • Add chosen nuts or seeds to a food processor and let run for 5-10 minutes until grainy and broken down.
  • Scrape down the sides, add sweetener, salt, and spices if using, and turn processor on once more, letting run until ingredients are incorporated.
  • With the food processor running, slowly pour the 1/4 cup of oil through the top hole until the nut and (or) seed butter has become silky and smooth. 
  • Scoop out with a spatula and store in a 12 oz mason jar in the fridge. 

Mark 10:45 "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."


  1. I used to love PB so these are great substitutes and I love all the different variations! :)

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