Tag: cashew butter

Cashew Delights Sandwich Cookies

Whoever thought up the idea a sandwich cookie was a pure genius! A clever way to enjoy 2 cookies at once made better by a creamy filling. It is no surprise sandwich cookies are commonplace and abundant across the world. That’s right, it is not an exclusively American phenomenon. People in other countries may have different flavor combinations, but they too enjoy the double cookie held together by a delicious middle layer. For example, Australia’s favorite cookie is the Tim Tam, which consists of two malted cookies (or their preferred term: “biscuits”) separated by a light chocolate cream filling and coated in more chocolate. Brazil has a wedding day tradition to serve and enjoy a sandwich cookie called Bem Casado, which translates to “well married.” It’s two butter cookies with a dulce de leche filling, covered in powdered sugar.

We are also fans of sandwich cookies here at Once Again Nut Butter! So, here we set off to create an easy recipe to make at home using wholesome ingredients. First, there are some basic rules when creating sandwich cookies. There must be two cookies that are flavorful enough to stand on their own. The cookies should be strong enough to hold a filling. When baked, these cookies must stay soft but not too mushy, to prevent them from   blending with the creamy middle.  A crispy cookie is harder to work with since it crumbles too easily when assembling the final product

Ideally, the filling is not sweeter than the cookie. It is creamy and could contain crunchy ingredients to add a surprise texture for that moment when you bite into it. There are several discussion boards on social media dedicated to arguing for those who like to separate the sandwich cookies, lick the middle and then enjoy the cookie versus those who prefer to bite into the total cookie.  Either way, it is important that   each component of the cookie be able to shine on its own. The cookie we created has a soft cashew butter cookie making the outer layers and a creamy- sweet, nutty filling. The amount of filling you add to each sandwich is entirely up to you. In our test kitchen, we had a bit of filling left over, and we weren’t short of volunteers ready to lick the bowl and also try it as a topping for ice cream or a spread for their toast.

The cashew cookie has a thinner batter, and we found it easier to pour about one tablespoon of it in regular- sized muffin tins to bake them rather than using a conventional cookie sheet. This helped ensure that they were evenly sized and baked. The filling will be rather thick. It allows you to stick both cookies together without having to worry about a the  middle spilling out. But if you would like, you may add a couple of tablespoons of warm water to your filling for a thinner texture. And perhaps you have a different idea for your filling? Share it with us in the comments, We are thinking that a little bit of cacao powder could take these delights up a notch— What do you think?

Cashew Sandwich Cookies on Once Again Nut Butter Blog

Cashew Delights Sandwich Cookies

Cookie

¾ cups of Once Again Nut Butter Cashew Butter

½ cup of coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

1 egg

Filling

½ cup of chopped nuts (Choose your favorite, or use a mix!)

5 oz of dates (Deglet, Noor or Medjool)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

4-6 teaspoons of warm water

In a small bowl, beat the egg, and mix in the coconut sugar. Next, add the cashew butter and mix well. For evenly sized cookies, we recommend using a muffin tin to bake the cookies. Add about 1 tablespoon of batter to each muffin slot and tap the pan down on the counter to flatten the batter. Place in oven, at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes, or just until edges become golden. Remove cookies from oven and let them cool before removing them from the pan. They will be a bit soft when first removed from oven, but will harden and be crispier when cooled. The recipe will make about 18 cookies, or 9 sandwich cookies when assembled with the filling.

For the filling, add pitted dates and warm water to food processor until you achieve a homogeneous mixture of paste consistency. Add in chopped nuts and mix well in processor. Now add ½ to 1 tablespoon of filling to each cookie and top it with another cookie. Enjoy these amazing delights! Store in airtight container for up to 5 days. They will keep better in the refrigerator.

No Sugar Added Paleo Banana Bread


There is no shortage of banana bread recipes out there. There are recipes to fit every dietary restriction you can imagine: These include banana breads made without eggs, without milk, some without any grains, and the list goes on. But of course, they all have bananas! We developed a banana bread recipe you’ll certainly want to add to your repertoire. It is, in fact a paleo recipe since it does not contain flour or white sugar. But it is also a gluten-free recipe loaded with fiber, protein and healthy fats. Although the recipe includes just one banana, you can use two bananas and simply increase the coconut flour to 4 tablespoons for a larger loaf.

This banana bread is, however, more of a bread than a cake. Usually banana loaves tend to include quite a bit of sweetener, either sugar or honey, or at times sweeteners like stevia. This version only contains the sweetness of the banana and the natural sugars present in cashew butter. Due to the addition of cinnamon, the natural sugars are enhanced giving the overall creation a sweeter flavor. Since it also uses a low amount of coconut flour, but larger protein- rich ingredients such as eggs, flaxseeds, and cashew butter; this recipe makes a powerful option for a breakfast or post-work out snack. This bread is dense and filling, as well.

For a sweeter treat, cut a slice about ¼ inch thick, place it in your toaster, and spread it with your favorite jam or honey! Of course, these additions stray a bit from the paleo diet, one that   excludes sugar and honey.

So probably you are wondering just how much protein does this No Sugar Added Paleo Banana Bread contain?

We used a nutrition calculator to analyze this recipe. The results aren’t 100% accurate, but they give a good idea about the amount of protein in each batch. The full recipe adds up to 23 grams of protein and makes a small loaf made in a 6×3 inch pan. Each serving size of maybe ¼ of the loaf, contains 5.75 grams of protein! Not too bad for banana bread!

There is another ingredient you can add to this recipe as well. We tried adding ½ cup of applesauce, and the banana bread was a bit sweeter but also heavier and took longer to bake. When trying to swap the eggs for flax-eggs for a vegan approach, the recipe failed. It took over one hour to bake and was mushy inside. But the best part of recipe creation is experimenting with ingredients until you get the perfect combination! Feel free to adapt this recipe and change up the ingredients to fit your needs, and then let us know what you’ve swapped and how it all turned out.

No Sugar Added Paleo Banana Bread

1 ripe banana

2 eggs

3 tablespoons of coconut flour

1 tablespoon of flaxseeds

¼ teaspoon of baking powder

½ teaspoon of cinnamon

1 tablespoon of Once Again Creamy Cashew Butter

In medium bowl, mash the banana and combine fruit with 2 eggs. Once well mixed, add the cashew butter and stir. Next, add coconut flour, flaxseeds, cinnamon and baking powder. Mix well using large spoon or hand mixer on low setting. Pour into small pan (6x3inches) and bake in a  preheated oven of 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes, or until done. Store bread in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Chickpea Veggie Stew

Chickpeas or garbanzos, whichever name you prefer, it doesn’t matter! These tiny legumes are a power house of nutrients, fiber, and protein to add to your plate. Interestingly, this legume has been cultivated for a very long time. Remains of its cultivation have been found in the Middle East from 7,500 years ago. It is part of a legume family called Fabaceae, which includes peas and sweet peas.

Dried chickpeas are a tough legume that requires a lengthy amount of cooking to make it ready to consume. They are usually rapidly boiled for ten to 15  minutes and then simmered for two to three hours. To speed up the process, you can soak them for 12-24hrs prior to cooking and shorten the simmering time  down to 30 minutes. Most people skip this time-consuming procedure and buy the canned variety.  This is a fantastic  option to have, as long as you choose a brand that uses the minimum amount of salt needed for preservation. By the way, the  water that you discard from the can, or from your pot after cooking is called “aquafaba.” If you haven’t heard of it before, stay tuned, as we hope to experiment with this ingredient soon in our own recipes. It is a liquid which contains nutrients from the legumes cooked in it, and can even be used as an egg substitute in some recipes!

Chickpeas are also the main ingredient in hummus when combined with tahini and spices. There are many ways to enjoy chickpeas, including in soups, in salads, or as a main dish. They are well-known and regarded for their protein content. One cup of cooked chickpeas provides about 11 grams of protein, while delivering  just 210 calories. This plant protein comes packed with 10 grams of fiber, vitamin B6, iron, calcium and magnesium. With that many nutrients in play, chickpeas are ideal as a main dish any day!

Our recipe below takes this mild tasting legume and infuses it with rich, deep flavors to elevate this simple bean to entrée status. A thick and creamy sauce made up of ginger, olive oil, red peppers, onions and cashew butter complements the texture of garbanzos. Steamed carrots and yellow summer squash complete the dish forming a delicious vegetable stew. Serve it warm with a side of brown rice, or by itself as soup.

Cashew butter thickens this sauce without overpowering the taste of the spices and vegetables. Most nut butters work well as thickeners to sauces, but their flavor comes through in the result. At times, this is just what you want, but when you are looking for a thickener that doesn’t impact or clash with other ingredients, then cashew butter should be your first choice.

Let us know if you try this recipe and how you like it in the comments section below. Since it is a vegetable stew, the more veggies you add, the better. Feel free to add zucchini, eggplant, beets or whatever is in season at the time in your area.

Chickpea and Veggie Stew on Once Again Nut Butter Blog, gluten free and vegan

Chickpea Veggie Stew

¼ cup of chopped onions

2 tablespoons of fresh minced garlic

½ cup chopped red peppers

½ cup sliced carrots

2 medium sized summer squash, diced

2 cups (or 1 can) of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ teaspoon of dried ginger

4 tablespoons of Once Again Nut Butter Creamy Cashew Butter

1 ¼ cups of vegetable broth

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

First, steam carrots and summer squash for about 10 minutes, until soft. In separate medium sauce pan, add olive oil, garlic, ginger, onions and peppers. Let it sizzle for a few minutes until the onion is starting to brown. Then add in broth and cashew butter and bring everything  to a boil and then remove from stove top heat. Using a had processor or blender, blend mixture until smooth. Return the mixture to the  stovetop set at medium heat ,and add in squash, carrots and chickpeas. Cook for about 10 minutes and serve warm! It’s optional to serve this stew with brown rice or noodles!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Why do we of any side effects one can experience from opium in its pure form.   Poppy seeds do however have a unique nutty aromatic flavor that eat poppy seeds? Poppy seeds, although derived from the same plant that also yields  dangerous opium compounds, are worry-free, in terms of consumption.  Ancient Egyptians and Arabs appreciated these seeds long ago. Nowadays most poppy seeds come from Turkey, France, and Eastern Europe. Thankfully, poppy seeds have stayed  around.  They are known for their flavor complexities.  They  contain antioxidant properties and some important nutrients as well.

Poppy seeds are rich in oleic and linoleic acids; their husks are a good source of fiber, and they are an excellent source of B-complex vitamins, including thiamin and folic acid. They also contain a good amount of iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and magnesium.

However, we can’t ignore that these  tiny seeds come from the same plant that yields a dangerous drug. Are any of those chemicals perhaps also found in the seeds? As a matter of fact, poppy seeds do contain a very small level of opium alkaloids, such as morphine, thebaine, codeine and papaverine. No need to panic though – these tiny levels of opium alkaloids are one of the reasons poppy seeds are perfect to consume when trying to manage stress and anxiety. In the amounts found in the seeds, these opium alkaloids, when consumed, soothe  nervous irritability, acting as painkillers.

Although lemon poppy seed muffins are nothing new to the bakery scene, I had never ventured out to make my own at home. There are a few things I found to be very important regarding this task. First if you are looking for a fresh, strong lemon flavor, it is imperative that you use fresh lemon juice and lemon zest as opposed to bottled lemon juice . There is no real replacement for lemon zest. Also, the poppy seeds should be the very last ingredient added to the mixture. To keep them lower in overall calories and added sugar, I used a stevia sugar baking mix. You may also use coconut sugar, regular sugar, or for an even lower calorie and lower  carbohydrate  version, just skip the sugar all together. No adjustments are necessary for  the rest of the recipe! It works just as it is. Once Again Cashew Butter added all the moisture and texture required for a perfect muffin without adding extra sugar or trans fats. The only flavor that comes through in this muffin is the bright, sparkling lemon — cashew butter is added only to increase the protein content  and to boost  good fats.

This muffin is perfect with a cup of calming chamomile tea  at the end of a busy week! The powers of poppy seeds, combined with cashew butter’s natural levels of magnesium, coupled with its calming properties makes it a nice way to relax and enjoy a healthy snack!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins from Once Again Nut Butter

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

2 cups of  oat flour (If you grind your own, make sure that it is finely ground.)

½ cup of coconut sugar (or a stevia baking mix equivalent)

1 tablespoon of  baking powder

¼ cup of poppy seeds

¾ cup of milk of your choice

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

2-3 tablespoons of lemon zest

1 whole egg

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

6 tablespoons of Once Again Cashew Butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Start by combining cashew butter, sugar, and egg, mixing until soft. Add  lemon juice, vanilla and milk. In separate bowl, mix oat flour, poppy seeds and baking powder,  and then  combine the dry mixture with wet ingredients. Finally add in the lemon zest. Mix well and pour into either a loaf pan or muffin pan. Bake until a toothpick can be inserted and removed clean,about 25 minutes for large muffin pan. Store in an airtight container for up  to five  days.

Cherry Bombs: Greens Energy Bites

Every once in a while, I have an aha moment in the kitchen, and something surprisingly creative emerges! These Cherry Bombs Energy Bites were something of  an accident. They are similar to the previously shared Chocolate Energy Bites recipe (here). I was separating out all my ingredients to make a batch of those since my supply was running low. I like to have a few in the freezer at all times; they are convenient snacks to grab before a long run or work out. When reaching for the chopped cashews can in the pantry, I accidentally grabbed the greens powder container instead. I looked at it, and that was when the light bulb above my head went on! What a great opportunity to add some greens to my diet in an unexpected way! It was then that I mixed   four tablespoons of greens powder into the whole batch since I did not want a strong greens flavor in these bites. But feel free to add more in if you are looking to maximize your greens intake. The results were fantastic!

We believe that you should eat greens  as much as possible in their natural raw state. But for those days when you just don’t have time to prepare a salad, or make a smoothie with fresh greens, turning to green powders is an effective  way to supplement your diet. Until I created these bites, the only way I had previously utilized my greens powder was in smoothies. I have seen some recipes that incorporate them into cookies or baked goods, but I had  never had the opportunity to try them . These energy bites are a well suited vessel for greens powder. They are sweet enough due to the naturally occurring sugar in dates,  covering any bitterness that you may taste from the  greens powder formula.

Another new addition to these energy bites are the chopped tart cherries. As mentioned a few posts ago, (see link here), tart cherries have incredible properties that benefit in muscle recovery and lower inflammation, when consumed post exercise. Their tart flavor added  a bright fruity touch in these super-chocolaty bites, as well. Moreover, you can use any of your favorite Once Again nut butters  instead of cashew butter. The chopped cashews and pecan meals required for this recipe are also easily swapped for other nut flavors you prefer or may have available in your kitchen. Since I always keep a supply of most nuts, I usually get to pick which one to use, but while at a friend’s  house, I decided to show her how to make this recipe when  all she had were  Brazil nuts. We used those instead of the cashews and the final results were delicious.. Just pulse the Brazil nuts a few times in  the food processor to break them up into smaller bits before adding them to the energy bites mixture.

It’s a delight to watch how children love these energy bites.  I sometimes pack a few  in my children’s lunch boxes, and inevitably they come back asking me to write out the recipe because they shared the bites  with a friend who now also wants to make them. That’s partly why I first made the video of the original energy bites recipe (see video here). It’s much easier to show people how to make them than  trying to write it all out. Do you add any fun twists to your energy bites at home? Share them with us in the comments’ section below!

Cherry Bombs Energy Bites

Cherry Bombs Energy Bites

16 ounces of dates

2 tablespoons of cacao powder, unsweetened

4 tablespoons of pecan meal

¼ cup chopped of cashews

¼ cup of chopped tart cherries

2 tablespoons of Once Again Creamy Cashew Butter

4 tablespoons of a greens powder of your choice

Start by adding dates to your food processor. Even though you can purchase dates without the pits, I always recommend checking each one by hand before adding them to the food processor. Pulse them several times until you achieve a ball-like consistency. Next add cashew butter, greens powder, pecan meal and cashews. Lastly, remove dough from food processor and mix in the tart cherries. You may use your hands to fold in the cherries, just make sure to wet your hands so the mixture doesn’t stick to them. Roll the mixture  into balls and keep them in the refrigerator for up  to 10 days. Or freeze them for up to 45 days. (They may last longer, but so far I have only savored  their flavor and consistency after having them stored for a maximum of 45 days.)

Creamy Carrot Soup

The simplicity of a single- ingredient- focused soup is what makes it popular and ideal to highlight some powerful herbs and spices. Carrots, all on their own, have a sweet earthy taste that is  brought to the surface when cooked. When combined with maple syrup and slivered almonds, they help create  a side dish worthy of a holiday meal. Carrots are used in juice blends matching the flavors of vanilla or cinnamon very well. However, when combined with ginger and turmeric, carrots are elevated to gourmet soup status. The best part is that this soup is  very simple to make at home. And beyond this obvious convenience, this creamy soup will not need any cream at all!

Why carrots you ask? Carrots are best known for their beta-carotene content, which is what gives them their  orange color. They also  other phytonutrients, including alpha-carotene and lutein. They are also an excellent source of vitamin A, a very good source of biotin, vitamin K, fiber, potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. And that’s not all– they are also a good source of manganese, niacin, folate, copper and vitamin E.  Think you have  the idea? They are nutrient powerhouses!

Unfortunately, it is easy to overshadow all that goodness by adding large amounts of some “not so stellar” ingredients when making creamy carrot soup. Buttermilk, butter and cream are not by any means “villains” (we don’t like to categorize foods in such a way). But they can add a heaping amount of calories and saturated fats to recipes and our diets, which can be counteractive to those trying to stay on a determined eating plan. Therefore, there is a much better ingredient that will deliver that same creaminess to your soup without completely changing the nutrient profile of it . As a matter of fact, my solution  will add a boost of some nutrients such as protein. Just a couple of tablespoons of Once Again Creamy Cashew Butter works wonders in this recipe.  We have tried other Once Again Nut Butters as thickeners for  soup and experienced tasty results as well! Tahini is a popular addition for soups. For this creamy carrot soup, the best match is  Once Again Creamy Cashew butter. It seems that  the cashews and carrots enhance the earthy sweet flavors they both share.

A warm bowl of creamy soup can be your comfort dinner on a cold day.  Although I hope this is not only a trend, I truly appreciate the way we are embracing also enjoying warm soups for breakfast! Talk about a fantastic way to start your day with a nice serving of veggies! So when you make your next batch of creamy carrot soup, besides having the best aroma in your kitchen (ginger and carrot are phenomenally fragrant), remember to save some for your next morning breakfast!

 Creamy Carrot Soup from Once Again Nut Butter

Creamy Carrot Soup

1 pound  peeled and chopped carrots

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 chopped garlic cloves

¼ teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 ½ cups vegetable broth

2 tablespoons Once Again Nut Butter Creamy Cashew butter

Juice of 1 lime

To a medium sized pot, add the olive oil, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Heat for a few minutes before adding in carrots. Let carrots be fully coated with olive oil and spice mixture before adding in the vegetable broth. Once added, cook for about 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Lastly, add in cashew butter and lime juice. Cook for another two to three minutes and remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup into a creamy mixture. Serve hot and a dollop of sour cream, if you like, for a flavorful garnish.

Chocolate Energy Bars/Bites Recipe

What’s the difference between a candy treat and a power-packed  energy snack? It’s a difficult line to draw. Both options are high in sugar, but the quality of ingredients may be the deciding factor. This recipe brushes pretty close between the lines of being an energy snack and/ or  a  candy treat. No need to panic though, it works as both extremely well. But let’s back up a little  and explore  why I developed this recipe and have shared it multiple times already before I was even able to post it! The second I made it, and I snapped  picture of it for Instagram, requests came flooding in for the recipe. Not only my fellow runner friends wanted this magical energy treat but also my friends from our moms’  group. They just had to have this “cleaner and better version” of “candy” that they could offer to their kids.

I have been looking for a quick energy drop that is so easy to digest that one could eat it before going out on a job or an endurance workout . I have some energy bites that I have shared on this blog before, and I still make them often as well. But I wanted one that didn’t have any grains this time for the sake of variety, as well as  having a differently sourced form of  energy. Our body requires energy to run, but how we ingest that energy creates  different  routes  for our body to process it. Carbohydrates and sugar provide this quick energy that our body can burn through while we exercise and or run. It is up to us to find just the right ones for our bodies that result in the best performance. That’s right! This is not a one answer fits all puzzle. Some athletes, for example, rely on a tablespoon  of  honey right before a 5 mile run in order to achieve better running times,  while conversely others prefer a banana with peanut butter.. In the end, they all contain about the same amount of carbohydrates, but how your body digests each and breaks the food  down to “usable energy” remains  a bit different. Therefore, finding the ones that work for you is a matter of trying and keeping track of  performance.

These energy bites are made up mainly of dates. Dates have a high sugar content, making them   a   energy booster. They are also rich in potassium and fiber. In just one cup of chopped dates, you’ll find a combined 12 grams of soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as around 415 calories and 3.6 grams of protein. By adding the pecan meal (which can be substituted for any other nut finely ground up into a powder consistency) and cashew butter, the flavor and nutrients are enhanced as well. And since chocolate is my friend always, I added some cacao powder and chocolate chips, which are completely optional. Instead you can add vanilla extract and chopped dry cherries for a new flavor..

The other super fans of these bars or drops —  it all depends on how you choose to prepare them — are kids! Our goal is, of course,  to decrease the amount of  processed sugar in children’s diets. The unfortunate numbers for childhood chronic diseases are  related to their overwhelming intake of sugar, which  is still much higher than desired in our country. These treats, on the other hand, provide a satisfying sweet flavor with added benefits. The nutrients found in these energy drops are not present in the vast majority of candy marketed to children. Although they may contain the same grams of sugar, these will provide vitamins and minerals, fiber, protein and no added artificial preservatives. It is what I like to call a “clean candy.1’ This way we still understand they are high sugar and not something you’d want to provide as a daily afternoon snack, allowing  your child to pop five or six at a time into their mouths. But instead of gum, candy coated chocolate, hard sugar candy,, these are without a doubt a better choice for your kids!

Not sure you can make them at home? Grab the ingredients and watch the video below, so we can make them together!

Energy Bites from Once Again Nut Butter Blog, Carolina Jantac, MS, RD LD

Chocolate Energy Bars/Drops

 1 pound of dates

½ cup pecan meal (ground pecan to a fine powder consistency)

1 tablespoon cacao powder

1 tablespoon Once Again Nut Butter Cashew butter

½ cup dark chocolate chips

Add half of the dates to food processor and pulse on high until the mixture forms into a ball, and then add in the other half of the dates and pulse again. Now add pecan meal and cacao powder to the food processor and pulse until well mixed. Last, add the cashew butter and chocolate chips. The mixture will be very sticky. By slightly dampening your hands with water, it  will be  much easier to work with this “dough.”  Place it on  parchment paper, and place another piece of parchment paper on top of it. Roll it out using a rolling pin until it reaches desired thickness. One half inch of dough  makes a great sized bar. Then cut and place bars in lined pan to set in refrigerator for 15 minutes. You may also roll them into bites. Store in refrigerator for up to 10 days or freeze for up to 30 days. This recipe makes about 18 bars.

Estimated calories: 110 per bar when making 18 bars total.

Hello Summer Giveaway!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jumbo Flourless Chocolate Muffins

This recipe takes a different approach to  my usual baking,  not so much in the ingredient choices, but in the size of the finished product. If you have been following our recipe blogs for a while, you likely noticed my preference for “bite-sized” type of baked goods, small portioned desserts and mini-sized versions of recipes. But there are times when one just needs a jumbo -sized muffin! Maybe you need one after a long week at work, or a particularly challenging meeting, or perhaps after a bad episode of your favorite T.V. show. Whatever the reason, there are times when it is appropriate to indulge in a super-sized baked treat. And for those times, we want you to be prepared with a quick recipe to go to.

When baking large- sized muffins, it is crucial that the batter  you are preparing have enough leavening agent to grow and stay fluffy during the oven baking process. Not to get too technical here, but your leavening agent, also known as raising agent, incorporates gas bubbles into the dough. The two most often used in baking are baking soda and baking powder. So why don’t we  take a minute to explain the difference between the two? You can use this information to create your own recipes and have confidence they  won’t flop when put in the oven.

Baking soda, aka: pure sodium bicarbonate, combines with the moisture and an acidic ingredient in your mix, resulting in a chemical reaction that produces bubbles of carbon dioxide. These expand when in the oven causing your dough to rise. Since they act immediately, once the baking soda is added, you are on a timer to get your muffins to the oven or else they could fail to rise. Note that the recipe depends on an acidic ingredient for it to work. This can be yogurt, buttermilk, lemon juice or even chocolate. Without one, your baking soda won’t work at all. It’s nice to check to see if   your baking soda is fresh by adding a teaspoon to vinegar some of it; if it bubbles immediately, you are good to go!

The other agent widely used in our recipes is baking powder. This one contains sodium bicarbonate as well, but also includes the acidifying agent (cream of tartar) and a drying agent (starch). It can stand a little extra time, as it does not lose its potency so quickly, so you don’t have to rush your batter  into the oven. It will work once it reaches warmer temperatures, allowing your muffins  to rise in the oven while baking. It can also be tested for freshness by adding a teaspoon to warm water; if it bubbles right away, it’s fresh!

Some recipes will actually ask for both, baking soda and baking powder. This allows the raising to happen twice:  once while you are mixing it (because of baking soda) and then again when it reaches the oven (because of baking powder), giving your recipe  an extra boost of air bubbles. The art of baking is a balance of science and experience. And I don’t claim to be an expert in by any means! But learning little facts about the most common ingredients will help us all advance along the  road to becoming  “master bakers.”

As a little  side note, did you know that most (if not all, I’m still investigating this) cake, cookie and muffin recipes that call for a pinch of salt do not necessarily need it? That’s right! If you are concerned about your sodium intake, try omitting the salt when you can and see if your end results are the same. So far in my kitchen, it has worked. Hooray for healthier shortcuts that are successful!

~ Carolina

jumbo flourless chocolate muffins on onceagainnutbutterblog.com

Jumbo Flourless Chocolate Muffins

¾ cup Once Again Cashew Butter

2 eggs

1/3 cup Killer Bee Honey

1/3 cup Unsweetened cacao powder

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons milk or water

¼ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat together cashew butter, eggs and honey. Add in the cacao powder, vanilla and baking soda. If mixture is too thick, add in 2 to 3 tablespoons of water or milk (your choice). Place batter in muffin tins, sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top, and take the batch  to oven for  20 to 25 minutes. Enjoy the muffins  warm, or store them in an airtight  container for up to 3 days. Makes 6 large muffins. #glultenfree #noiol #norefinedsugar

Slow Cooker Cashew Acorn Squash

Have you ever come across a vegetable, fruit or other foods that were  a bit intimidating to cook?  I certainly have, and still do at times! Professional chefs on cooking shows make it look so easy, but when I get home with a basket full of ingredients, and one of them is something I never worked with before, I know I may need a little help to complete the task. That help may come from watching YouTube videos on how to prep the item, or just a little glass of wine, as I go through the steps of the challenging recipe. In the end, the results are worth the work and make me feel quite accomplished by adding another skill to my cooking repertoire.Slow Cooker Acorn Squash www.onceagainnutbutterblog.com

Most of you may be quite familiar with winter squashes, but growing up in South America these were not common, and therefore, they still surprise me. For a while, whenever a recipe called for winter squash I would work around it, or substitute  potatoes. Thankfully my store also often sold already peeled and cut up varieties that I could use. But recently I was determined to tackle the squash after seeing a beautiful picture of an acorn squash on the cover of a good food magazine. When cooked whole, with skin, they can be a beautiful centerpiece to your dinner table adding color and aroma as well.

Slow Cooker Acorn Squash www.onceagainnutbutterblog.comThe slow cooker is a great option for cooking squash, pumpkin and potatoes. They reach a high temperature slowly and maintain the necessary heat to soften the hard textures of most winter squashes. “Keeping it simple” is my main approach when it comes to cooking; that’s why you’ll see this recipe only calls for a few ingredients. That’s really all it takes to bring  the earthy flavor of the acorn squash perfectly to your plate.

I should say that safety is first when working with squash. Use a sharp knife, and make sure the blade is always pointed away from your body. Work slowly and on a fixed cutting board. Choose a small to medium squash since those are a bit easier to handle. After washing it well I cut it up into quarters. It wasn’t as difficult as I imagined, but peeling it was out of the question for me. Besides, the presentation of the acorn squash, given the beauty of its the skin, is what makes it look so wonderful on the plate. Clean out the insides of the squash well and wash it again. My kids wanted to plant the seeds to see if we could get more acorn squash, and it has been about 3 weeks, and now we have a few little plants growing! It’s a warm winter in Florida (with temperatures above normal), so I am not sure if we’ll get a good turn out, but I was happy to let them play in the dirt and try to grow some food.

But back to cooking…. I added one tablespoon of cashew butter to each quarter and topped it with the turmeric and salt. I arranged the slices  at the bottom of the slow cooker, after adding just a little over ½ cup of water to the bottom of the cooker. This will help create steam and prevent the acorn squash from sticking to the bottom. The squash  was tender and ready in about 3 hours, and the house smelled amazing! We served it with a grilled salmon fillet and a fresh arugula salad. We ended up with beautiful colors and delicious flavor, and another recipe we are now adding to our meal planners. Next, we will be trying butternut squash!

Here are acorn squash’s nutrient facts: It contains beta-carotene, and is a good source of dietary fiber and potassium, as well as smaller amounts of vitamins C and B, magnesium, and manganese. A great addition to your plate!

~Carolina

Slow Cooker Acorn Squash www.onceagainnutbutterblog.com

Slow Cooker Cashew Acorn Squash

1 medium acorn squash
4 tablespoons of Once Again Nut Butter Cashew Butter
4 teaspoons of turmeric
4 dashes of salt
½ cup water

Wash acorn squash well, cutting off the tips and paring  it into quarters. Clean the inside and wash again. Add a tablespoon of cashew butter to each quarter and spread it evenly. Sprinkle each quarter with a teaspoon of turmeric and a dash of salt. Add the ½ cup of water to the slow cooker, and turn it on to high. Place the acorn squash in the slow cooker with the skin facing down. Arrange the quarters  at the bottom of the cooker and let them  cook for 3 to 4 hours. Check for tenderness to see if ready. Enjoy as a main or side dish!

Cashews: in the Spotlight!

Although cashews have been a popular snack and food source for a long time, almonds and peanuts really have taken most of the spotlight in the cooking scene lately. But all that is about to change — vegans and vegetarians have been experimenting with them for quite a while. Cashews contain more starch than peanuts and almonds, and therefore, when ground, the resulting nut butter is creamier and perfect for thickening recipes. Cashew butter, which Once Again has been crafting for decades, is rich and smooth but has a milder taste when compared to peanut and almond butters. These qualities make cashew butter a multipurpose ingredient to cook with in both savory and sweet recipes.

Lately cashew milk and cashew cheese have made their way from specialty food isles to the more mainstream grocery stores.  And this is fantastic news! The more people interested in discovering cashews, the more products and recipes we’ll find to experiment with.  Cashew butter holds its own when compared to other nut butters in the health category. It contains about 5 g. of protein in 2 tablespoons and offers a good source of copper and magnesium — both minerals help with bone, muscle and joint health.  Also, it has a good amount of iron and folate, which combined with its mostly unsaturated fat profile, makes it heart- friendly nut butter as well.

Once Again has several recipes (found here) using cashew butter: dive in and fall in love with them, if you haven’t already! Here is another simple, easy and superb recipe using Once Again Organic Cashew Butter: Chocolate Oat Pudding. This recipe started as an oatmeal recipe but quickly turned into pudding.  Adding creamy cashew butter makes it smooth and rich — just like chocolate pudding! There are two ways to prepare this delight, depending on your taste. Try both! Warm or cold: the warm way is quick and ready to eat right away, while the cold version involves the same process as overnight oats, that is, leaving the mixture in the refrigerator overnight. So you can eat this one as desert, or savor it on- the -go for breakfast.

… try cashew butter today,

Carolina

Made with Once Again Cashew Butter - Carolina Jantac

Chocolate Oat Pudding
½ cup quick oats
¾ cup cashew or almond milk
6 tsps. cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 ½ tbsps. 100% maple syrup
1 ½ tbsps. Once Again Cashew Butter

Add all ingredients to a jar with a lid (great time to recycle your Once Again glass jars!) and shake vigorously until all ingredients are well mixed. For the overnight oats- style version, just set the jarred mixture in refrigerator for at least 6 hours. For the ready- to -eat warm- style, transfer mixture from jar to sauce pan, and warm it up for a few minutes. The pudding will thicken as you cook it; for a creamy and thicker result, cook for at least 15 minutes. You may also use the microwave, as you prefer. If so, cook for 90 seconds, using that method. Garnish with coconut flakes and cashews.