If I told you today’s almond butter recipe was the best almond butter I’ve ever eaten in my life, half of you would be skeptical, and the other half wouldn’t care. Actually, I’m projecting. I only know that if I were you, I would be skeptical, or I wouldn’t care. I tend toward the cynical. But in all my analyzing, I’ve found that we who tend towards disbelief are actually the once highly hopeful; it’s just that at some point, we put those high hopes into something (politics, people, friends, projects, ideas), and that something let us down. So then, rather than being let down again, we disbelieve; we say, “prove it”; we try to control what can hurt us by being highly choosy about what we let in. I get it. I do it. But the only problem with walling all new things out is that you miss some legitimately good new things. When you lock up your heart against hurt, you lock it up against love, too, like C.S. Lewis said. You lose out on hope! And, to bring it back to the almond butter, the thing is that I actually made and tasted this almond butter with my own hands and tastebuds, and I would swear to you it was the best almond butter I’ve ever had, even though I know that’s not quite proof (and I’ve eaten a lot of almond butters). Believe me or not, I say this almond butter has two key things going for it: (1) It’s soaked, for easier digestion and (2) It’s flavorful like a hurricane, coming at you with its salty, sweet taste in a way that makes you want to eat it on its own, standing at the counter with a big spoon. (And we have.)
The method for creating this soaked vanilla maple almond butter comes from the new book, Back to Butter: A Traditional Foods Cookbook – Nourishing Recipes Inspired by Our Ancestors, written by the duo behold Organic Spark, a traditional foods blog. Traditional foods are the kinds of food you hear a lot about when you follow Weston A. Price or Sally Fallon or read The Maker’s Diet, which you’ve probably heard us mention before. In a more subtle, less didactic way, they’re also the kinds of foods you hear us talking about or see us eating here.
At their most basic, traditional foods are exactly what they sound like—foods that have stood the test of time, not just from my grandma to me, but from ten or twenty generations ago. They’re historical foods, foods that are naturally rich in nutrients and prepared in ways that help your body digest them.
While some of the other resources about traditional foods are lengthy and complicated, Back to Butter is laid out in a pretty basic, user-friendly, easy-to-understand way, with two main sections: The traditional foods pantry (section 1) and traditional foods recipes (section 2). We like this because it feels so approachable, no matter what your level of familiarity with traditional foods might be. If you want a fuller understanding of why unrefined fats like coconut oil are so amazing, for example, this book will help. If you want detailed instructions for making homemade yogurt or soaking grains, this book provides the formulas.
As an example, today’s post features Back to Butter: A Traditional Foods Cookbook – Nourishing Recipes Inspired by Our Ancestors‘s method for soaking nuts. We used raw almonds, freshly sent to us from San Francisco from two of our favorite people on earth. There’s nothing hard about the process, but, like a lot of traditional foods recipes, it does take time—24 hours to soak and 24 hours to dehydrate. An impatient person like me (yes, impatient and cynical!) finds it best to spend the five minutes prepping the nuts at each point in the process and then forget about them in my mind—no more thoughts about nuts!—or I’d drive myself nuts (ha! get it?). After the nuts are done, you can eat them as they are or pureé them in a food processor like we did for my favorite almond butter to date. Flavored with fresh vanilla beans and a kiss of maple syrup, it is salty, savory, sweet, and addictive.
ps. Are you wondering why soak nuts in the first place? To reiterate the point about traditional foods, one thing we consistently see in ancient cultures is that they knew to soak their nuts and grains. Soaking breaks down anti-nutrients in these foods that not only make it harder for them to be digested but also inhibit the way the body can process their nutrients. Just as you’ve heard us say that many people who have a hard time digesting store-bought bread and/or gluten do okay with sourdough and/or soaked ancient grains like einkorn, so too many people who struggle with feeling weird when they eat nuts do better when they soak them first. As stated in the book, our ancestors might not have realized why this practice was so helpful, but natural instinct about how they would feel as a result led them to make it a habit.
Below, two recipes: A method for soaking almonds + a recipe for taking those almonds to make vanilla maple almond butter.
disclaimer: we received a review copy of this book