Vanilla Cinnamon Espresso Hazelnut Butter

This recipe meets all the criteria (and more) of a great nut butter. It’s creamy, salty, nutty, and a little crunchy. It’s also subtly sweet with added elements of cinnamon, coffee, and vanilla. The coarsely ground coffee is what adds the slight grainy texture and crunch, and it’s magnificent. All in all, it’s a match made in heaven. I think it might be the best nut butter I’ve ever tasted — not even exaggerating. It’s out-of-this-world good! Enjoy it straight off the spoon or spread on apples, pears, bananas, or in my sunny cinnamon sammie recipe (instead of the sunflower seed butter). It’s also delicious drizzled into plain yogurt.

Also, note that I used decaf beans in this recipe, but you can use regular as well. I don’t like to consume caffeine after 12-ish p.m. and don’t tend to eat nut butter in the morning, so opted for decaf beans. Use whatever you like.

On another note, I’m off to NYC early this morning with my close friend, Heather. We have been looking forward to this trip for months and it’s finally here! We’ve got some fun things in the works, but are leaving plenty of room for trekking and exploring. We’re kicking off our trip this evening with, Sleep No More and I’m super excited…a little scared too! Be sure to follow me on Instagram if you want to see what I’m up to (and eating) in NYC!

Cheers!

Ingredients:

  • Heaping 2 cups raw hazelnuts
  • 1 Tbsp coarsely ground high-quality coffee beans (I used decaf beans from a local roaster)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (use 1/4 tsp if you want it less salty)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsp coconut sugar, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast hazelnuts in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until fragrant and light golden brown. Give pan a shake halfway through roasting time.
  2. Once hazelnuts are cool enough to handle, remove some of the skins (doesn’t have to be perfect!). It’s up to you how much you want to remove, but less skin will result in a creamier consistency (the skins can also be bitter). You can also place the hazelnuts on a damp kitchen towel, fold it over, and rub the skins off inside the towel.
  3. Next, add hazelnuts (minus the skins) to the food processor. Blend for about 5-6 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Once creamy, add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust flavors as you like.
  4. Store in a glass jar at room temperature and use within a week. Will last a week or so longer if you store it in the refrigerator.
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Harvest Bowl with Creamy Maple Vinaigrette

harvest bowl 3Tomorrow is the official first day of fall and to commemorate, I threw together this lovely harvest bowl. It’s filled with cinnamon-roasted butternut squash, chicken breast, apple, pecans, and mixed greens, and is topped with a creamy, dairy-free maple vinaigrette. It is splendid and I can honestly say it’s my newfound love. I will definitely be making it over-and-over again for a while.

I wasn’t ready to go full-on pumpkin spice mode and all that jazz, but I had to honor where we’re at, so a little cinnamon, maple syrup, and some seasonal goodies did the trick. Pumpkin spice can wait until next month. I do enjoy fall, but I’d be lying if I said that I’m ready for summer to end. I really love summer…like a lot, but onward I go with the change of seasons, and I’m taking this harvest bowl with me!

In other news, I will be making this recipe on KATU Afternoon Live next Tuesday, September 26. UPDATE: watch the replay of my segment HERE.

Cheers and enjoy!close up harvest bowl

For the bowl:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups leftover boneless skinless chicken breasts, shredded or cubed
  • 2-3 small Gravenstein apples or other variety of choice, diced
  • 1/3 cup raw pecan halves, roughly chopped
  • 5-6 cups mixed greens

For the maple vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp pure maple syrup
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp full-fat coconut milk (I used this brand, which is gum-free)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place butternut squash on large baking sheet and drizzle with the avocado oil. Season with cinnamon, sea salt and black pepper, and mix well. Bake in oven for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through. Set aside to cool once done.
  2. Add all the dressing ingredients to a mason jar and shake to mix. Alternatively, you can whisk it together in a bowl. If possible, make the dressing ahead of time to allow the flavors to marinate.
  3. Assemble the salad by dividing the mixed greens among three bowls. Then, divide the chicken, pecans, apples, and squash among the bowls. Just before serving, drizzle desired amount of dressing on top. Store any leftover dressing in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Yields: 3 servings

 

Salted Almond Caramel Dip

Apples and caramel, a fall classic, but one that hasn’t been in my life for many years. I always enjoyed dipping apples slices in caramel growing up, even if it wasn’t remotely close to being real caramel. It’s pretty gross, but I think the first ingredient was high fructose corn syrup. I remember it being overly sweet, but as a kid, that was okay with me. It was always the fat-free kind too. Fat-free, HFCS and chemical-laden caramel dip … yum?

As for the caramel apples on sticks, I was never much of a fan. I always wanted to like it, but didn’t care for tart green apples as a kid, and caramel apples were always made with green apples. What’s up with that? I also remember them being difficult to eat. I might like a caramel apple now if it was made with this caramel (I like green apples now too) and maybe even rolled in some chopped nuts or coconut flakes.

Since I’ve made caramel from dates for different treat recipes, I figured it’d be easy enough to modify a bit and turn into a dip. I went slow and adjusted the the ingredients incrementally, taste-tasting each time (it gave me an extra excuse to keep taking tastes too). The taste and consistency came out perfectly (or at least I like to think so) and Jesse even oooed and ahhhed over it too. It’s salty, sweet, gooey and thick.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted (heaping 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4-6 Tbsp water (I used 5 Tbsp)
  • 3 Tbsp smooth unsweetened almond butter
  • 3 Tbsp coconut cream concentrate (aka coconut butter)
  • 1 Tbsp room temp grass-fed butter

Directions:

  1. Add dates to the food processor and blend until the dates are ground up (might turn into a ball – that’s okay). If your dates are drier, soak in boiling water for 10-20 minutes before blending in the food processor.
  2. Add two tablespoons of the water and all the remaining ingredients. Process until smooth.
  3. Add in two more tablespoons of water and blend again. Add up to two additional tablespoons of water until desired consistency is reached. It should be somewhat thick, but not too thick.
  4. Adjust flavor to your liking and serve with sliced apples or pears. It’d be delicious spread on banana slices too.