Toasted Oats with Cinnamon Almond Butter

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Are you sick of winter? Our winter here in NC has been pretty mild, but that point from late January to late February is a big ol’ grumpy time for me. Much of the northeast is seeing record snowfall, and for me at least, that means oatmeal. Not those dusty packets of super sweet instant oats, but rich, hearty toasted oats. Toasted oats? Yes, indeed!

Sometimes I read foodie articles and marvel at my own lack of creativity or insight. I read an article recently that revolutionized my oatmeal making, and I kept thinking, “why didn’t this occur to me?”. The article asked why, when we toast rice and other grains prior to cooking, we don’t ever toast our steel cut oats before making oatmeal. Toasting brings out wonderful flavor in nuts and grains–what would risotto be if we didn’t toast the arborio rice prior to adding the stock? I know right?

I decided a dark, cold, rainy morning was a good time to experiment with this technique. I don’t think I will ever make oatmeal another way again. Oh. My. Goodness. Toasting the steel cut oats gives the oatmeal an amazing depth of flavor and a wonderful nuttiness. And since grumpy winter mornings call for going a little over the top with our breakfast, I added some cinnamon and almond butter to the oatmeal for a protein-packed, super healthy start to the day. This is crazy delicious. I want to eat this all the time.

So go ahead, toast your oats! Let me know what you think. I think you will never look at oatmeal the same way again!

Toasted Oats with Cinnamon Almond Butter (makes 4 servings)

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter per serving
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • Pinch of kosher or sea salt
  1. In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted and just foamy.
  2. Add the oats and stir well. Continue to cook the oats, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. The oats should darken slightly and give off a wonderful, nutty aroma.
  3. Add the water and continue cooking and stirring for about 30 minutes or until the oatmeal is to your desired consistency (I like mine very thick, so I cooked it for 40 minutes).
  4. Plate the oatmeal in serving bowls or mugs. Add one tablespoon of almond butter, a little pinch of salt, and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.
  5. Stir and serve immediately.

NOTE: You can freeze the oatmeal in greased muffin tins, giving you servings ready to heat in the morning. Also, this oatmeal will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

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Toasted Oats with Cinnamon Almond Butter

20140130-090322.jpg

Sometimes I read foodie articles and marvel at my own lack of creativity or insight. I read an article recently that revolutionized my oatmeal making, and I kept thinking, “why didn’t this occur to me?”. The article asked why, when we toast rice and other grains prior to cooking, we don’t ever toast our oats before making oatmeal. Toasting brings out wonderful flavor in nuts and grains–what would risotto be if we didn’t toast the arborio rice prior to adding the stock? I know right?

So since we have had three snow days in a row (rare here in North Carolina), I decided a lazy morning was a good time to experiment with this technique. I don’t think I will ever make oatmeal another way again. Oh. My. Goodness. Toasting the steel cut oats gives the oatmeal an amazing depth of flavor and a wonderful nuttiness. And since snow days are mornings where we go a little over the top with our breakfast, I added some cinnamon and almond butter to the oatmeal for a protein-packed, super healthy start to the day. This is crazy delicious. I want to eat this all the time.

So go ahead, toast your oats! Let me know what you think. I think you will never look at oatmeal the same way again!

Toasted Oats with Cinnamon Almond Butter (makes 4 servings)

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter per serving
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • Pinch of kosheror sea salt
  1. In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted and just foamy.
  2. Add the oats and stir well. Continue to cook the oats, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. The oats should darken slightly and give off a wonderful, nutty aroma.
  3. Add the water and continue cooking and stirring for about 30 minutes or until the oatmeal is to your desired consistency (I like mine very thick, so I cooked it for 40 minutes).
  4. Plate the oatmeal in serving bowls or mugs. Add one tablespoon of almond butter, a little pinch of salt, and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.
  5. Stir and serve immediately.

NOTE: You can freeze the oatmeal in greased muffin tins, giving you servings ready to heat in the morning. Also, this oatmeal will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Almond Butter Stuffed Banana Muffins

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While working on the post for preserving nuts (see here), I made a lot of chocolate almond butter. I mean, really, a LOT. So I started looking for creative ways to use some of it in recipes (stuffed pancakes, anyone?). Earlier in the summer, we posted a recipe for Whole Wheat Linzer Muffins (almond muffins stuffed with raspberry jam) and that got me thinking–would using almond butter as stuffing work? Turns out, the answer is a delicious YES!

These muffins are satisfying and filling. I used a regular banana muffin recipe and filled the muffin cups with a tablespoon of batter. I topped that bit of batter with a small ball of chocolate almond butter, then filled the muffin cups the rest of the way. Very easy and, if you have a small helper with you, they could make the little balls of almond butter for you and get some real world application for their budding play dough skills!

Almond Butter Stuffed Banana Muffins (makes 12 muffins)

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose)
  • 3/4 cup organic coconut sugar (or organic cane sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 1 large farm egg
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup chocolate almond butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line the cups of a muffin pan with paper liners or oil. Set aside.
  3. Make 12-1″ balls from the almond butter and set aside.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix well.
  5. In a larger bowl, wisk together the bananas, sugar, egg and butter. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, fold in the dry ingredients and mix just until all the flour is moistened.
  6. Drop a tablespoon or so of batter into each muffin cup. Place one ball of almond butter into each muffin cup.
  7. Fill the cups with batter and bake for 15-18 minutes. Check for doneness using a toothpick. Tops should be browned and the toothpick should come out clean.
  8. Let cool in muffin cups for 10 minutes. Remove muffins to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  9. Muffins can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen in individual freezer bags for up to 6 months.

Tutorial Tuesday #7–Storing and Preserving Nuts

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If you are lucky enough to live in a region of the country (or world) that produces tree and ground nuts, you have cause to celebrate! Nuts are high in protein, fiber and nutrients and while some may pack a wallop of fat, that fat is typically good for you and your body (as long as you are not allergic!). Some nuts, like pine nuts, pecans and walnuts can go rancid quickly when stored, especially in warmer climates. So how do you make the most of your local nut harvest and save your harvest for the future? Here are some great ways to make the most of locally and/or sustainably produced nuts.

Freeze ‘Em!

Did you know you can freeze nuts for about a year? Put shelled nuts into freezer bags, label them with the date and tuck them into your freezer for later! No need to blanch them or do anything special–just pop them into bags! I do this with our local pecans all the time. Freezing them prevents that “off” taste when they’ve been sitting too long, and the ease of freezing them encourages me to stock up with new crop pecans when they are available at my farmer’s market.

Make Nut Butter

If you are fortunate to end up with, say, 10 pounds of local almonds (I WISH!), one way to keep them at the ready is to make your own nut butter. When I was a child, peanut butter was the only nut butter around, but now you can easily find cashew butter, almond butter, sunflower butter and more. Some are even flavored. Did you know it takes about 30 minutes to make your own healthy nut butter at home?

Here is how to do it:

Put 1-2 cups of nuts (I use raw nuts, but roasted will work, too) in a food processor. Process at high speed, giving your food processor a break every minute or two, for anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes or until the nuts release their oils and you have something that is spreadable. This will vary widely depending on the type of nut and how much oil it has in it. you will end up with something amazing. And healthy. And delicious. Add some nut oil to hazelnuts (they can be a bit dry) and salt, if you like. Sometimes I add a bit of coconut oil to nut butters that end up on the dry side. Nut butters are very forgiving–if you add too much of a flavoring, just add more nuts. Need more flavoring? Add more and blend again. Easy!

I don’t refrigerate my nut butters–they are gone quickly, and I find refrigerating them makes them difficult to spread. However, you can refrigerate or freeze most nut butters. You will probably eat them up long before they go bad, but refrigerated nut butters will keep for several months. Frozen nut butters for at least a year. The oil may separate during thawing, but just mix it all up and you’re good to go!

Need some inspiration? Here are some ideas I’ve seen (and several I have tried):

  • Choco-peanut butter (peanuts + raw cacao + touch of honey + pinch of salt)
  • Cinnamon Almond Butter (almonds + cinnamon)
  • Almond Joy (almonds + non-sulfured coconut + raw cacao)
  • Heathier Nutella (hazelnuts + touch of hazelnut oil + raw cacao + touch of maple syrup)
  • Maple Almond Butter (almonds + touch of maple syrup + bit of vanilla)
  • Smoked pecan butter [my creation] (pecans + smoked paprika + touch of salt)

So go out there and harvest those nuts! Then squirrel them away for the future 🙂

For more great nut butters and yummy ideas for using them, see www.mywholefoodlife.com. Another blogger with some awesome, healthy recipes!

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