Why commit to a single nut or seed for butter when you can have six in one?
Sweet cashews offset the mildly tannic walnuts. Macadamias are a rich splurge in all senses of the word, but they are so smooth and buttery, perfect for blending. Sesame adds its distinctive (and ironic) “nuttiness,” flax offers that hippie-earthy vibe, and because sunflower seeds can come off as bitter to some, a small amount adds to the creaminess and nutrition.
Like my homemade peanut butter, the raw nuts and seeds are first oven-roasted. Though not imperative, I urge you not to skip this brief and simple step — it not only brings out the natural oils to yield a super creamy, healthy spread, but also imparts a toastiness for maximum flavor.
Another similarity is none of the less-than-desirable ingredients often added to processed butters to increase shelf life, and improve texture and taste, including refined sugars, salt, a slew of preservatives + partially hydrogenated oils with their unhealthy trans fats. (The store-bought jars actually made with only nuts or seeds and nothing else? Expect to pay a premium. Better yet, go homemade for a better bargain.)
The difference, of course, is the combination of three nuts + three seeds for a flavor game that seriously ups the ante, not to mention you benefit from the wide variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants + other health-promoting nutrients of all six.
What’s in it for me?
Nuts and seeds in general are sources of both healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, as well as fiber, small amounts of lean protein and essential amino acids, and phytochemicals. Research links regular intake to reduced markers of inflammation, decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, improved digestive, immune and bone health, and potentially a lower risk for obesity, respiratory issues and certain cancers.
Soft and sweet cashews provide about 5 grams protein per 1-ounce serving (about 18 nuts), and are an excellent source of the minerals manganese, copper and magnesium. One ounce provides more than 10% of your daily vitamin K.
Walnuts are standouts for the plant-based omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). In addition to being heart-healthy, its anti-inflammatory properties are commonly linked to improved brain function, concentration and mood. A 1-ounce serving (about 14 halves) comes with more than 4 grams protein and nearly 2 grams fiber.
Though higher in fat than many other nuts, about 17 of the 21 total fat grams per 1-ounce serving of macadamia nuts (roughly 10 to 12) are monounsaturated fats. Macs are low in cholesterol, and are an excellent source of manganese, and a good source of cholesterol-lowering plant sterols.
Sunflower seeds rank highly among seeds for levels of polyunsaturated omega-6 fats, and provide nearly 50% of antioxidant vitamin E per 1 ounce (about 2 Tbsp). With nearly 6 grams protein per serving, sunflower seeds provide yet more manganese, copper and plant sterols, as well as antioxidant selenium and several of the B vitamins, including folate and B12.
Teardrop-shaped sesame seeds are rich in iron and calcium, and contain coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) — an antioxidant involved in energy production that may also play roles in treating high blood pressure and cholesterol, diseases of the eye, asthma, chronic fatigue, and possibly Alzheimer’s.
Rich in fiber, flaxseed (or linseed) comes in at only about 55 calories per 1 Tbsp (whole). Recent research suggests that flax may help lower systolic BP, thereby decreasing stroke risk up to 10% thanks to antioxidant effects from high levels of heart-healthy omega-3 alphalinoleic acid (ALA) + lignans — plant-based polyphenols, of which flax is one of nature’s best sources.
My depth-charged Mondo Butter is a feistier, roastier alternative to store-bought butters. It’s also quick + easy to whizz together, and 3 nuts + 3 seeds = a more nutritionally-dense spread. Slather it onto the usual suspects — toast, fresh fruit or veg — or try it added to smoothies, yogurt or porridge; baked into cookies or bars; or as a creamy, rich flavor base for spicy sauces, curries, hummus, Asian noodle dishes, or veg or green salad dressings. Six is better than one!
Tell me… Do you prefer your nut/seed butters to lean more toward sweet or savory recipes?
- 1/2 cup raw cashews, whole or pieces
- 1/2 cup raw walnuts, halves or pieces
- 1/4 cup raw macadamia nuts, whole or pieces
- 2 Tbsp raw hulled sunflower seeds
- 1 Tbsp raw sesame seeds (I used white, but black might be fun to try)
- 1 Tbsp raw whole flaxseed (brown or golden is fine)
- Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position.
- Spread the cashews and walnuts in a single layer on a large rimmed baking trays lined with foil. Roast 5 minutes, then carefully add the macadamia nuts and sunflower seeds to the tray (or place on a separate foil-lined tray). Roast another 5 minutes, stirring or shaking the tray(s) once or twice to ensure even cooking, until golden brown and toasty smelling. (Keep a close eye on them toward the end, as golden can turn into black very quickly.)
- Remove the tray(s) from the oven, and set aside to let the nuts and seeds cool for about 2 or 3 minutes.
- Transfer the slightly cooled, roasted nuts and seeds to the bowl of a food processor using the foil as a sling. Add the sesame seeds and flaxseed. Pulse a few times to get things started, then let it run until the texture goes from sandy and crumbly to a thick paste, about 2 to 4 minutes, depending on the strength of your food processor. Turn the machine off, scrape down the sides, and continue to process until the mixture is creamy and smooth, 1 to 4 minutes longer.
- Pour and scrape the butter into an airtight container. Set it aside with the lid off for a few minutes to completely cool before sealing. All-natural Mondo Butter should be refrigerated, and will keep 1 to 2 months in the refrigerator. To help with spreadability, take the container out of the refrigerator a bit before using to take the chill off.
A heavy-duty food processor is perfect for this task, but if you have and prefer a high-powered blender, be my guest. For me, the latter is too putzy when it comes to scraping the finished butter out.
Being made only of nuts and seeds increases the propensity to turn rancid. Therefore, any all-natural nut or seed butter should be refrigerated (up 1 to 2 months).
+ If you feel the need for salt or sweetener, start by adding 1/8 tsp kosher salt and/or 1 tsp honey or maple syrup when you stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl.
+ Spice it up with 2 tsp cinnamon, cardamom or a chai spice blend.
+ Go smoky with 1 tsp smoked paprika, or fiery with 1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper (depending on your level of heat tolerance).
+ Blend in 1 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs, such as rosemary or thyme, mid-way through the processing.
+ Experiment with different types of nuts and seeds, like almond, pecan, hazelnut, pepita, hemp, etc. Keep in mind that harder nuts like almond and hazelnut will take longer to process than softer nuts and seeds like pecan and hemp.
+ Give it an extra depth-charge with 1 Tbsp espresso powder and/or cocoa powder.
Recipe adapted from Faring Well.
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