Monthly Archive: September 2010

Seitan tutorial

Ok this is gonna be a quickie because there’s no point in dragging it out.  Seitan isn’t hard to make.  It gets an unnecessarily bad difficult rap.  If you’re scared to try it, don’t be.  I’m a loser and I can manage, so trust me, you can too.

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Finding Vital Wheat Gluten is actually 75% of the battle.  Try Whole Foods or your neighborhood Co-Op or health foods store.  I usually get Bob’s Red Mill, but I’ve used Arrowhead Mills before too.

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The ratio of vegetable broth to VWG is the variable in most recipes.  It really just depends on how dense or chewy you prefer your seitan to be.  I generally go for a one to one ratio of wet to dry ingredients because I like my seitan like Jillian Michaels likes her glutes…packed tight.

Simple seitan

Wet ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce*

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 cup Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately and then add them together.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

*The main difference between this recipe and my other one is the amount of soy sauce.  More soy sauce = more flavor.  I should also mention here that if you prefer your seitan to be more juicy (and not as tough or chewy) you may want to up the vegetable broth a bit (1/4 cup extra should be enough).

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It looks hideous, but it will all turn out ok.  I promise.  Now is when you get out your frustration.  Make the ball your personal punching bag and knead, knead, knead.  There’s no real right or wrong way to do this, and it’s not like how much you do it will make or break the seitan, so don’t freak out if you haven’t a clue as to the technical kneading protocol.  The goal is to get it into some kind of shape that can be edible.

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The more you work it with your hands, the more dense (and thus chewy) the seitan will be.

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I usually form patties with mine, but you can make smaller nugget shapes or whatever.

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Place them in a cooking pan submerged in a bit of vegetable broth and cook it in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

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After 15 minutes, the top side should be browned.  Flip them over and cook the other side for another 10 minutes.

And that’s it!

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Time to go brag to your friends that you have just mastered seitan.  You may get some funny looks with an opening line like that…

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Mmmmm…

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Always store seitan in liquid (preferably leftover broth/soy sauce) otherwise you’ll look like a teething infant when attempting to eat dinner.

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Ta-da!

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If you’re looking for seitan ideas, there are plenty of elaborate recipes on the internet or in vegan cookbooks, but I prefer the simpler dishes.

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Seitan with stir fried veggies and chickpeas.

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Seitan in a whole wheat wrap with veggies.

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Hope that was helpful.  Let me know if you give it a try.

Nine two nine

It’s 9/29!  You didn’t think I’d forget National Coffee Day did you!?!?

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Not a chance.  I’m a tad behind in blogging because I’ve been playing catch-up around the casa.  I’ve been productive, but I hardly deserve a pat on the back since it’s all stuff that I should have accomplished last weekend

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For breakfast on Tuesday I had a bowl of One Lucky Duck grawnola, cheerios, and bananas on top of greek yogurt.

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Tuesday I got my running mojo back and after this bowl of deliciousness had digested I set off for a nice 30 minutes of jogging on the beach.  It was glorious.  I stretched for another 15 minutes when I got home, which was almost better than the run. 

Lately I’ve been into throwing curve balls when it comes to normal flavor combinations.  Like making foods that are typically savory into sweet dishes, and vice versa

Continuing the trend, for Tuesday’s lunch I toyed with the idea of creating a sweet hummus.  Sounds weird, right?  It took a looong brainstorming sesh, but I finally came up with a winning recipe. 

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Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.

Remember that delicious almond butter fluff I made a few days ago?  Allow me to introduce sweet almond hummus.

Sweet almond hummus

  • 3/4 cup chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup raw soaked almond butter
  • 1/4 cup water

*If you don’t have almond butter made from soaked nuts you could use 1/4 cup regular almond butter with an extra 1/4 cup water instead

Pulse in a blender or food processor until everything is super smooth.

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I dipped carrots and apples in it, and I have to say, it was pretty awesome.  As far as dips go, this one is really versatile because it can work for both sweet and savory foods.  Next time I make it I’ll use less water and see how it goes with pita wedges. 

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The afternoon was fairly snacky.  I had a berry MIX1 smoothie which was absolutely stellar.  It’s not vegan because it contains whey, but it is lactose free. 

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I rarely drink (a) smoothies that I haven’t made myself and/or (b) pre-made beverages that are more than 100 kcals (that’s an arbitrary numeric amount, but it’s generally about right).  That said, I felt like a thick and fruity drink.  What can I say, I don’t live in black and white and MIX1 has good smoothies that don’t leave you feeling like you just downed a sugar bomb. 

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Later I had 3 apples (2 galas, 1 braeburn).  Hello fall!

Dinner was a vegan quesadilla. 

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  • La Tortilla Factory whole wheat tortillas
  • hummus
  • Daiya vegan cheddar “cheese”
  • kidney beans
  • chili powder
  • paprika

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Beanie weeney (that’s for you Kailey)

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I smooshed the kidney beans then threw it in the micro for a few seconds.

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Fold and feast.

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It’s kinda like a new and improved crack wrap…more hearty, more beany, and all around delicious.  Plus the chili powder kinda gave my taste buds a run for their money.  Spicayyy. 

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On the late night I had some hummus with Livin’ Spoonful raw crackers.  I effing love these things.  I even order them from my own OpenSky shop because I adore them and can’t find them ANYwhere. 

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This was my last pack though :( 

On Wednesday, I got up early and celebrated National Coffee Day.

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Then I headed off to the farmer’s market.  This is basically becoming a Wednesday tradition since I’ve now gone the past 3 weeks in a row, with 2 Saturday trips as well.  I love the atmosphere and supporting the local farms, but I also love scoping out good deals.  I have scored bags of multi-colored bell peppers (that taste out of this world) for $2.  That said, I also think some stuff is triple what it would cost in the store (like the pears I “had to have”). 

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Fig had a mini-kitchen set up going on and their menu looked legit.  I’m going to have to remember to try the restaurant out soon.  Being semi-new to the area, I am continuously discovering good places to dine…when I got home and googled Fig, I decided it was right up my ally.  Add that to the to-do list!

Anyways, today I was supposed to meet a friend at the market, but there was a miscommunication and we wound up taking a rain check on our date.  I still came home with some mighty fine loot, which you can see in the bowl below.

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Pears, peaches, greek yogurt, oh my!

Not too much later I made lunch since I had to run out for an afternoon errand.  I wasn’t that hungry, but I didn’t know how long I’d be away from the casa. 

Round two with the Fakin’ Bakin’ tempeh.

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This time I cooked it in a pan with minimal cooking spray so it crisped up.

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Let me tell you, the kitchen smelled amazing…even better was the fact that the smoke detector didn’t go off (I don’t miss my NYC kitchen shoebox with a sink and oven at all). 

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On the one half of the sando I careful caked on spicy dijon mustard, half an avocado, and the crispy tempeh, while on the other half I melted some vegan (Daiya) cheddar “cheese.”

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In the words of Joey Tribbiani “put those hands together” (Friends fans?). 

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Yeah buddy. 

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I think I can get on board with tempeh if I keep making sammies like this! 

Anyways, I’ll post the rest of the day’s eats later, since I’m gonna work on the seitan tutorial you guys asked for.  Ciao for now.

Say yes to seitan

Heat wave much?  I woke up way too early on Monday because I was sweating my cojones off.  I’m not so sure fall has truly arrived after this past weekend of sunshine.  No complaints here!

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Despite the four fans and six open windows keeping the triple digit temps at bay, I still had my usual vat of coffee.  Can’t fight the addiction!

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See?  I’m still embracing summer with it’s seasonal fruit.  I am in love with the peaches at the Santa Monica farmer’s market.  We’re nearly out too, so Wednesday’s bounty will definitely include more of these delicious stone fruits. 

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As I caught up on house chores, I snacked on One Lucky Duck grawnola.  It’s a pricey habit to have, ordering from my fave raw joint in NYC.  I can’t decide if their online store is a blessing or a curse. 

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The raw granola (aka grawnola) consists mostly of nuts with the occasional chewy bite mixed in thanks to the apples and raisins. 

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I couldn’t decide how I felt about it.  I liked it, but didn’t love it.  I think there were too many nuts for my taste buds.  Let’s not forget I’m only a recent convert to tolerating almonds and cashews…so throwing pecans into the mix was perhaps a bit too ambitious.  I also would have preferred the raisins to be less chewy; I guess that’s the raw factor, though.  I don’t want to blow my minor critiques out of proportion though, there were plenty of good things to say abut the granola.  I mean, I went back for seconds so clearly my taste buds were doing just fine. 

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Mmm…

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For lunch I had a simple salad.  I’d say it’s a part summer/part fall salad, which is appropriate given the seasonally confused weather. 

To me avocados are a summer food (although in CA they are pretty much in season year round).  Pears on the other hand are a fall food, especially in a salad with dried fruit. 

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  • spinach
  • avocado
  • red bell pepper
  • dried cranberries
  • green anjou pear
  • balsamic vinegar/agave nectar

Delicious :) 

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For the third day in a row, I did zero in terms of exercising.  I felt blah (read: hot and unmotivated) so I really had no desire to get super sweaty…I know these phases never last long for me though.  Soon enough the fitness bug will sink it’s teeth into me and my inner cardio worshipping self will be back in action…I’m just hoping it will kick in sooner rather than later. 

That’s not to say I wasn’t productive elsewhere though.  I spent nearly an hour at the grocery store (finally our fridge is restocked) and whipped up a batch of seitan too. 

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I used a different recipe than I typically do.  Anyone interested in a tutorial?  If so, holler at me in the comments section and I’ll get on it.  Otherwise, I have the method I normally use posted in the Recipes/Tutorial tab above. 

Needless to say, seitan was on the dinner menu.

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I started with carrots and bell peppers, which I sautéed in a mix of soy sauce, ginger, and NuNaturals stevia

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At the very end I added the seitan (diced), and heaped on a huge portion of brown rice.

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Seitan sautée

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ground ginger (if you aren’t a ginger fiend like I am, feel free to decrease this amount)
  • 1/16 tsp NuNaturals stevia
  • 1/4 cup water
  • bell pepper
  • carrots
  • seitan (home-made or store-bought)

Directions:

Mix soy sauce, ginger, and stevia in a bowl and add in chopped veggies.  Add to pan with cooking spray and let it sizzle.  Wait for the soy sauce mixture to start to get sticky and caramelize in the pan and then add the water.  Once the veggies are nearly cooked through and the water has burned off add the cubed seitan.  Serve with brown rice. 

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Enjoy!

I may have had a few medjools stuffed with carob chips for dessert.  ;)

Husband and wife (part 3)

I never expected the wedding to get a mini-series on my blog, but the photos were too good not to share with you guys (I’m so modest) and your feedback has been so positive.  Anyways, this post is the last, I swear!  Plus, it’s all the fun stuff – the food, the drank, the cake, and the dancing!

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Here are the links for part 1 and part 2 if you missed them.

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After we were announced as Mr. & Mrs., the entire wedding party spontaneously huddled…

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Rally time!

I’m sure the rest of the guests thought we had planned our group pow-wow, but it was a completely in-the-moment-affair.

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Woooo!!

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Once we were seated, salads arrived.

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I got a feta-less version of the Napa salad with spinach, mandarin oranges, pecans, and a sesame vinaigrette.  To be honest, I don’t remember it at all. 

I do remember the main course though.  The chef told me I could have whatever I wanted, and although I truly wanted a vat of hummus, I decided to class it up a bit for the occasion. 

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I settled on grilled tofu, red quinoa, and seasonal greens.  Yummy.  Many thanks to Chef Allen for being so accommodating and producing this stellar course. 

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The guests options included vegetarian pasta, chicken, or prime rib. 

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But I’m getting ahead of myself.  After the salad plates were cleared and before dinner was served, there were speeches. 

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[Kyle’s bro, the best man]

Speeches are my favorite part of any wedding, but they’re even more special when they are about you!

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[Baby sis Marie, co-maid of honor]

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[Middle sis Laura, co-maid of honor]

My sisters both had brilliant and kind things to say…mostly about Kyle.  Ha.  But my dad’s speech stole the show. 

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He made us laugh, and at the same time, brought tears to the eyes of people who had never even met him before.  I cannot even say how much his words meant to me.

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I’ll always be his little girl.

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To the newlyweds!

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I think I had approximately 3 minutes to eat dinner, followed by 10 minutes to greet guests, and suddenly it was time to cut the cake.

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My “something old” was the cake topper from Kyle’s grandparents’ wedding cake. 

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Our cake was made by Katrina Rozelle and although I had a say in the design of it (I drew a picture of what I wanted the exterior to look like), Kyle made all the decisions when it came to the flavor (it was not vegan).

Naturally I needed something of my own to eat on our big day…

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See that cute chocolate cupcake?  That’s my personal vegan wedding (cup)cake…compliments of Whole Foods.  As if I’d have it any other way!?!

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Don’t even think of smashing that in my face!

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If you are familiar with weddings, the cake cutting is typically followed by the first dances (newlyweds, father/daughter, mother/son, etc.) and the garter/bouquet tosses.  I’m assuming you’ve had your fill of lovey dovey mush by now, so instead, I’ll show you the dance floor a few songs after those traditional ones.

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Our group was ready to get down and par-tay!

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Now where have I seen this before…hmmmm?

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And the we danced.  All. Night. Long.

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Just another day on the dance floor.

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That’s how we do.

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There was quite a bit of celebratory hoisting!

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Sometimes together.

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I wished the night would never end.  And even though it obviously did, I have memories that will last a lifetime…

Raw almond fluff

This was my first go at almond butter, and even though the result wasn’t what I expected, the nutty spread that resulted was still pretty tasty, and thus worth sharing.  Because I soaked the nuts beforehand, the consistency of the nut butter turned out more like almond fluff.

Here’s a photo essay of the process.

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1/2 cup raw almonds

[They have to be raw because the healthy enzymes are destroyed in pasteurized and/or roasted nuts]

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1 cup room temp water (or enough to cover the nuts)

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And that’s all.

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I left them on the counter to soak with the lid slightly ajar (to breathe).

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Even after an hour you could already see the water seeping into the nuts…

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As I’ve previously mentioned, soaking nuts is really helpful in easing digestion.  This is because the hard brown external shell on almonds contains tannic acid and enzyme inhibitors (which can be difficult to digest).

It’s a protective thing for the almond, but doesn’t do anything for humans (I was a biology major so these things fascinate me, but I’ll spare you a schpeal on the evolutionary process).  Anyways, the inability of the nut to release its enzymes interferes with the digestive process, thus making digestion more difficult.  But there are good enzymes in the shell too.  So what’s the solution? Soaking!

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I left them out all day…and overnight (~12 hours total).

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As you can see, the harmful tannic acid and enzyme inhibitors are being released, which makes the nuts easier to digest while releasing their full nutritional value.  Plus it makes them softer and easier to chew.  Soaking nuts also decreases the levels of phytic acid (another way to increase dietary availability).

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Look at all that sediment!

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After 12+ hours of soaking, the nuts should probably be refrigerated unless they are going to be used.

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I poured off the sediment filled water.

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Then, I rinsed and drained the almonds with cool water.

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Look how much moisture resulted from soaking the almonds!  They nearly doubled in size!

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While they pulsed in the food processor, I added in a tbsp of agave nectar to give the a very slight sweet note to the nut butter.

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Nut meat…mmm…

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I squeegeed the sides with a spatula, added less than 1/4 cup of the nut water, and went back to food processing.

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So fluffy!

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It tasted like a frothy nut butter.  It was light and airy and I wanted to eat it with a spoon.

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I taste tested a bit, and then tupperwared the rest for later.

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After time to chill in the fridge, the resulting nut butter was a light, fluffy, almondy spread.

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Oh so many ways to use you!!  Here are just a few of the things I did with my almond fluff:

  • spread on toast
  • dipped with fruit
  • mixed in oats
  • mixed in brown rice

Give it a shot!