Tag: gluten free

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.

Tahini Dipping Sauce

Compared to a typical American diet, the plant-based approach to meal planning is higher in unsaturated fats, fiber, usually has better nutrient-density and contains more vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. It is no surprise many people are interested in modifying their lifestyle to follow a plant-based eating pattern!

Perhaps the reasons approach to eating is growing in popularity is that it doesn’t mean going vegan or vegetarian, eliminating any macronutrient or even prohibiting certain foods. Plant-based eating includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, a variety of protein-rich foods such as beans, peas, nuts, seeds and soy. Dairy products, seafood, lean meats, eggs and poultry are also on the menu, but are not the focus. Animal- sourced protein becomes complementary to your meals instead of the dominant choice. It is also encouraged to minimize the use of additives such as salt and sugar to enhance flavor and to rely on herbs and spices.

Plant- based diets are helpful in reducing risk for chronic disease, but it does require some effort to look for some variation to your routine menus. It is not an all-or-nothing proposition, to get started you can simply choose a meal you eat routinely and substitute the plant protein for the animal-based one. For example, if tacos are on your menu, choose two different types of beans for the filling and skip the meat. As an alternative for meat-based lasagna, use vegetables only!

As previously discussed on a previous blog, the clear majority of people are overeating protein. Therefore, when changing to plant-based eating, they won’t suffer any side effects from perhaps a bit lower protein intake. Interestingly, plant-based eating often matches the same amount of daily protein intake. Beans, nuts, peas and other legumes are rich in protein and can easily make up for the lack of animal foods. As a bonus, these foods offer more than just protein. They have a much wider variety of nutrients and fiber, something you can find in animal foods. The recommended fiber intake is 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women, with all fiber counting to achieve daily goals.

If you are also moving towards plant-based eating, we have a fantastic sauce for you! This tahini dipping sauce can be used in many ways. For example, it can serve as a topping to roasted vegetables, as a dip for raw veggies and when thinned, and it can be used as salad dressing. Plant-based ingredients can deliver flavorful sauces that include an array of culinary textures and nutrients.

Tahini Dipping Sauce

½ cup Once Again Tahini

¼ teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of garlic powder

Warm water

In small bowl add tahini, salt, and garlic and mix well. Next, slowly add one tablespoon at a time of warm water to the mixture until the desired thickness is obtained. Suggestions:  3 tablespoons of water for a dip, or 5 tablespoons of water to use as a sauce for entrees.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Quinoa Brittle

Earlier this year, several better health and living news outlets reported the scoop about a newly developed urine test that measures the healthiness of a person’s diet. It is a five-minute test that measures biological markers in urine created by the breakdown of foods such as red meats, chicken, fish, fruits, and vegetables. This allows for the evaluation of a persons’ intake of fat, sugar, fiber, and protein.  Although the technology is fantastic to have, one wonders about the usefulness of having such a hi-tech and newfangled test. After all, isn’t a person’s nutritional intake more easily tracked by using old-fashioned food diaries?

Unfortunately, people tend to underestimate their caloric intake and usually inaccurately record the true picture of their diets. Since food records are an integral part of weight management, tools used by health workers when helping their patients, this test could aid in filling in the information gap of some lingering questions. Often an individual struggling to follow a plan needs an incentive. Some speculate that the perceived threat of their physicians finding out about their “slip ups” and “cheat days” may be enough to keep clients on track.

Regardless of how you feel about invasive data being used to track a person’s adhesion to a prescribed plan, we believe healthy eating must be made easier and much more exciting to ensure life-long, healthy eating habits. Often, such eating is associated with confronting flavorless foods, dull ingredients, and absolutely no desserts. But why not broaden the definition of dessert, in particular, to include more than just high-sugar, empty-calorie treats? When a post- meal bite includes ingredients such as chia seeds, flax seeds, quinoa, oats, and peanut butter, there is no risk of falling into a chasm of empty calories. These ingredients are filled with nutrients including fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy fats. They may complete the meal by delivering the reminders of one’s needed daily recommended micronutrient intake, while also satisfying a sweet-tooth.

Whatever plan you are currently following, or healthy habits you have adapted into your routine, go ahead and enjoy this  Peanut Butter Chocolate Quinoa Brittle occasionally, without any worries about  the uncomfortable possibility of having to “explain yourself” after a urine test!

Peanut Butter Quinoa Brittle from Once Again Nut Butter Blog

Peanut Butter Chocolate Quinoa Brittle

4 tablespoons of coconut oil

½ cup of quinoa (uncooked)

¼ cup of whole oats

2 tablespoons of chopped peanuts

2 tablespoons of flax seeds

1 tablespoon of chia seeds

1 ½ tablespoons of honey  (Maple syrup can be a  vegan substitution)

2 tablespoons of Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter

¾ cup of dark chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, 1 ½ tablespoons of honey, and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, and stir well. Now add the dry ingredients in any order you choose (except for the chocolate). Mix well and spread on a baking sheet using a flat spatula. The mixture should be about ¼ inch thick. Place in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, or until edges are slightly golden. Remove from oven and let it cool. In small bowl, melt the chocolate chips, and combine the other 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Pour over brittle mixture, and spread it out in a thin layer. Let it cool and set until it hardens. To speed up the process, place the brittle in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Finally, using your hands, break the brittle into pieces and enjoy! Any leftovers  must be stored in the  refrigerator.

Pumpkin Cake Bites

Magnesium is considered a major mineral, and surprisingly one we are eating less of these days. Dietary intake of this mineral has declined among those eating a Western type of diet, and a supplement may be necessary for some people. Over half of the amount of magnesium in our body is found inside our bones, and the rest in soft tissue such as muscles. New research is amounting to evidence of magnesium’s role in much more than just building bones. Its role in maintaining a healthy blood pressure, decreasing and reducing Type 2 Diabetes  as well as preventing migraine headaches has brought much needed attention to magnesium. Fortunately, magnesium can be found across a spectrum of many foods, including oats, wheat flour, black beans, acorn squash, almonds and almond butter! These are just a few examples of good sources of this vital mineral.

Since all our Once Again Nut Butter products contain  magnesium, we believe  it is another great reason to enjoy our nut butters in more recipes!

First, it is interesting and hopefully useful to you, for us to look at the new research  linking magnesium and diabetes.  A meta-analysis published by Diabetes Care looked at over 500,000 participants and showed a reduction in risk for diabetes type 2 of 14% with every 100mg increase in daily dietary magnesium intake. Then in 2015, another researcher looked at over 100 individuals with prediabetes , manifesting  low blood levels of magnesium. The research was published in the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolism with the conclusion that an oral supplementation of at least 382mg of magnesium daily improved glycemic status in people with prediabetes. More studies will continue to look at how we can prevent and reverse Type 2 Diabetes  with the help of nutrients including magnesium. But in the meantime, it is a good idea for us all to look at our own intake. Evaluate the possible need to adjust it to meet the dietary allowance, which is recommended for ages 19-30 of 310 mg/day for women and 400mg/day for men; and ages 31-50 of 320 mg/day for women and 420 mg/day for men.

It is not necessary to rely on supplements to meet the recommendation. They can easily be met by natural magnesium found in foods. A tablespoon of almond butter has about 45 mg of magnesium, one cup of brown rice has 84mg and 1 cup of black beans contain 91mg for example.

Although pumpkin season may have ended, you can find pumpkin puree year-round in the grocery store. Therefore, the recipe below is a fantastic option to start working on bumping up your magnesium intake right away by combining some good sources from  almond butter, pumpkin, and even maple syrup. For a paleo diet option, make this recipe  with maple syrup and almond butter only. For a vegan option, use flax eggs which actually worked out very well in this recipe. Stay with the maple syrup, but you can use peanut butter or any one of your favorite Once Again nut butters. Since  this recipe  uses honey or maple as a sweetener and no sugar at all or flours, it  is also diabetic friendly, and gluten free. The serving size is helpful aiding in portion control for those watching their weight and total caloric intake each day.

Pumpkin Cake Bites from Once Again Nut Butter

Paleo Pumpkin Cake Bites

1 cup of pumpkin puree

¼ cup of maple syrup (or honey if preferred)

¼ cup of Once Again Creamy Almond Butter (or peanut butter)

¾ tsp of baking soda

1 tablespoon of almond milk

2 eggs (or flax eggs)

½ cup of coconut flour

2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice

¼ cup of dark chocolate chips

In medium sized bowl, mix pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and almond butter. Once well mixed, add in two  lightly beaten eggs. In separate bowl, mix coconut flour with pumpkin pie spice and baking soda. Then add  the dry mixture to the pumpkin mixture. Once well combined, fold in the chocolate chips and place in 8×8 baking dish lined with parchment paper. Place  it in an  oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes. Once edges are golden, and center is done, remove from oven, and let it cool. Cut into small squares and serve as cake bites. Optionally, melt ¼ cup of chocolate chips and use as topping for the cake bites. Store in an airtight container for up to five  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.

Frozen Peanut Butter Bark

We are breaking all traditions with this recipe! Peppermint bark is a chocolate treat generally made up of peppermint candy pieces captured in white chocolate on top of  a bed of dark chocolate. We usually find it  in  stores during  the second half of the year as we near holiday season. There have been many twists on this recipe over the years, and quite a few of them include peanut butter. However, this one has just about one thing in common with the original bark,  well,  maybe two. There is chocolate in this version, and the last step of the recipe is similar since you break it apart to form large pieces of bark.

Perhaps the most dramatic difference between the original and this recipe is that this one sets in the freezer  and remains there to deliver a frozen bark that will certainly find a place in your recipe box right along  with your  other bark recipes. The best twist in this recipe is the fact that you can make it so very quickly. It takes just a few minutes to mix up the ingredients, spread it thin on parchment paper and place  it to the freezer. A few minutes later, just break it up and enjoy! Maybe you’ll be pleased to know this version of bark is much lower in calories than the chocolate version, so you can enjoy several pieces at a time. It makes a great snack too, so you don’t have to just limit it to dessert.

Our frozen peanut butter bark features  yogurt as its  main ingredient. You can keep  this recipe extra lean by using no fat or low-fat Greek Style yogurt, or you can have a more satiating snack by making it with whole fat yogurt. The texture will be thicker and smoother with the full fat version as well, but the taste is only slightly different.

Sometimes breaking the rules just makes all the sense, and the results are better than one can imagine! With  our version of bark, you’ll get a healthy dose of plant protein from the peanut butter, combined with the protein from yogurt.

If you don’t feel quite daring enough to leave all traditions behind, just adapt this recipe a bit. Instead of the almond butter drizzle, add in the crushed peppermint candy pieces to  the mixture as well as  the  topping. Just make sure the peppermint is nearly crushed due to the time it will spend in the freezer to harden. As with all our recipe creations, we love to hear what you’ll do with it next! Share your creations with us on any social media  platform of your choice, or in the comments below.

Frozen Peanut Butter Bark by Once Again Nut Butter Blog

Frozen Peanut Butter Bark

 1 cup of plain yogurt (or vanilla)

2 tablespoons of Once Again Crunchy Peanut Butter

1 squeeze pack of Once Again Almond Butter (or a tablespoon from the jar)

1 tablespoon of chocolate chips

Mix yogurt with peanut butter, then spread  it on parchment paper until you achieve about a quarter-inch thickness. Drizzle the almond butter over  the mixture  and sprinkle with  chocolate chips. Place  it in  the freezer for 45 minutes, and then break  apart  with your hands and place pieces in airtight container. Store in the  freezer.  This bark  melts quickly when left at room temperature. Enjoy!

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.

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?

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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.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chia Pudding

Did you ever wonder how people  first had the idea of eating chia seeds? Did they decide that instead of adding water and setting their chia seed pet next to the window they would add the seeds to smoothie?  Okay, it probably didn’t happen that way. But it is interesting that we were all so familiar with chia seeds but not as an edible  ingredient. To think the rich source of nutrients was simply a way to grow hair on funny clay vases for most of the 1980s!

Perhaps after flaxseeds paved the way, we were all more open minded to eating seeds on a regular basis. Chia seeds have become  a phenomenal addition to our diets. They are a source of protein, healthy fats, dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. They have a high concentration of the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid, ALA), making their ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 very good. Just two tablespoons of chia seeds will provide 10 grams of fiber, 18% of your daily recommended calcium, 35% of phosphorus, 24% magnesium and 50% manganese. Not bad for a tiny seed, right?

If you’ve never had chia seeds before, adding a tablespoon to your smoothie is a great way to introduce you to this seed. It doesn’t have much flavor on its own, but the seeds add texture. These mini- seeds absorb liquid pretty fast and become hydrogel capsules. You can compare them somewhat to the texture of tapioca pudding. Since they don’t have much flavor of their own, any liquid you add chia seeds to  will soak up the liquid’s  flavor. . Chia seed puddings are deliciously versatile ways to add nutrients to your breakfast or snack time. Of course we mixed the seeds  with peanut butter and its best match  chocolate. Set  them overnight in the refrigerator so that they have enough time to expand to their maximum capacity, and the results are deliciously refreshing!

A few other ways to enjoy chia seeds are as toppings to your salads, added to smoothies, soups or added to bread dough when baking. You can even use it to make your own jelly. Since they have this gel forming capacity you can skip the pectin usually added to make jams, and just add chia seeds instead. Combine fruit puree, stevia or sugar and chia seeds, blend well and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight.

This Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chia Seed pudding recipe was created as dessert for a “girl’s night” dinner with my friends. They couldn’t believe how beautiful the puddings  looked layered on the glass dishes. Some were a bit reluctant to try it when I mentioned the ingredients, but after one spoonful,  and they were sold! It’s sweet enough, but not overpowering, so you can add some chocolate chips on top  for a flourish . My children were ecstatic to see there were leftovers, since they are big fans of this pudding. Try your own version of chia seed pudding with your favorite Once Again Nut Butter, and let your family and friends rave about the tasty results.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chia Pudding

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chia Pudding

½ cup of chia seeds
2 cups of milk (of your preference)
2 tablespoons of Once Again Peanut Butter (Creamy or Crunchy)
1 tablespoon of cacao powder, unsweetened
Divide milk into two separate jars. Add half of the chia seeds to each jar. Then add peanut butter to one jar, and cacao powder to the other. Close jars and shake them for about three minutes. Place in refrigerator overnight. Next morning, layer them up or just enjoy them right out of the jar! Topping suggestions: walnuts, chocolate chips, coconut flakes or granola!