On an earlier post, I mentioned creating a nut butter to use in the chili! I have been so surprised to discover how easy it is to create my own nut butter at home – especially with recalls of contaminated peanut products. And the best part – I can add anything I want to develop fun flavors – maple syrup, cinnamon, chocolate, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, and more!
Have you made a nut butter at home? It is a simple as tossing some nuts in a food processor and letting it go! You may need to give it a rest and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula, before starting it up again – but simple and without any added fats or ingredients! At first it will form a dust, but scrape down the sides and let it continue processing. Do not add any liquids. Eventually it will begin to clump, let it keep running! Allow it to reach your desired consistency!
Try roasting the nuts a bit before to give it a little added flavor. Or use a smoked nut – like smoked almonds in the chili. To roast nuts, place them on a sheet pan in the oven at 350 degrees, for ~12 minutes, stirring frequently.
Did you know, research has shown that nuts – a wide variety – are correlated to improved health? The high quantity of phytosterols in most tree nuts, is what most like contributes to their cholesterol-lowering effect. On a different note, research has shown the protective benefits of frequent nut consumption on gallstone diseases in both sexes. And despite nuts being high in calories, “With respect to clinical studies, the evidence is nearly uniform that [nuts] inclusion in the diet leads to little or no weight gain…Moreover, adherence to a moderate-fat weight loss diet vs. a low-fat weight loss diet in free-living subjects is better and the nutrient profile of the moderate-fat diet is superior.”(Mattes, RD, Kris-Etherton, PM, Foster, GD. Impact of Peanuts and Tree Nuts on Body Weight and Healthy Weight Loss in Adults. J Nutr, 138: 1741S-1745S, 2008.)
Here is an additional recipe that includes nuts and could be an excellent appetizer for a Thanksgiving or holiday party.
Walnut-Sage Pesto & Roasted Squash Bruschetta
¼ Cup Sage, fresh
2 Tbsp Parsley, Italian, fresh
1 Ea Garlic clove, fresh, minced
½ Cup Walnuts, toasted
1 tsp Lemon zest
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice, fresh
¼ Cup Olive oil
¼ Cup Mushroom Broth
1 Cup Sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 Cup Butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 Tbsp Olive oil
12 Each Baguette Slices, toasted
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Gently toss the 2 Tbsp of olive oil with the sweet potato and butternut squash. Spread evenly in a single layer on a sheet pan and place in the hot oven for 30-40 minutes until evenly roasted, turning potatoes over after 10 minutes.
In a food processor, place the sage, parsley, garlic, walnuts, lemon zest and lemon juice, and pulse a few times. Then, when the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in the remaining olive oil and mushroom broth until it comes to a consistency you are pleased with. Season with salt and pepper as you desire.
Once the potato/squash blend is finish roasting, assemble the bruschetta. Take one slice of toasted baguette, spread a teaspoon (or more) of the pesto on the baguette and top with the roasted potato/squash blend.
Enjoy! If you prefer, you could add a small quantity of the Daiya mozzarella cheese to the top for an additional flavor and creaminess!