Monday, August 8, 2011

Magical Salted Maple Almond Butter Spread

mmm.... Magical Mystery Spread. 
Standard peanut butter racks in at 200 calories for every two tablespoons. Almond butter, though healthier and much more nutritionally dense, still hits around 190 calories for every two tablespoons. What about Magical Salted Maple Almond Butter Spread, you ask? Oh, it's 60 calories for two tablespoons. Go ahead and double the serving size, and you're still 80 calories below peanut butter and well below the fat content. But how? The secret is simple.. it's xanthan gum.

What the deuce is that? Well, it's a high molecular weight polysaccharide vegan, gluten-free thickener and stabilizer in food. Xanthan gum is found frequently in sauces salad dressings to achieve a creamy consistency without the calories, ice cream to keep it soft in the freezer, and in gluten free baking to achieve a texture otherwise only possible with gluten. It's completely natural, and it's available at the grocery store. Bob's Red Mill sells the variety I use, and though ten dollars for a package of thickener may seem steep, at 1/8 tsp per recipe, I get the feeling it's going to last a long, long time.



After discovering the power of xanthan gum, I created an addictively creamy, sweet and salty nut spread that you can eat more than two tablespoons of without feeling bad... and with its versatility, you're going to want to. Add a dollop to oatmeal. Top ice cream with it. Spread it on toast, crackers, apples, bananas, or celery. Blend it into a milkshake. Use it as a glaze for muffins. Put it in chocolate chip cookies. Eat it with a spoon. Enjoy.

Magical Salted Maple Almond Butter Spread:
- 1/2 C almond butter
- 1/2 C warm water
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 C maple syrup
- 1/8 tsp xanthan gum
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Start with basic almond butter: use either organic store-bought or...

Make homemade nut butter! If starting with raw almonds, toast 2 cups of nuts in the oven on 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Once almonds are roasted, blend in a food processor until smooth and creamy (you may want to add 1 tbsp almond or coconut oil to help blend), then set aside 1/2 C almond butter and store the remaining butter in the refrigerator. 

In a food processor, combine almond butter, water, salt, and maple syrup until smooth. Sprinkle in xanthan gum and blend again. Add vanilla and cinnamon, pulse a few times, then pour spread into a mason jar. Store in the refrigerator and use within two weeks. 

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