What does activating nuts mean?
Nuts naturally contain substances known as enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid that prevents them from spontaneously germinating. These substances make the nuts harder to digest and their nutrients less available to us. Activating nuts simply refers to the process of soaking nuts in salty water to help remove this phytic acid before drying them out again (in a dehydrator or oven). There is a lot of information online if you are interested. This is just a way to take nuts to the next level nutritionally to get their maximum benefit, however if you are including nuts in your diet, we think that is a pretty good start!
Nut butters are a favourite with all ages and so versatile. Most kids love peanut butter, although there seem to be many more children with peanut allergies these days so we will show you how to use other nuts or to avoid nuts altogether and use seeds to make butters. It's so simple and quick to make your own nutritious and wholefood nut butters that can be spread on toast, dropped into smoothies or just spooned from the jar onto a fresh banana for a quick snack.
Why bother making your own?
- Shop purchased nut butters are typically limited to peanut or almond although a wider variety of flavours are slowly appearing as demand increases. If you read the list of ingredients, you will discover some brands may contain additional oils, sugar, preservatives or more salt then you like.
- These days many bulk food stores offer freshly ground nut butters, but you are limited to a few choices of nuts, usually a single flavour, and with different flavours only available on different days of the week to avoid cross contamination. By making your own you can use any combination of nuts you like and you can pre-roast them to improve the flavour.
We find making nut butters in a thermomix is fastest but you can also use any food processor. The process might just take a little longer. A high speed blender works as well but be careful not to overload the motor like we did by putting in too much! A Nutribullet or similar will also work but maybe reduce the quantity.
Recipe and Process
Ingredients: 500g raw almonds and 1 tsp salt (less if you prefer)
- ROAST the almonds at 170 C for 10-15 minutes. The longer that you roast for, the darker and more intensely flavoured the butter will be but take care not to let the nuts burn
- The heating process liberates the natural oils in the nuts and makes them easier to grind. While the nuts are still warm, transfer them to a food processor/thermomix
- PROCESS until smooth, scraping down the sides as required
- When your nut butter is at the desired consistency, transfer it to a glass jar
- We store our nut butter in the pantry in the cooler months but is best kept in the fridge over the warmer months or for longer term storage.
If you don’t like the taste or texture of certain nuts, experiment with alternatives to almonds. You can substitute any nuts you like in this recipe, or even use a combination of your favourite nuts. You can also vary the texture, for example, if you like chunkier nut butters, you can remove some of the mix during processing and fold it back in at the end when the remainder of the mix is smoother.
If someone in your family has a nut allergy, you can also make tasty seed buttersusing exactly the same process. Oven roast approximately 2 cups of seeds for 10 -15 minutes. The actual weight actual isn’t critical and will vary depending on the seeds you choose. You can use one particular seed or a combination of seeds (sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds are a great choice to start with). Watch them carefully as they can burn quite quickly. Follow the base recipe above for almond nut butter and near the end of processing add 1 teaspoon of salt or less to taste.
How to use nut butters
- Spread on bread, toast or crackers
- Mix into smoothie bowls or in smoothies
- Jess’s favourite is to heap almond butter onto a banana for a quick snack on the run
- Mix into bliss balls or slices
- Dollop into curries
Most people think of nut butters as sweet but you can also make them a savoury treat to have on crackers (or under some smashed avo on toast - delicious) by the addition of spices, herbs, toasted nori or nutritional yeast for a delicious umami flavour.
- Buy your nuts in bulk, from a shop that has a high turnover so you know they are fresh
- Buy organic where possible as pesticides and toxins accumulate in high fat foods like nuts
- Storage - we keep small quantities of nuts in glass jars in the pantry for everyday use and store the rest in the freezer to maintain freshness
- Due to their high fat content, nuts are very prone to going rancid, especially in warmer weather