Sunday, August 03, 2008

Delicious: Roasting nuts and seeds at home

We have a couple of great health-food stores near us where we can buy all kinds of wonderful things in bulk, including all kinds of nuts and seeds. I have been snacking on roasted almonds and pumpkin seeds that I did at home, and I bought some raw blanched peanuts, roasted them, and made my own peanut butter in the food processor.

If you haven't tried this, it's worth it -- your house will smell wonderful and the result is delicious, plus they are great without added salt or fat.

All you need is a cookie sheet (or two) with a nice deep lip so the nuts and seeds won't spill in your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the nuts or seeds in a single layer on the cookie sheet and put the cookie sheet in the oven. If you're doing small seeds like pumpkin seeds, check on them in about three minutes. For almonds or peanuts, check in at about 5 minutes. You probably will just want to stir them, and if you have two cookie sheets in the oven, switch them around for even browning. Then you'll probably have another 3-5 minutes before the nuts are done. Watch them carefully so that they don't burn! Burned seeds and nuts don't taste good and they smell even worse. What you're looking for is a little bit of browning and a rich, toasted flavor.

Once you take them out, you can leave them on the pan to cool, unless they seem in danger of burning. If they do, dump them out onto a platter so that they can cool in a single layer. Then store them in an airtight container.

Make sure to watch your portions of these, because they're definitely not a low-calorie snack, but they are delicious and everyone says this kind of fat is good for your heart.

To make peanut butter, wait until the nuts are cool and process in small batches in the food processor. You'll probably have to drizzle in a tablespoon or two of peanut oil while they're spinning -- the nuts don't seem to have enough fat on their own to make good peanut butter. You will probably also want to add salt. I don't add any sweetener but some people add honey. I keep mine in the refrigerator in a glass bowl with an airtight lid. It will have a richer flavor than most store-bought peanut butter and a nice brown color.

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07