No-Grain Pumpkin Blondie

We value our social media connection with our fans very much! It is where we have the privilege to get to know you and learn a little bit about your likes and dislikes. Recently, we noticed a trend of several people tagging pictures and using the hashtag “paleo diet.” Many of our recipes already fit into the paleo diet standards, but we wanted to build one  that especially follows the paleo way of living.

That required us to look more deeply the paleo diet. Let us clarify that we don’t believe this diet to be a good option for all people but understand some have chosen it and garnered  great results. We encourage each one of you to do your own research and determine if it is something that fits your health goals. In addition, it is always a good idea to discuss this diet with your doctors who know your medical history and may have individualized recommendations for you.

The paleo diet, nicknamed the caveman diet, attempts to mimic our ancient ancestor’s way of eating. The diet avoids foods that come from modern agriculture, such as wheat, dairy, legumes and rely instead on meals full of meat, nuts and vegetables. The concept became popular when Dr. Loren Cordain published a book, The Paleo Diet in 2001. The idea is to eliminate foods that may contain possible irritants to our gastrointestinal tract. There isn’t scientific research (that we know of at this point) that credits this diet for any health advantages over a balanced way of eating. However, as we stated before, we know it may work for some people. And as  long as they are monitored by their doctors regularly, and there are no adverse  effects, then going paleo  is a personal choice. Either way, we love to contribute with delicious recipes that will fit into paleo  plans!

The paleo diet excludes legumes, and since peanut is technically a legume, peanut butter is not included in their list of foods allowed. However, we have encountered some people who follow modified paleo diets that do include peanut butter. The other products we offer, including cashew, almond, tahini and sunflower seed butter are all paleo- friendly products.

Regardless of your food restrictions or dietary plans, this recipe is fantastic and worth a try! It is rich in protein, fiber and low in refined sugar. They make perfect treats for  before or after workout  fuel, and works really well as a weekend, treat too!

Paleo Pumpkin Blondie by Once Again Nut Butter

No-Grain Pumpkin Blondies – Paleo Friendly!

¼ cup of Once Again Organic Cashew Butter
½ cup of Once Again American Classic Creamy Peanut Butter (for paleo – just use 1 whole cup of Cashew Butter and exclude the Peanut Butter. Or use Almond butter instead!)
¼ cup of maple syrup
¾ cup of pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons of pecan flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of pumpkin spice
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray an 8×8 inches baking pan with non-stick spray. In medium bowl, mix in cashew butter, peanut butter, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and maple syrup. In separate bowl mix pecan flour pumpkin spice, cinnamon and baking soda. Mix in dry mixture and combine just until all ingredients form a homogenous dough. Place in baking pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until edges are golden. Insert toothpick in center to test for readiness  to remove blondies from oven. Let cool and slice to serve. Store in airtight container for up to five days.

Cauliflower and Pumpkin Au Gratin

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, part of the Brassicaceae family which also includes broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, collard greens and kale. Although it is in the same family as those vegetables listed, it has never gotten as much attention as the others, Many children describe its mild taste as “bland.”

However, it is time to give cauliflower another chance! The fact that it does not have a strong taste as kale or Brussel sprouts makes cauliflower the perfect vegetable to combine with potent flavors and highlight their qualities without negatively impacting their nutrient content. It is just  the opposite — cauliflower has a variety of vitamins and minerals to contribute to our diet.  I bet you didn’t know it is  a good source of vitamin C!  It has  B vitamins and vitamin K. While keeping a low calorie profile, a cup of cauliflower has only 25 calories but 2 whole grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein. This makes cauliflower a nutrient-dense food that can easily substitute potatoes or noodles in so many recipes.

This recipe was inspired by a healthy version of a mac-and-cheese  that called for pumpkin puree instead of cream and half of the amount of cheese. We took it up a notch to increase the nutrient content even more and cut out the noodles, using  cauliflower instead! It worked out better than the original recipe. It isn’t as much a mac-and-cheese recipe anymore, but rather, it is  something better! The secret weapon here is actually the Once Again Cashew Butter! When you start substituting ingredients, especially ones that decrease the overall fat content of a recipe, you may lose the  creamy texture that is so characteristic of the recipe. By adding Once Again Cashew butter, the nutrient content gets another boost in  plant protein, fiber and unsaturated fat (also vitamin E, K E, K, and B6, along with minerals like copper, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, iron and selenium, all of which are important for maintaining good bodily function).

Also note that the cauliflower was roasted for this recipe. There is a reason for this beyond just the better taste of roasting versus boiling. When you boil vegetables like cauliflower you may lose a significant percentage of their phytochemicals and some water soluble vitamins such as vitamin C. Therefore, whenever possible, choose to roast, grill or eat your veggies raw to better utilize their valuable nutrients.

This recipe was a huge success in our test kitchensn! Be prepared to add it to your favorites list, for sure! The creaminess, cheesy-rich  flavor, achieved without adding much cheese, is phenomenal. It can be the center piece of  your dinner or a side item at a holiday table. Whenever you choose to prepare and enjoy this recipe, remember to share it with us on our social media or here in our  comments section. Let us know what you thought about  the recipe! And if you make any modifications to better suit your dietary needs or tastes, share that, too. Our goal is to share recipes that work for you.  We want to better learn  your likes and dislikes, which will allow us to gear our creations to cater to  your taste buds.

Cauliflower and Pumpkin Au Grautin from Once Again Nut Butter Blog

Cauliflower and Pumpkin Au Gratin

1 medium cauliflower chopped into medium-sized pieces

1 cup of pumpkin puree

½ medium- sized onion chopped into medium-sized pieces

1 cup of vegetable broth

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons of Once Again Cashew Butter (or two squeeze packs)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Pinch of nutmeg

Start by tossing the chopped cauliflower and onions with olive oil until well coated, and spread the vegetables  on a baking sheet. Place it in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. In the meantime, in a medium sauce pan on medium heat in the stove top, add pumpkin and vegetable broth. Mix well then add in Once Again Cashew butter. Next add in ¾ of the cheese and a pinch of nutmeg, mix well and remove from heat. Once the cauliflower comes out of the oven, add it to the pumpkin mixture.  Pour all  into a baking dish, about 9×9 or larger, and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Place it back  in the oven for another 20 minutes. Enjoy as a side item or entrée!

Peanut Butter Carrot Cupcakes

Once Again Nut Butter manufactures  many products, as you know. Here is a fun fact: if you turn the jar around and read the label, at the upper corner, beside the nutrition facts, there is a little square that states which employee’s favorite that particular nut or seed butter is. For example, on the tahini jar, you’ll find that it is Matt’s (from shipping) favorite. I am relieved that I was never asked which one is my favorite. That would be quite difficult to answer, much like asking me which child do I love more! Perhaps, I exaggerate  a bit. But the truth is, when it comes to nut and seed butters, I seem to fluctuate between favorites throughout the year. Currently, my favorite has been good old, plain peanut butter, Once Again Organic Creamy Peanut Butter, to be more specific.

Almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts have gotten a lot of attention lately for their nutritive values, and that spotlight is well deserved, of course. However, that is no reason to forget about peanuts. This seemed like a great opportunity to highlight some reasons why you should have a jar of Once Again Peanut Butter in your pantry at all times, no matter what your particular favorite nut butter is at any particular  time. You may already be aware of the value of this super-popular nut,   since peanuts and peanut butter represent two thirds  of nut consumption in the United States.

Research has shown peanuts can prolong life, reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer and promote healthy weights in adults and children. Peanuts are a powerful, tiny food all on their own; therefore peanut butter needs no other ingredient other than peanuts themselves ! Once Again Nut Butter has a variety of peanut butters to offer, all with peanuts as the first ingredient, of course. As a matter of fact, you will find peanuts to be the only ingredient in our Organic Creamy or Crunchy Peanut Butter, as well as the Old Fashioned Natural Creamy or Crunchy Peanut Butter. There is a version with added salt for those who prefer it, and the American Classic line, which is the first certified organic peanut butter that doesn’t separate. Our American Classic is a stabilized peanut butter that requires little to no stirring. We do not use any hydrogenated oils, so you will get the texture you crave without harmful food additives. The ingredients in the American Classic line include dry roasted blanched organic peanuts, organic palm fruit oil from responsibly planned orchards, organic sugar cane and salt.  Choices abound.

So, what is it about peanuts that make them so good for us? Well, they are high in protein to start off. They contain more than 7 grams of plant protein per ounce, which is more than any other nut, and they contain at least as much protein as any animal source. One ounce of peanuts or two tablespoons of peanut butter contain 15% of the recommended daily value for protein making them a great protein staple for any plant-based diet. They also contain high amounts of important nutrients such as vitamin E, potassium and magnesium. Folate, zinc and vitamin B6 are also present in peanuts. Digging a little deeper into peanut nutrition, we find some other qualities to highlight. For example, we find arginine, an amino acid which helps reduce blood pressure.. Resveratrol has long been touted as an anti-aging compound, and it is also present in peanuts. Phytosterols block the formation of cholesterol in the body, and polyphenols, which work as antioxidants to help prevent damage in the body that can lead to heart disease and cancer, both are found in peanuts, as well.

The USDA underscores  peanuts and peanut butter as a “Smart Snack” on its nutritional lists for schools. . The lists also include popcorn, granola and fruit cups, among others.  However, peanuts are the only one on those lists with “zero empty calories.” Not only do they provide a good source of protein, they also contain high amounts of healthy, monounsaturated fat. It is actually this combination of nutrients that helps kids and adults feel satisfied, get a boost of energy and still maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Peanut butter is not just my favorite, as a matter of fact, The Peanut Institute states that 90% of American households have one or more jars of peanut butter in their pantry. So if you are among the majority, go  and grab your jar and have a spoon already! After reading this post, I would imagine  that you are craving some peanut butter. Better yet, let’s make something with peanut butter, something beyond the traditional and delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich. How about a Peanut Butter Carrot Cupcake?

img_5104

Peanut Butter Carrot Cupcakes

2 cups of oat flour

½ cup  of sugar

1 tablespoon of baking powder

1 cup of milk or milk substitute

1 cup of grated carrots

1 egg

1 teaspoon of vanilla

½ cup of Once Again Peanut Butter

To make your own oat flour, simply add whole oats to the food processor and pulse until you achieve a powdered mixture. Add the 2 cups of oat flour to a mixing bowl with baking soda. In a separate mixing bowl, add peanut butter, egg and mix well. Slowly add in sugar, vanilla and milk. Now add the oat flour mixture to the wet ingredient mixture, and mix well on low speed if using a mixer. Remove from mixer and fold in the grated carrots. Pour batter, filling each cupcake mold three quarters of the way.  This recipe will make about 12 cupcakes. Bake in an oven  a preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Allow cupcakes to cool before removing them from pan. You may top them  with  a cream cheese frosting —or just enjoy them plain! Optional: Add  ¼ cup of raisins and chopped walnuts to the batter before baking. Store  cupcakes  in air tight container for up to 5 days.

Sweet and Sour Gummy

Let us introduce to you the amazing powers of ginger. After reading this, you’ll never look at this root the same way again. Some of you may already be familiar with its digestive properties, but there is much more to ginger. This aromatic root usually sold in grocery stores in the produce isle can also be found dried and ground to a fine powder in the spice isle. The later variety is the one often used in baked goods such as the famous gingerbread cookies.

However, it is the fresh root that will yield the best results when considering  a digestive aid. In herbal medicine, ginger is known as a substance which promotes the elimination of intestinal gas and relaxes while soothing the intestinal tract. There are a few research studies that were able to show ginger as an effective treatment to prevent symptoms of motion sickness, and in fact at times being more effective than over-the-counter prescription medications. Ginger reduces all symptoms associated with motion sickness including dizziness, nausea, vomiting and cold sweating. This is very useful for women during pregnancy, a  delicate time when early on fetus development it is best to avoid prescription medications, yet  often women suffer from nausea and indigestion. Ginger is safe to use during pregnancy: it is effective and only a small dose needed (Always check with your doctor before using it during pregnancy).

Ginger is also very powerful as an anti-inflammatory. It contains gingerols, substances  attributed to  relief in pain in so many people suffering from osteoarthritis and /or rheumatoid arthritis. Adding fresh grated ginger to everyday dishes such as steamed rice or stir fry is all it takes to reap the benefits this spice. Ginger has also been studied for its potential cancer preventive properties and immune boosting powers.

It is a wonderful thing that ginger has such pleasant spicy flavor:  this  makes it perfect to add it to both sweets and salty dishes alike. But how can you amplify all those qualities while creating something enjoyable to eat? That’s what the goal was when I created  these Sweet and Sour Gummies. A rich dose of vitamin C comes from  lemon juice, along with  natural sweetness and immune boosting properties from honey combined with the powerful zest of ginger! These gummies are fun to make in different shapes and sizes. If you have ever made gelatin before, then you’re only a few steps away from making these gummies. Animal- based gelatin powder is made up mainly of collagen and water. These two ingredients will add protein and the consistency you are looking for in a gummy, not to mention the health benefits of collagen (sounds like a great next post!). But if you would like a vegan option you may also use the vegetarian gelatin powder made of agar.

These gummies are very sour! They were meant to be eaten one or two at a time after a meal or perhaps at the first sight of a cold since they are very rich in vitamin C. But they are not to be compared to gummy candies. If you would like a more child- friendly gummy, omit  lemon juice  and use  orange juice instead. However,  I found that some children really enjoyed the combination of sour lemon and spicy ginger!

img_4882

Sour Gummy

6 tablespoons of gelatin powder (unflavored)

2/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

6 tablespoons of Killer Bee Honey

2 teaspoons of finely grated ginger

In a small saucepan, add lemon juice, ginger and honey; mix well before sprinkling gelatin powder. Whisk mixture to avoid clumping of the gelatin powder. Now turn heat on low and mix it continuously until all of the gelatin powder disappears. Do not boil mixture, just bring it to a simmer. This should take around 7 to 9 minutes on low heat. Pour into a mold and allow the mixture  to cool. For faster results, place in freezer for 15 minutes. Store the gummy mixture  in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Sunflower Seed Buttercups

Do you know what a vegan diet really is all about? Many people have some idea about what following a vegan diet excludes from their plates. However, most do not realize the depths and reasoning behind this way of life. We have over the years listened to many of our Once Again Nut Butter fans requests, and that is why you’ll find a vegan check mark on our Once Again nut butter jars. As a matter of fact, our products are also gluten free, certified kosher, non-GMO and several come in the USDA Organic options.

Vegans can be very much at home at Once Again. “Veganism is an ethical philosophy which begins with the idea that we should not use animals in any way and avoid, to the extent that is possible and practical, all forms of use.” This definition provided by Your Daily Vegan describes in a few words what living a vegan life is all about. It is not only about the food that is consumed, but also resources that are used for your daily activities. Veganism takes great dedication and effort. Excluding animal products from your diet such as meat, cheese, chicken, fish, eggs, butter, cream, milk and even honey, among other things, is only the first step. Vegans also avoid products derived from animals such as wool, silk scarves, leather shoes, bedding that contains goose down or duck feathers, ordinary soap (usually made of animal fat), many cosmetics, and so many other items you may have never realized contain animal products. Vegans pay close attention as well to animal rights: The products they purchase and food they eat must never be tested on  laboratory animals. They have great respect for life of all forms on  our planet.

Some of you may be wondering about the possible health implications of  such a lifestyle. Since vegan diets are based on grains, seeds, legumes, fruits, vegetables, mushrooms and nuts, it is, overall, filled with nutrients! Soybeans are used to create imitation “meats” such as tofu. Because soybeans are a complete protein, meaning they contain all essential amino acids for humans, the myth that vegans do not eat enough or good quality protein is not necessarily true. Veganism could potentially cause a deficiency in vitamins B12, D, zinc and calcium since  those nutrients are mostly abundant in animal sources rather than in plants. To address the issue, many vegan products such as tofu are now fortified with those nutrients to guarantee a better intake average of said vitamins and minerals. According to a recent article in February of 2016 from Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, veganism appears to provide health benefits, including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and heart disease.

Veganism is a complex form of the vegetarian diet with which we are more familiar.  Vegetarians also do avoid animal products such as red meat, chicken, pork but may sometimes include eggs, fish and other products made with animal derived ingredients, such as milk, for example. The vegetarian diet often includes honey, which is not always the case with  vegans. The case for honey is not so black-or-white  when it comes to defining if it is vegan- friendly. Honey is technically not vegan since it is produced by bees. However, bees are insects, and there has been  a discussion examining potentially negative environmental impacts of  honey harvesting. You may find it a bit odd that with our discussion about veganism we will include a recipe that calls for honey, in this case. We respect all choices of lifestyle, especially those who are so in tune with nature and preserving our environmental  resources. We do however also recognize the benefits of using honey as a sweetener (see post here on health benefits of honey we published earlier this year). Therefore, you may choose to make this recipe as is, or feel free to substitute maple syrup, which is a vegan- friendly ingredient.  Regardless of the route you choose, these Sunflower Seed Buttercups are going to dramatically change the way you look at seed butters! They are sweet treats that will deliver mouthwatering texture and taste, and they are easily made in just a few minutes, too.

And remember, honey is also paleo-diet friendly! That is another diet and lifestyle we will dig into in an upcoming blog. It is so much more than just eating raw meat. You’ll be surprised when you discover its origins and possibilities.

Sunflower Seed Cups by Once Again Nut Butter

Sunflower Seed Buttercups

½ cup of Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter, lightly sweetened

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

2 tablespoons of Killer Bee Honey

2 tablespoons of chocolate chips

1 tablespoon of roasted sunflower seeds

Mix Once Again Nut Butter Sunflower Seed Butter with coconut oil. Make sure the coconut oil is liquid at room temperature prior to mixing with sunflower seed butter. Now add honey and mix it well. Pour into molds and sprinkle with chocolate chips and roasted sunflower seeds. Take to freezer for 30 minutes, remove from mold and enjoy! Store leftovers in freezer. These treats melt fast when at room temperature.

Banana Upside Down Cake

Here we go again talking about bananas. You’re correct if  you’re thinking that we often include bananas in our recipes. We have several recipes that either feature bananas as the main ingredient right alongside one of our Once Again Nut Butter products. Or we have used bananas  as a sweetening ingredient. Bananas are so easy to add to almost any recipe because they provide natural sugar, increase moisture, add to texture and often reduce the overall caloric content of a recipe when replacing other ingredients. Therefore, bananas will continue to be a commonly seen item in our recipes, especially as they are a marvelous match for  our nut and seed butters when it comes to flavor boosting.

We have a post that goes into detail about the nutritional content of bananas if you are interested in learning more (link here). To summarize,   bananas are not only high in potassium, but they also contain fiber, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. Bananas when mashed can be added to cake, cookies and bread recipes. When diced, they can be used as toppings, frozen treats and so much more. This recipe we’re sharing today uses bananas in both ways, mashed in the cake batter as well as sliced up for a beautifully delicious topping. The more common version of this cake is the Pineapple Upside Down Cake, where pineapple is paired with cherries and a yellow cake batter. Since bananas and cashew butter make such a delightful pairing in taste and texture, this modification seemed like a must-be-done  approach to this old famous cake style. This is a  banana upside down cake, made with plenty of mashed bananas in the batter which also includes Once Again Organic Cashew Butter, and it is topped with sliced bananas.  A  touch of sweetness comes from coconut sugar or honey! The only place sweetener is included is in the topping (or bottom of the cake ); there is no need to add sugar  to the batter as the mashed bananas are sweet enough on their own. If you prefer a sweeter tasting cake, make sure to select over-ripened bananas.

Do not be afraid of trying this recipe due to the fancier look of an upside down cake. The cake turns quite nicely, and there isn’t a rule saying you must turn it upside down, either! If you prefer, just leave it right on the pan and serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an extra special touch.

Banana Upside Down Cake by Once Again Nut Butter

Banana Upside Down Cake

For upside down topping:

4 tablespoons of coconut oil

½ cup coconut sugar (optional) or ½ cup honey

2 bananas, sliced

For cake batter:

1 ½ cup of mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)

3 eggs

1/3 cup of Once Again Cashew Butter

3 tablespoons of coconut oil

½ cup of whole wheat flour

1 Teaspoon of cinnamon

¾ teaspoon of baking soda

¾ teaspoon of baking powder

Start with a 9 inches round pan lightly sprayed, using non-stick cooking spray. Mix coconut oil and honey (or sugar) and spread on bottom of pan. Then layer the slices of bananas.

For the batter, mix mashed bananas with cashew butter, first. Once well-mixed, add coconut oil at room temperature, and eggs. Mix well by hand or use or a mixer at low speed. In separate bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. Next,  add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Mix well at a  low speed, or by hand until you achieve cake batter consistency. Pour batter over sliced bananas on pan and bake in an oven pre-heated  at  350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes. Remove from oven, and let it cool for at least 30 minutes before turning the cake. For best results, and easier turning of the cake, use a springform pan.

Chocolate Tahini Cups

The hashtag “hump day” as it refers to Wednesdays has been around for some time now, and it continues to be quite popular, yes, weekly. Many take  to social media to express their struggle with getting through that middle day of the week. It is far enough from the weekend so that you’re no longer refreshed, and unfortunately it remains still two days away from the next upcoming weekend when you can hopefully catch up on  some of that rest again. People choose different small ways to make their Wednesdays a bit easier. Perhaps a short walk during their lunch breaks which may include a fancy coffee. Exercise can help, too: a quick jump in the pool to refresh  mind and body during summer weeks, or a yoga session. The most common way to release stress and lighten the burden of the dreaded Wednesday is with a sweet treat and a glass of wine (or beer, or any other adult beverage that helps one relax at the end of the day).

Yet, should that one sweet treat mid-week, necessary to help you survive the day, ruin the entire week of healthy eating and exercise? Absolutely not! So here enters our chocolate tahini cups that will extinguish  that need for a sugar pick-me-up, ironically without any white sugar at all!

The recipe for Chocolate Tahini Cups includes ingredients targeted to specifically fulfill your needs during  those slavishly long Wednesdays. The coconut oil in this recipe plays its  part by satiating your untimely hunger after dinner, honey provides natural sugar; cacao powder, of course, is a nutritional must and tahini delivers a creamy texture and earthy taste while delivering the protein. But who has time to make treats on a busy day in the middle of a work week? Well, these only take 5 minutes to prepare, and since they are kept in the freezer, they can be made over the weekend and stored for those “emergency” times when you simply must have something sweet!

We all rely on tricks and sometimes “crutches” to get us through stressful times, but shouldn’t those edible  refuges from the daily “grind” not also fit into  our overall goals for health? They can, and they should! Feel free to make this recipe your own by altering a few ingredients. For example, if you are vegan, substitute maple syrup for honey.  For those trying to increase their probiotic intake, add a dollop of Greek- style yogurt to the top of each cup before freezing these treats.  Instead of chocolate chips, you may stir  in chopped dried sour cherries for a sweet-and-sour taste surprise . Make these cups gourmet by adding a sprinkle of kosher salt on top before freezing them. Go wherever  your creativity takes you.  We would love to see what you come up with, so please share your inspirations on our Instagram, Twitter or Facebook account, and tag us including the hashtag  #humpdaytreats.

img_5288

Chocolate Tahini Cups

½ cup of Once Again Nut Butter Tahini, unsweetened and salt free

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

2 tablespoons of Once Again Killer Bee Honey

2 tablespoons of unsweetened cacao powder

Chocolate chips, optional

Mix Once Again Tahini with coconut oil. Make sure the coconut oil is liquid at room temperature prior to mixing with Tahini. Now add honey and cacao powder and mix all ingredients  well. Pour into molds and sprinkle with chocolate chips (optional).  Freeze for 30 minutes, then remove these treats from the mold and enjoy! Store leftovers  in freeze.  These treats melt fast when at room temperature. So keep them frosty cold!

Double Chocolate Fudge Popsciles

Do you know the difference between cacao and cocoa powder? Not many people actually do, so don’t worry if you’re not sure of the difference — or if you’ve used the two interchangeably thinking they mean the same thing. Once I started to explore ingredients towards the end of my nutrition training, that was  when I first learned what makes cacao different from cocoa powder. It’s all chocolate in the end, but it has to do with how the cacao beans are processed and  become the powder we purchase on   store shelves that matters.

So, why are we talking about cacao or cocoa powder in  a nut butter blog ? Well, we strive to bring you recipes with wholesome ingredients that not only taste amazing, but also provide you with optimum  nutrition. Therefore, knowing how to distinguish between those two powders will help you make better-informed ingredient choices based upon your health goals.

The process of making chocolate starts with cacao beans. Cacao is a plant native to the tropical regions of Central and South America. They produce a fruit called the cacao pod which houses 20 to 60 seeds, usually called cacao beans; they are embedded within a white pulp. The fruit, once ripened, is harvested and opened to remove the pulp with seeds. The pulp is placed in a bin and covered for fermentation to occur. During fermentation the pulp is converted into alcohol by the yeasts present in the air and  heat. The beans are mixed several times during the process to increase oxygenation, which turns the alcohol into lactic and acetic acids. This process slowly changes the beans, converting them from having a bitter flavor to having more of the complex flavors that we know collectively as “chocolate.”

Cacao powder is made by cold-pressing raw cacao beans, which allows some living enzymes in the cacao to remain active; however, this process removes the fat from the beans (We are talking about cacao butter, the substance used to make chocolate bars). Cocoa powder, on the other hand, is made when the cacao beans are roasted at a high temperature and  then ground into fine powder. This also removes  fat, as well as the living enzymes.  Although cocoa powder may seem nutritionally inferior to cacao powder, they are both great sources of antioxidants, and cocoa powder is cheaper. Cacao powder contains more fiber and calories than cocoa powder since more of the nutrients from the whole bean remain  intact. Cacao is an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber and a small amount of protein as well. When choosing to buy cocoa powder, stay away from cocoa mixes since those contain added sugar. Both powders are a rich source of fiber and antioxidants, so you can’t go wrong!

Now that you know the difference between the two powders, let’s add cacao powder  to a healthy treat –shall we? Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter is the perfect flavor match for cacao powder. Their combination provides a creamy texture and rich flavor that makes this Double Chocolate Fudge Popsicle better than any other version out there! And here are some tips for making the recipe successfully: First, make sure you combine the sunflower seed butter and cacao powder well before adding other ingredients. Also, using a well ripened avocado is important to achieve the smooth texture of a fudgelike popsicle. And finally , make several batches because these treats will go quickly!

Double Fudge Popsciles

Double Chocolate Fudge Popsicle

1 tablespoon of Once Again Sunflower Butter

2 tablespoons of unsweetened cacao powder

1 cup of milk of your choice (use whole fat milk for creamier result)

½ of one avocado

Chocolate chips

Start with Once Again Sunflower Seed butter and mix in cacao powder. Once well mixed, add it to a blender and slowly add avocado and milk. You will  have a thick mixture, Pour it into molds, filling each  up only up halfway. Add a few chocolate chips to each, and then add the rest of the mixture, filling up the rest of each mold. Makes about 3 popsicles, depending on size of your mold.

All Your Seeds

Are seeds really good for you? Over  the past few years, we have really turned our attention to seeds and all the nutrients they each contain. More so than ever, we are all using seeds routinely, sometimes as an ingredient, sometimes as a topping and other times as substitute for various  components of a recipe. Perhaps the best part of this “seed revolution” is that we are discovering new ways to enjoy them and add them to our diets.

Given this trend, this seems like a great opportunity to review some of the most commonly used seeds and how they can each add to your good health! Besides their protein and fiber contents, seeds also have vitamins and minerals. And of course, in true Once Again fashion, we will give you a recipe to use all these seeds at once. Let’s begin with sunflower seeds. Once Again Nut Butter has two options of Sunflower Seed Butter for you to choose from, one that contains organic sunflower seeds, organic sugar cane and Salt, and another with organically grown, roasted sunflower seeds that are milled smooth with organic sunflower oil…and that’s it! Either one will have all the nutrients and benefits of sunflower seeds.

Let’s consider sunflower Seeds: A popular snack at baseball fields across the county, these tiny seeds pack more than just a satisfying crunch. They are rich in vitamin E and folate. Just a quarter  cup of sunflower seeds supplies over 60% of your daily needs of vitamin E. This combination makes them powerful in promoting cardiovascular health. Vitamin E also neutralizes free radicals as an antioxidant protecting your brain and other cells in your body. They also support healthy cholesterol levels  with high amounts of phytosterols. Sunflower seeds have magnesium which is required by our muscles and skeletal system to maintain proper function. Magnesium has an important role in your maintaining a good mood too. It has a calming effect and has been used in anti-depressant therapies with good results. Finally, let’s highlight the selenium content in sunflower seeds. . This essential nutrient has critical role in thyroid hormone metabolism and has been noted for its ability to encourage DNA repair in damaged cells.

Flaxseeds: They are made up of 18% protein and 42% fat. And that is the good news! The fat in flaxseeds is mostly polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as omega-6 fatty acid and omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).  They are one of the richest dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids. ALA is an essential fatty acid, which means our body cannot produce it on its own. The fat composition of flaxseeds is what makes them significant fighters in reducing  the risk of various chronic diseases.  They are also a good source of thiamine (vitamin B1), copper, molybdenum, magnesium and phosphorus. One of the most talked about characteristics of flaxseeds is their fiber content. Two tablespoons of flaxseeds contain about 6 grams of fiber, of which 20-40% is soluble and 60-80%  insoluble, including cellulose and lignin. Lignins  are also known as phytoestrogens, which have been linked with benefits for cardiovascular health, metabolic syndrome stabilization and fighting several types of hormone-sensitive cancers.

Chia Seeds: These are fairly new to the scene but quickly gaining popularity. The fact that you don’t need to grind them is a plus! They have a high concentration of plant-based omega-3 fatty acid ALA, Something that I  mentioned above in the flaxseed discussion: They are powerful in lowering triglycerides, supporting healthy cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure, depressing inflammatory activity and  promoting heart health.  In addition, chia seeds also have a number of phytochemicals such as myricetin, quercetin and kaempferol, each with its own unique benefits. These phytochemicals are known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.  Two tablespoons of chia seeds can provide 18% of your daily recommended value for calcium, 35% of phosphorus, 24% of magnesium, and 50% of manganese. Chia seeds provide another great choice to maintain heart, bone and overall health!

Sesame Seeds:  Sadly most people were introduced to sesame seeds on top of a hamburger bun. Hopefully we can separate the two and continue to include sesame seeds in our diet beyond just as sprinkle topping to buns. Are those tiny seeds worth our attention? Absolutely! You may have tried our tahini before, which is nothing more than ground sesame seeds. As a matter of fact, in one jar of tahini there are about 177,000 sesame seeds! They are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids, such as oleic acid. Oleic acids help lower LDL and increase HDL, helping prevent coronary artery diseases. They are also a good source of protein. In 100 grams of seeds, there are 18 grams of protein. These little seeds also pack a variety of phenolic anti-oxidants, which help decrease the harmful effects of free radicals in our body. Sesame seeds also contain folic acid (25% of recommended daily intake in just 100 grams of seeds), niacin, thiamin, vitamin B6 and riboflavin. As far as essential minerals, sesame seeds are surprisingly rich in calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium and copper, given  their small size!

Did you know quinoa is actually a seed, too ? Even though most people think of quinoa as a whole grain, it is actually a seed harvested from a plant called goosefoot; but I’ll leave that history for another post!

Although the reasons I’ve noted here are enough to make you look at seeds with a different perspective, the following recipe  will make you fall in love with seeds all over again. Or at the very least, you’ll have a great recipe for a snack, breakfast, post-workout  recovery, fiber- boost or any number of goals you’re trying to achieve with your diet. I suppose seeds aren’t just for birds after all! We should be taking notes  about  them and eating more seeds overall, too! Watch the video to see how easy this recipe  is to prepare.


All Your Seeds by Once Again Nut Butter

All Your Seeds

¼ cup of Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter, lightly salted
¼ cup of dried apricots
¼ cup of raisins
¼ cup of ground flaxseeds
¼ cup of unsweetened coconut
¼ cup of sunflower seeds, roasted
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
¼ cup of Once Again Killer Bee Honey
½ cup of coconut oil
¼ cup uncooked quinoa (or cooked)
1 ¾ cups of oats (pulsed to flour in food processor)
¼ teaspoon of baking soda

Start by pulsing oats in food processor until you obtain a flour-like consistency. Then add in apricots, raisins, flaxseeds, coconut, sunflower seeds, chia seeds and quinoa. Pulse a few times until the apricots are rendered in small, chopped bits. Lastly, add coconut oil, honey, Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter and baking soda. Pulse a few times until you obtain an even mixture. Add a spoonful to a mini-muffin tin sprayed with oil or buttered . Place in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Wait until the bites cool before removing them from the muffin pan. Store them in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Thumbprint Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chips

Thumbprint cookies have been around for a long time! Although there is some controversy as to exactly when they were first created however, there are records of them from the early 19th century. History is also not clear about whom to credit for this cookie’s creation either the Polish, Swedish or possibly the Jewish people of Eastern Europe. Regardless of their  exact origin, these cookies are to this day a favorite in our American bakeries and cookbooks.

I like to imagine that perhaps they came about by accident. A mother somewhere in Europe had just set out a pan of cookies ready to go in the oven, and in the meantime her children, while she wasn’t looking, wanted to check if the cookies were ready and one by one stuck his or her thumb into the cookies! To cover up their mistake the child  added some jam to each little “thumb-hole”. The mother saw the kids around the cookie pan and told them to scatter, quickly taking the pan to the oven without noticing what the kids had done. And just like that: the thumbprint cookie was born. !

Obviously there is no record of how it came about, but it’s fun to think about the possibilities. That brings me to why these are perfect cookies to bake with little fingers around. If you have kids around looking for something to do, this recipe is your answer to a fun and delicious activity to keep them busy. Children’s smaller- sized thumbs make the perfect indentations into these cookies for you to add a few chocolate chips. In case you don’t have little fingers around, just make the cookies bigger and use your own thumb of course. Another option is to use the back of a ½ teaspoon measuring spoon —  this tool will make the  perfect size.

Here are a few other notes about this particular thumbprint cookie recipe. The original is similar to a sugar cookie; this one, on the other hand, is a peanut butter cookie. Instead of vegetable oil, we used coconut oil. A few of our blogs have touched on  why we use coconut oil in baking (see here), but if you are not convinced yet, this is a good recipe to try. It is important to use the egg at room temperature when mixing it with coconut oil. The oil is liquid only at room temperature; when mixed into a cold liquid such as cold milk or eggs, it will solidify. This makes it very difficult to turn this mixture into a cookie dough. Lastly, we made this recipe two different ways: One using regular sugar, and once using sugar substitute (stevia was our choice). Both methods turned out fantastic! We noticed that with the sugar substitute, you need a little more time in the oven, so if choosing this method just carefully watch your cookies while they are in the oven. .

Don’t feel like you have to fill them with chocolate chips either! The choice is completely yours! You can choose jam, chopped nuts, dried fruits, or even an extra tiny dollop of peanut butter. Share with us what you decided to fill your cookies with and post in the comments’ section below. We can’t wait to hear about your version of this old- time, traditional cookie.

img_4951

Thumbprint Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chips

1 cup of whole wheat flour
¾ teaspoon of baking powder
½ tablespoon of coconut oil
1 egg at room temperature
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon of Once Again Crunchy Peanut Butter
½ cup of sugar or equivalent in sugar substitute
1 teaspoon of vanilla
½ cup milk of your choice
Whisk egg at room temperature and add peanut butter, coconut oil, vanilla and sugar. Mix well, and then slowly add in wheat flour mixed with baking powder. Finally, add  milk as needed to form dough. You may need a little more than a ½ cup for a smooth dough. Roll about 1 tablespoon of dough at a time into small rounds. Using the back of a ¼ teaspoon create small wells in each cookie, or just use your thumb! Then fill each with chocolate chips or your favorite jam. Bake them in  an oven preheated  to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-20 minutes. Store cookies  in airtight container for up to 4 days.