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FRESH IN: Make-it-yourself Nut Butters

If you’ve ever tried “natural” peanut butter, you know what a difference it makes when all the extra sugars and preservatives are stripped away, leaving just the natural, true flavor of the nuts.

To me, that’s the big draw of the self-made nut butters in our bulk department. Choose peanut, pecans, almonds or organic almonds, put them in the grinder, and in a flash, you have freshly ground nut butter. You can’t get much fresher, or more natural, than that.

Of course, because there’s no added sugar or oil, the texture and taste may be a bit different than you’re used to, if you normally eat commercial nut butters. I like to add a splash of sweetener to the nut butters I use for  sandwiches or snacks.  We offer honey, agave nectar and maple syrup in our bulk department so if you don’t think you have the right sweetener on hand at home, ask one of  our healthy living experts to help you pick out a small quantity you can add at home.

If I’m planning on cooking with the nut butter, I might add a little olive oil. (We also have olive oil right in the  bulk department, if you don’t normally have it at home.)  Ask one of the friendly staffers in the bulk department for assistance or tips, especially if it’s your first time.

But I also like the nut butters just the way they are, especially for recipes like this African-inspired peanut stew.

African Peanut Stew
Serves 4-6

5 Tbs peanut oil, divided
1 1/4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken, cut into one-inch pieces (breasts or thighs)
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
3 bunches scallions, white part only, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 jalapeños, sliced
1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbs chili powder
2 cups diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup freshly ground peanut butter, no sugar added
up to 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Rub chicken with lemon juice and sprinkle with sea or kosher salt. Set aside for 10 minutes. In large saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons peanut oil over medium heat, then add chicken. Brown chicken, then remove chicken pieces from pan and set aside.

In same pan, add two tablespoons peanut oil and heat over medium heat. Add scallions, onion, peppers and jalapeno, and cook until tender.

Add garlic, ginger and chili powder and cook for two to three minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 cups peeled tomatoes and chicken stock and simmer for five minutes.

Add natural peanut butter, stirring well to combine. If desired, add red chili flakes.

Reduce heat to low. Return chicken to mixture and simmer until chicken is tender, at least 30 minutes.