Archive for the ‘Pantry Staples’ Category

Almond Butter

We use almond butter frequently in place of peanut butter – not always, but mostly.

Almond ButterWhy?  Well, there were a few things that caused our switch:

  1. I knew that the sugar and hydrogenated oils in standard peanut butters were NOT a good thing.
  2. I knew that there could be allergy issues if peanuts/peanut butter were given to young children.
  3. Somewhere along the way, we heard that almonds were better than peanuts and heard that there was such a thing as almond butter.
  4. I also knew that roasting nuts, like cooking many foods, reduces it’s health benefits and saw that there was raw almond butter available.

Soo. . .We started using it. Like anything new, it takes a little while for adult taste buds to adjust to the taste of non-peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But my kiddos ate it from a very young age and have no problem eating either almond butter or peanut butter.

I buy Maranatha’s Creamy and Raw Almond Butter.  It can be pricey (usually around $11 at my Kroger), but I watch for when it goes on sale (down to about $8.99) and snatch it up then.  When you consider that a jar lasts for about 20 sandwiches or so, it works out to about 50 cents a sandwich.  Not too bad for all the health benefits of almonds in a creamy (or crunchy) delicious form!

You can read more about almonds at the World’s Healthiest Foods website here.

And if you decide to stick with peanut butter, just read the label to make sure that the only things in it are peanuts and salt (if you want it salty).  NO high fructose corn syrup (in ANYTHING you buy!), NO sugar.  And if you can find it, raw would be even better.  🙂

Coconut Oil – it’s uses and benefits

Coconut OilI use coconut oil for all kinds of things:

  • Cooking.  (Olive oil, a heat-sensitive oil with a low smoke point, is better suited for cold dressings and sauces.)
  • Spreading on toast in place of butter for those dairy-free kinds of days
  • Dropping a dollop into our smoothies.  (When they hit the freezy liquid they become little balls of frozen tropical goodness and are Erich’s favorite part of the smoothie.)
  • Using on chapped lips in the winter or to soothe dry skin anytime. (A little for the pan, a little for my hands.)
  • As a creamy base to which I add lavender, eucalyptus, and tea tree essential oils.  I use this concoction in place of the petroleum-based Vics rub for when my kiddos have a cough.

I even have a friend who uses a mixture that includes coconut oil to wash her face.

The brand I’ve been using lately is Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, but I’ve used several others that I’ve liked equally well.  This one can be purchased directly from the company in a very large quantity, which ends up costing much less than the smaller quantities you can buy from a health food store.  (And shipping was free!)

For those of you suspicious of the health properties of coconut oil, let me share an excerpt from the Nutiva material that was included in my most recent purchase. (And for those of you suspicious of what a company says about its own products, I’m with you.  We have to be wise when someone praises something they are making money off of.  However, I have read these kinds of things about coconut oil repeatedly since becoming interested in healthy living.  Dr. Mercola, a well-known-mainstream-doctor-gone-natural has several articles on coconut oil’s health benefits.  You can take your pick of them here.  But his articles are usually long.  This is a good condensed version.)

The Coconut Oil Myth

Since the 1960s, coconut oil has been unfairly labeled as unhealthy.  The media cited studies implicating coconut oil as a source of artery-clogging fats.

What wasn’t reported was the fact that the coconut oil used in the studies was hydrogenated – not the virgin oil Nutiva sells.  It’s now known that the problem with hydrogenation is that it produces trans fats.

Coconut oil is free of trans fats and cholesterol, and rich in medium-chain fatty acids.  The body stores long-chain fats as fat, but readily absorbs, digests, and utilizes MCFs as energy.

So, go ahead and enjoy this great oil!