Are you a peanut butter junkie? Yes, that’s a thing. If the thought of a peanut-butter-smothered-anything tickles your fancy, then you’re in the club. As a peanut butter junkie myself, I’ve come to appreciate the simple, yet complex, taste of peanut butter made from fresh, wholesome peanuts. Seriously, have you ever looked at the ingredients in most store-bought peanut butters? Many include partially & fully hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil, sugar, palm oil… yikes. With peanut butter being an adult- and kid-friendly staple in many households, we have to do better!
If peanut butter is your go-to but you’d just like to have other options, look no further. You can swap peanuts in this recipe for any other type of nut or seed OR a combination! Peanut allergy? No problem, feel free to substitute almonds, sunflower seeds, or cashews for a delicious homemade nut butter that’s sure to please! Looking for a cute gift idea? A jar of homemade peanut butter will make family, friends, and teachers smile.
I love knowing exactly what ingredients are in the food I’m eating and feeding to my family. I was so surprised at how easy it is to make my own peanut butter! The fact that peanuts are fairly cheap made this recipe a no-brainer.
Let’s talk about these nutritional powerhouses: Peanuts.
In a serving of peanut butter (about 2 Tbsp or the size of a ping pong ball) you get:
- 12 grams healthy fats (monounsaturated + polyunsaturated)
- These healthy fats are good for our eyes, brain, heart, and hormone production, among other things!
- 2 g fiber
- Fiber helps to keep us full longer, keep our blood sugar stable, and keep our bowel movements regular.
- 8 g protein
- Protein is necessary for our body to build and repair tissue, including skin and muscle.
- 200 mg potassium
- Low levels of potassium can contribute to constipation, fatigue, and muscle weakness.
- 10% DV magnesium & Vitamin B6
- Vegetarian & vegan
- Diabetic friendly
So how are love letters related in any way to peanut butter?
Well, back in February of 2010, Ryan volunteered to go to the United States Army Ranger School. We were about 6 months into our courtship at the time so his Army lifestyle was all still new to me. I didn’t realize then that Ranger School is one of the Army’s toughest combat leadership courses. It was over two months long and included intense, physically demanding training paired with food and sleep deprivation. Needless to say, he wasn’t going to be able to visit me or even call me at all while actively training at Ranger School. He said that he would be able to write and receive letters. Letters!
I wrote Ryan a letter every single day he was at Ranger School. I used brightly colored paper and put stickers all over them to bring some cheer into his life and maybe a smile to his face. He had told me that he wouldn’t be given his mail every day. I couldn’t bare the thought of everyone else receiving mail except him, so I wrote him every one of the 63 days he was there.
I received 19 letters from him and as I was sifting through them last night before writing this post, they made me smile, laugh, and cry. They brought me back to our early dating days when I would only see him on weekends that he wasn’t training. He’d drive down to Tallahassee with friends (I was in my senior year at FSU and he was stationed in South Georgia at Fort Benning) and his friends and my sorority sisters would hit it off. The first year of our relationship was a big party. Ryan had told me early on that he would deploy to Iraq when he was done with his initial officer training, so that was always looming in the back of my mind. I vividly remember conversations with my sorority sisters, late in the evening as we all huddled around each others’ bunk beds, where I voiced my concerns about dating a guy in the military. I wasn’t sure I could “handle” a year-long deployment. I didn’t think I could handle dating a guy in the military.
Maybe it was the poems he wrote me or the crossword puzzle he made for me or the itemized list of what I should look for in a grad school (yes, he included “me” on that list since one of my school choices was close to where he would be stationed at the time). Maybe it was how often he called me “sweetheart” or scribbled little hearts and kissy faces in the corner of those letters, designated by an arrow and “I kissed this spot.” Maybe it was the romantic lines in French he included with parentheses to show the English translation, including “Your Dreams are my Dreams” when he wrote about getting a puppy and our vacation we’d take after he returned. Maybe it was all of those things he wrote, but most likely it was because he is the type of man that would write those things, that kept me close to him.
So you may still be wondering, where does peanut butter come into this picture? Remember how I mentioned that an aspect of Ranger School was food deprivation? Ryan was hungry, very hungry, and often his letters would include fantasies of what he was going to eat after he graduated, to include Twinkies, a burger, and pancakes. He would go into detail as to why a certain MRE (meal ready-to-eat) was his favorite and he’d mention things he would want me to include in his care package (that they would receive at the end of the last phase). Included in the items he wanted me to send him were Red Bull and… here it comes… “cinnamon raisin swirl peanut butter.”
The moment I read those words I began to panic. As you can see, he wrote that letter on April 12th, which means I didn’t receive it until after that and I had to have his care package to him before the 25th. Back in early 2010, nut butter varieties weren’t a huge craze like they are now. I don’t think you could find honey almond butter or sunflower seed butter on regular grocery store shelves. Needless to say, all I knew at that time was I had to send his package with cinnamon raisin swirl peanut butter and I wasn’t sure it even existed. Three stores later and probably a few mmHg up on my blood pressure, I finally found the elusive cinnamon raisin swirl peanut butter, thanks to Peanut Butter & Co. I was able to put it in his care package and all was right in the world. He later told me that he and his buddies dipped Snickers bars and Twinkies directly into the jar and devoured the whole thing. I guess you can say it was appreciated.
That brings me to the reason I think of Ranger School any time I think of flavored peanut butter. Since my recollection of Ranger School includes fond memories of love letters and happy reunions, when I made peanut butter for the first time I naturally wanted to make a cinnamon raisin swirl variety. Ryan was the one who actually suggested it. Yes sir!
Underneath the recipe for homemade peanut butter you’ll find my cinnamon raisin swirl recipe. The first time I made it I ate the entire batch. I kid you not. It is so delicious. It took several, five to be exact, attempts to get it perfect. I hope you have more self control than I did so you can share your peanut butter with a friend. Either way, enjoy it!
Bonus, I’ve also included a recipe for Cacao Hazelnut Butter aka kNockoff Nutella. It’s healthier than the store-bought version, it’s chocolatey, and it’s delicious. Put it on a sandwich, dip your pretzels or crackers in it, or make the apple nachos shown below. Cue drool.
Homemade Peanut Butter
Ingredients (Yield 2 cups)
- 2 cups peanuts (raw or roasted, preferably unsalted)
- optional pinch of salt (if using salted peanuts, do not add more salt)
- If using roasted peanuts, skip to Step 2. If using raw peanuts, you’ll want to roast them before proceeding. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and place your peanuts on a sheet tray in an even layer. Roast for 5-7 minutes or until peanuts become golden and fragrant. Allow to cool slightly.
- Place peanuts (and salt, if using) into your food processor and turn on high.
- Each minute or so, scrape the sides of your food processor with a rubber scraper.
- In the span of 5-7 minutes, your peanuts will go from ground to chunky to clumpy to a ball then magically, it will transform into peanut butter. You might question whether it will ever happen, but give it time. If your machine starts to overheat, turn if off for a minute and continue.
- Once your peanut butter becomes smooth and creamy, turn your processor off, scoop your peanut butter into a jar with a tightly fitting lid and resist the temptation to eat the entire thing… or don’t, it’s up to you.
- You can keep your peanut butter in the cabinet if consumed within a week, transfer to fridge if storing longer.
Tip: Use room temperature peanuts to facilitate them releasing their oils. Since I keep my nuts in the freezer, I let them sit on the counter for about an hour before making my peanut butter.
Recipe inspired by Sproutly Stories
Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Peanut Butter
Ingredients (Yield 1 cup)
- 1 cup peanuts (raw or roasted, preferably unsalted)
- optional pinch of salt (if using salted peanuts, do not add more salt)
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon + 1/2 tsp to swirl in
- 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil such as canola or peanut oil, more as needed for desired consistency
- Place peanuts, cinnamon (minus 1/2 tsp), maple syrup, and vanilla (and salt, if using) into food processor.
- Turn food processor on high and each minute or so, scrape the sides with a rubber scraper. If your machine starts to overheat, turn if off for a minute and continue.
- In the span of 3-5 minutes, your peanuts will go from ground to chunky to clumpy to a ball. When this happens, slowly drizzle in the oil, as needed, to thin out your peanut butter until you reach your desired creaminess.
- Once your peanut butter becomes smooth and creamy, turn your processor off. Add the 1/2 tsp cinnamon and, without mixing, gently scoop your peanut butter into a jar with a tightly fitting lid. This will create swirls of cinnamon, allowing some bites to be cinnamon bombs in your mouth, while other bites are more mild cinnamon flavor.
Tip: Use room temperature ingredients to facilitate them releasing their oils. Since I keep my nuts in the freezer, I let them sit on the counter for about an hour before making my peanut butter.
Cacao Hazelnut Butter aka kNockoff Nutella
Ingredients (Yield 1 cup)
- 1 cup hazelnuts (raw or roasted, preferably unsalted)
- pinch of salt (if using salted hazelnuts, do not add more salt)
- 1/8 cup cacao powder
- 1/8 cup + 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup milk (I used whole cows milk)
- optional 1 tsp oil for creaminess
Tip: Use room temperature ingredients to facilitate them releasing their oils. Since I keep my nuts in the freezer, I let them sit on the counter for about an hour before making my nut butter.
- If using roasted hazelnuts, skip to Step 2. If using raw hazelnuts, you’ll want to roast them before proceeding. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and place your nuts on a sheet tray in an even layer. Roast for 5-7 minutes or until hazelnuts become golden and fragrant. Allow to cool slightly.
- Remove skins on hazelnuts by rubbing them together between a paper towel. You don’t have to get all of the skins, just the majority that comes off easily.
- Place all ingredients, minus the oil, into food processor.
- In the span of 3-5 minutes, your hazelnuts will go from ground to chunky to clumpy to a ball. When this happens, slowly drizzle in the oil, as needed, to thin out your nut butter until you reach your desired creaminess.
- Transfer your finished product into a jar with a lid. You should keep your cacao hazelnut butter in the fridge, as there are no preservatives and your nut butter contains milk.
Recipe adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie