It’s a usual practice at our home when having people over to first ask about their dietary preferences.Trying out various diets is rather common in the grown up world but it came as a complete surprise to me when my kids talked of one of their friends who has been vegan for almost 2 years.
It’s not easy being a vegan teenager. Not with all the cheesy pizzas and humongous burgers that kids tend to devour at that age. Giving up all animal products is not easy especially when foods like ice cream,jelly and honey also fall into that category. It’s even more admirable that he’s the only vegan in is family. He sticks to his commitment because he feels it made a whole lot of difference to his health.His parents are a great support by sourcing vegan treats whenever possible.
Recently he asked if there were some yummy vegan alternatives that could be whipped up at home and I thought what about nut butters?! Most children and adults love spreads and dips.That’s one way to get in a large dose of daily nutritive requirements in just a single teaspoon.While I’ve only ever made peanut and walnut butter at home,I often add a variety of nuts to my pesto and chutneys.
Nut butters are high in protein, taste delicious and are extremely filling. What I like about these nut butters is that you can vary the taste from sweet or savoury by adding or deleting the flavor ingredients. It’s never boring and comes in very handy during the hungry exam binges or just as an in between snack. A quick look at my larder made me glad that I had stocked up on organic nuts. Out came the walnuts,almonds and cashews. Another nut that we’re fond of are pistachios.So I bought a 100 gms of that as well to begin my nut butter try outs.A friend of mine who lives abroad absolutely loves coconut butter.Since her recipe seemed fairly simple not to mention that it’s a native ingredient,I added that to my list too.
To make a nut butter it’s essential to first roast the nuts lightly in a slow oven or in a dry pan. This is to draw out those natural oils . Once cooled , the nuts must be first blitzed in a heavy duty food processor or blender. In order to give it that rich buttery consistency some sort of oil is usually required.Refined oil is a definite no no here. Cold pressed oils are the best because of their high nutrition content and flavour.The type of oil will obviously differ based on the nut used.I like to use walnut oil with the walnuts as it enhances the taste perfectly.In the event of non-availability I use the best Extra virgin olive oil that is available. A chilli walnut butter is just as delicious as a honey and cinnamon walnut butter.The savoury butter is great on crackers or on bread with some crunchy lettuce.The sweet walnut butter is great with grilled bananas.
Cashew nut butter is by far the most unctuous of all nut butters that I’ve made.There are various schools of thought that go towards making the best cashew butter.One is to soak raw cashews for about 6- 8 hours and dehydrate them before blending.The other is to dry roast and cool before blending.I like to choose the latter simply because it’s what works best for me.With cashew nuts a buttery spread is achievable even without the addition of any other oil,it just needs patience with the blender.It goes from powder to doughy to creamy and glossy in a few minutes. My Panasonic blender works like a charm in blending the nutty bits in no time.One whiff of that buttery concoction and I wished I had some strawberries and melted chocolate on hand to make it a sinful meal.
These butters can also be used as a marinade or to toss into hot fusilli. I love it when the ridges of the cork screw pasta glisten with fine bits of nut paste.The almond butter is delicious for grilling mushrooms with some garlic and thyme. That aroma when it hits the pan just transports you to a country Italian kitchen ! Oh i just love it !!! The one thing that my South Indian palate finds hard to accept is the coconut butter but I’m not giving up on it just yet. There is a huge conflict going on in my grey cells that goes something like this… chutney ? no ! butter ! … butter?? No !!! Chutney ! … if you are South Indian you will know what exactly I mean
Our local stores do carry pecans and hazelnuts which can easily be made into butters to go with pancakes or to accompany a warm apple crumble.These home-made,preservative free jars of vegan deliciousness definitely have my vote !
This one is in honour of the vegan teenager who has created quite an impression by not deviating from his chosen food path ! My best to him.