I love investigating new trends in food and recipes. Injecting healthy, but flavorful alternatives into my family’s diet without make a big splash about it, is my favorite way to discreetly shape the way they eat and think about food. I hide vegetables in just about everything and our kids are actually pretty good vegetable eaters, even when they’re “out in the open”. 🙂 But, there is more to nutritious eating, than just polishing off their broccoli. There are so many trends and alternatives in nutrition education, today. For me personally, I feel like my family will be the most healthy if we incorporate a wise balance of all whole foods in their diet and wean them off the processed food that has filled U.S. grocery stores over the last several decades. I enjoy studying all the trends, reading about the benefits of each special diet and finding the parts of it that might benefit our family. Thankfully, we don’t have any food sensitivities in our home, right now, so I gather my information from a wide range of sources and dietary trends. We enjoy some gluten-free recipes, at our house, as well as those considered paleo, vegan, or vegetarian. I garden and prepare most of our meals from scratch, opting for whole foods and organic when it’s possible. Our food choices and diets are evolving into healthier patterns, than those of the past. Regardless of the genre or trend they fit into, the food I give my family should create a balance of nutrition, textures and tastes that will hopefully expand the palates of my husband and kids, and contribute to them making better long-term eating choices, when they’re on their own.
One of the latest food trends I’ve been reading about is eating only raw food. Healthy, raw food diets are simple preparations of foods in their most natural states without heating them and causing changes in their chemical make-up, and therefore their nutritional value. When someone first mentions a totally raw food diet, it doesn’t seem as though it would even be possible, but with some further investigation, I learned how a healthy, balanced diet could be derived from this method. I was also pleased to discover that some of the recipes can be very simple and easy to prepare, as well as being foods my family will enjoy eating. Some added benefits are that it eliminates processed sugars and many of the unhealthy fats in the American diet. The book that I’ve been reading, on the topic, is The Simply Raw Kitchen and it’s been a great resource of information explaining exactly what a raw food diet would look like, a guide to helpful kitchen tools and a source of tips and techniques that will help you set up your kitchen for the transition to raw foods, as well as delicious recipes for preparing them. And if I’m not mistaken, the recipes are all gluten-free and dairy-free, as well.
Now, let’s be honest. My family will never be vegan, vegetarian, 100% gluten- or dairy-free, or even eating a 100% whole food, sugar-free, unprocessed food diet; and we won’t be eating a 100% raw diet, either. No way will we stop enjoying an occasional birthday cake or dessert, and yes, we may even hit the drive-thru on occasion for some french fries *gasp*, but we are learning to make those the rare treats and not the norm, letting healthy choices win out the majority of the time. Looking to all the different trends that are popular in foodie circles, right now, has helped me to understand nutrition in a new way and I believe will help me to inject a good-tasting, balanced diet of healthful foods into my family’s favorite menus, so that they reap the benefits without feeling deprived. The Simply Raw Kitchen has provided me with some fantastic new recipes to help me do that. One of the simplest was for nut butters. I don’t know why I haven’t considered it before. Making nut butters at home is much more nutritious than purchasing commercial brands that are often loaded with sugar, salt and unpronounceable ingredients. Plus, making them at home is a lot easier on the budget!
Look at this list of recipe titles: Watermelon Cooler, Shamrock Mint Chip Shake, Chocolate Tapioca, Real Tomato Soup, Sweet Corn Chowder, Spicy Thai Salad, Avocado Dill Dressing, Sour Kream and Onion Dip, Aged Peppercorn Cheeze, Rustic Rawtella, Homemade Coconut Butter, Pasta Primavera, Soft Taco Verde, Chili Sin Carne, Romanian Cabbage Rolls, Corn and Bean Skillet, Righteous Brownies with Caramel Frosting and Luscious Lemon Cheezecake with Strawberry Jam. Does that sound like anybody’s suffering? 🙂 I don’t think so! And that’s only a sampling of the recipes included in The Simply Raw Kitchen. Whatever your dietary preference, there are delicious dishes to please every palate and lifestyle.
The recipe I chose to make, first, was Hazelnut Butter. It couldn’t be simpler and now that I know how simple and healthy it is to make in my own kitchen, I can take it one step further and add my homemade vanilla, some cacao powder and maple syrup and create our own homemade version of that famous ___tella spread! Yum!
- 4 cups raw hazelnuts (substitute your favorite nut: cashew, almond, pecan, walnuts, Brazil nuts, etc.)
- optional seasonings (sea salt, maple syrup, cinnamon, coconut sugar, vanilla, cacao powder)
- Process the hazelnuts, in your food processor or blender, for about 10 minutes, until they are very smooth. (Mine took more like 12 or 13 minutes. Just at that moment I was about to give up, thinking I had done something wrong, the oils loosened up and my butter got smooth and creamy.)
- You'll need to stop and scrape down the sides, occasionally, with a spatula and if your appliance doesn't have a strong motor, stopping every little bit, will help to prevent overheating.
- At my first stop, the almonds had become flour.
- Next time, the oils from the nuts had started to cause the flour to being clumping together.
- After that, it was a large lump of thick, still pretty dry, paste.
- Finally, after about 12 minutes of processing, my hazelnuts were converted into smooth, creamy hazelnut butter.
- At this point, you can stir in a small amount of salt, vanilla, cinnamon, or any other flavoring, if you like. I used a Tablespoon of organic Grade B maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of homemade vanilla and a pinch of sea salt.
- Serve it with apple slices or veggie sticks, on crackers or even in a sandwich with homemade jam, which is exactly the way my husband loves it most!
- I stored my hazelnut butter in a pint canning jar and it should keep up to 6 months in the fridge, as long as no water is added.
What, if any, changes have you made to the way you menu-plan, so your family gets more nutrition packed into every bite? Do you follow one of the major trends in healthy cooking? Do you hide veggies in their favorite dishes? 🙂 Whatever your preferred method of cooking, The Simply Raw Kitchen can provide some simple, delicious recipes that will fit your family’s tastes and dietary needs.
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