Being thoroughly acquainted with myself, and feeling relatively content with that acquaintanceship, I recognize I have become much too much a creature of habit—not too different from my fellow humanoids. I refer to my food buying habits—specifically nut products.
Eons ago I tossed the processed, hydrogenated nut butters out of my pantry and literally became a zealot for natural nut butters. I checked every ingredient label with the same scrutiny as Fuzzy, my cat who sniffs and rejects every new food I’ve tried on him. Only the purest roasted nut butters were allowed to grace my morning toast.
But I recently had my epiphany when I attended the Natural Products EXPO way back in March of this year, 2009 that is. I discovered a ton of nut products that peaked my curiosity. Out went the boring habits and in came a host of new items, still scrutinized for their healthful properties, but new nonetheless.
One of those products came from a company called Once Again Nut Butters that enhanced one of their many varieties of almond butter with flaxseed oil. Flaxseeds are loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids. Not a bad idea, I thought, since it’s an essential fatty acid that offers a ton of health benefits.
For several years I’ve heard and seen radio and TV commercials touting the benefits of eating fatty fish for its Omega 3 fats. Magazines and newspapers print articles pushing salmon as if it were the only source of these good fats. All I’ve read about Omega 3 describes the essential fatty acid as able to reduce the risk of coronary artery disease and stroke, boost the immune system, and reduce inflammation in the arteries. Those benefits sound great, but vegans are not amenable to chowing down on a plateful of salmon.
Instead, a compassionate soul like me has found a number of animal-free sources for this essential fatty acid—namely flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, walnuts, soybeans, tofu, canola oil, and dark leafy greens.
So there on the market shelf stood a jar of smooth almond butter with Omega 3. The ingredient label read “dry roasted almonds, flax seed oil.” Pretty darned pure, I thought. It passed the first test. Well, lights didn’t flash, nor did bells ring, but something came alive within and urged me to put it into my shopping cart. Then a surprising thing happened! I felt compelled to buy the jar next to it as well. That one was certified organic raw almond butter. WOW! Something wondrous was happening.
It was with the first taste of this OMEGA 3-enhanced almond butter that I experienced true elation. At that moment I believed I had tasted the sweetest almond butter on earth until I spooned the organic RAW almond butter onto my toast next to the roasted nut butter. It was sweeter still! That was a total surprise. I eat raw almonds regularly, but never thought of buying a jar of raw almond butter. Could it be that one taste is enough to create a devotee?
Inspired to the max I decided this fabulous almond butter had to join my family and me at the table not only for breakfast, but also for dinner. An instant flash of AhhhHahhh coaxed me into the kitchen, made me grab the jar of Omega 3 almond butter, and cook up an almond sauce with savory flavors perfect to spoon over the brown rice pasta I had planned for dinner. I aimed for a sauce that was well seasoned, thick, and creamy but didn’t expect the rewarding flavors that resulted. This sauce was so indulgent and rich in flavor, it gave a simple pasta dish an elegant gourmet touch. With the leftovers, I made a veggie Gado Gado, giving the dish a unique new twist. It’s usually made with a peanut sauce.
SAVORY ALMOND SAUCE
Yield: makes enough sauce for 1 pound of pasta
1 cup chopped onions
3/4 cup water
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup roasted almond butter
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons crushed toasted almonds
1. Combine the onions, water, garlic, and cayenne in a large deep skillet and cook, stirring frequently, over high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the onions are softened and become translucent.
2. Add the vegetable broth, almond butter, cumin, coriander, salt, chili powder, and lemon juice and adjust the heat to gently simmer for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. The sauce will begin to thicken in about 5 or 6 minutes.
3. Serve over pasta and garnish the top of each dish with a sprinkle of the crushed toasted almonds. Refrigerated in a covered container, leftovers will keep for about 4 to 5 days.
The sauce has a tendency to thicken as it stands. Thin it to desired consistency beginning with small amounts of water. Refrigerated leftovers will become almost solid. Thin with water and reheat over medium-low heat.