Saturday, April 10

Nuttin’ Better

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Nuts add flavor and nutrition to a wide variety of dishes

We know what one of your resolutions is … it’s our resolution, too! One key to success when striving to improve health is to be reasonable. For instance, dietary fat is a necessary component of good health. The trick is to incorporate fats that bring other nutrients and flavors with them, which makes the most of your calories and keeps taste buds satisfied. Nut butters are a great go-to for flavor, flexibility and nutrition. Start this new year with some of these dishes, and you might have to come up with a different resolution next year!

Almond Noodles
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound thin spaghetti
  • ⅓ cup almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  • ⅓ cup slivered almonds
  • 1 (2-ounce) jar pimiento peppers, drained
  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions.
Instructions
  1. Meanwhile, place the almond butter, soy sauce, lime juice, water, oil, maple syrup, vinegar, hot sauce, garlic and ginger in a blender and blend for 30 seconds until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Drain the pasta into a serving bowl and add a little more than half of the dressing. Toss to evenly coat and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the onions, cilantro, almonds and peppers. Toss and add the remaining dressing. Toss again and serve warm.
Nut Butter Salad Dressing
 
Light but delicious and great with any green salad that includes apples
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons nut butter (any flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Place the yogurt, nut butter, lime juice and salt in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake to emulsify, and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.
Flourless Almond Butter Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two cookie sheets and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the almond butter and sugar at medium speed about 2 minutes. Add the egg and baking soda and mix until well combined. Roll teaspoons of dough into balls and arrange 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Slightly flatten with the greased bottom of a glass to make 1½-inch rounds.
  3. Bake in batches in the center of the oven for 10 minutes per batch or until puffed and light golden brown. Cool on the cookie sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Coconut Butter Bars
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup coconut butter*
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • Powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a jellyroll pan and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the coconut butter and beat until well combined, then add the egg, extract and salt. Add the flour a half-cup at a time, then the coconut.
  3. Spread evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.
Chocolate Butter Kisses
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup coconut butter
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Place the coconut butter, butter, oil, cocoa and sugar in a food processor and process until smooth. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spoon 1-inch dollops onto the sheet. Refrigerate until solid, then serve or transfer to a shallow covered container and keep refrigerated.
Coconut Pops
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup coconut butter
  • ¼ cup almond or cashew butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup coconut Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate syrup
  • Toasted shredded coconut
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the coconut butter, almond butter, honey, extract and salt. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the yogurt until well blended. Evenly divide the chocolate syrup among 6 small paper drinking cups, then top with the butter mixture, filling two-thirds full. Place in the freezer for at least 1 hour and add popsicle sticks in the center. Continue to freeze for 4 hours or until solid. To serve, peel off the cup and roll in toasted coconut. Serve immediately.
Nut Stuffed Dates
 
Ingredients
  • 12 whole dates
  • ¼ cup cashew butter*
  • 24 whole cashews*
  • 2 tablespoons shredded toasted coconut
Instructions
  1. Cut each date in half lengthwise and remove the seeds (unless already pitted). Fill each half with cashew butter and place on a serving dish. Put a whole cashew on top of each filled date and sprinkle with the coconut. Refrigerate or serve immediately.
  2. Substitute walnut butter for cashew butter and use walnut halves for whole cashews.
  3. Substitute pistachio butter for cashew butter and use whole pistachios for whole cashews.

NUT BUTTER TIPS:

Nut butters can be substituted in equal amounts in any recipe calling for peanut butter.

Storage is best at room temperature in a pantry if you are going to use it within a month after opening. Otherwise, store the opened jar in the refrigerator to prevent it from going rancid.

Natural nut butters will separate with an oily layer on the top of the jar. This is natural because the oil has not been processed to make it solid (hydrogenation). All it needs is stirring to incorporate the ingredients back together. Make sure and stir it completely or you will have a dry, nearly crumbly butter at the bottom of the jar.

To make the stirring process easier, store the container upside down in your pantry. Then when opened, use a dull-tipped table knife to incorporate the oil back into the butter.


Ask Chef Tammy

Email your cooking questions to Tammy Algood: talgood@tnelectric.org.


Joan asks:
“I need your help! I have a recipe for salsa that calls for guera, and I am not sure what this is. The recipe was passed on to me from my mother-in-law, and I want to get it right. I enjoy your column very much.”

Joan, I believe the correct spelling of the ingredient you have listed is guero, which is a yellow chile pepper. It is frequently used as a generic term for any type of yellow chile pepper. Select either Santa Fe Grande or Hungarian wax for the recipe.


Nichole writes: “
I am engaged to be married and am in the process of selecting items for my gift registry. Can you please guide me on what to look for in a good kitchen knife?”

Nichole, congratulations! And selecting the proper knife will be an investment in your culinary future. First of all, you will want to hold the potential knife you select to feel the weight and make sure it is properly balanced. I like forged knives versus those that are stamped. Forged are sturdier and will last longer because the steel goes all the way to the end of the handle. The knife bolster is the area that transitions from the handle to the blade. It helps provide strength and increases durability and counterbalance. You really only need three good knives to accomplish most every kitchen task: A chef’s knife, serrated knife and paring knife. Get them professionally sharpened, and only wash them by hand. I like both J.A. Henckels and Wusthof brands.

*Variation: Substitute cashew butter for the coconut butter. Before placing in the oven to bake, top with ½ cup chopped salted, roasted cashews. Press gently into the batter so they adhere. Omit the powdered sugar.

*Variations: Substitute almond butter for cashew butter and use whole almonds for whole cashews.

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About Author

Tammy Algood develops for The Tennessee Magazine recipes that feature farm-fresh Tennessee food. Those fresh, local ingredients will always add cleaner, more flavorful foods to your table. We recommend visiting local farms and farmers markets to find the freshest seasonal produce. For more information about our recipes, contact Algood at talgood@tnelectric.org.

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