Some addictions are okay to have. Like, for example, nut butters. Until about a year ago, I was addicted to peanut butter because it goes well on just about everything…crackers, bread, ice cream, popcorn. As a kid, my favorite sandwich was peanut butter, honey and raisin. Fortunately, I married someone who loves PB almost as much as I do.
But you won’t find any of that mainstream slimy PB with sugar or hydrogenated oils in our house….only the real stuff — just peanuts and salt. Smooth. And yeah, you have to stir it up before you spread it but hey, it tastes MUCH better.
True to form, our oldest daughter inherited that love. All the way through third grade, she packed her lunch every single day. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The only variation was the type of jelly or jam, which could range from strawberry to raspberry to peach.
Along comes daughter number two. Surely she would share our love for PB. But no. Her very blue eyes in a family of brown/hazel should have been a clue that she would veer from the course we three were following. Try as we might, the only item with peanut butter as an ingredient that would cross her lips were honey milk balls, an amazing concoction of peanut butter, honey, oats and powdered milk (see recipe below).
Fast forward 26 years. Daughter number two and I are perusing the various nut butters in Trader Joe’s. She tells me that her tastes are changing as she gets older and admits that she actually likes peanut butter now. So we started comparing the various nut butters and I realized that like every other store I’ve checked, they don’t carry my new addiction — walnut butter.
About a year ago, my mom and my friend, Mary, introduced me to homemade walnut butter. There weren’t a lot of foods that interested me at the time — I was still recovering from abdominal surgery — but walnut butter appealed to me. I decided to learn to make it, which involved finally learning to use my 30-year-old Cuisinart.
Once I mastered that, I haven’t turned back. I buy walnuts in bulk, dump them in the Cuisinart, add about 1/2 teaspoon salt, and turn it on. About 10 minutes later, I’ve got smooth walnut butter. Which, by the way, goes really well with cinnamon raisin bread (see recipe for bread machine below).
Okay, so like most nuts, walnuts are high in fat. However, like salmon and flaxseed, they’re also high in Omega 3, which among other things can lower the amount of lipids (fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides) circulating in the bloodstream and reduce inflammation throughout the body. So like everything else…eat them in moderation.
Honey Milk Balls
(Makes 2 dozen)
Combine in bowl:
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. peanut butter (try this with walnut or almond butter)
1 c. dry milk powder
1 c. uncooked rolled oats
Mix well, then knead by hand until blended. Shape into small balls.
Cinnamon Raisin Bread
(For bread machine)
3/4 c. very warm water
1/4 c. applesauce
1/2 c. raisins (Monukkah raisins or other sticky ones, work best)
1 tbsp. olive or canola oil
1 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 tbsp. yeast
Put first eight ingredients into bread machine in the order listed above. Make an indentation on the top of the ingredients and add yeast to indentation.
Set machine according to manufacturer’s instructions for baking. I prefer to bake this recipe on the one-hour setting, but that will depend on your machine.