DIY Gourmet Nut Butters + The WFFF Healthy Holiday Gift Guide!
The last couple of Christmases have been all about the stocking stuffers, for me. There's something magical and child-like about tearing into that big sock full of random magic. Since I'm an adult now, my parents don't get too worked up over the annual stocking. Besides cheerily setting them over the hearth and stuffing them with oranges and toothbrushes, it's pretty much an afterthought. That's a minor bummer, imo. Discovering those tiny nuggets of joy is my favorite part of the day! Besides breakfast, coffee and watching my nephew tear into toy after toy. So, to bolster our family stocking efforts I've been volunteering my services. My formal title is Senior Elf in Charge of Stocking Reconnaissance. Yes I gave myself that title. And I take my duties seriously.
So now come Christmas week I help my mom pick out tons of fun, sparkly and delicious bits and bobs to stick in those stockings. Usually that means a run to Trader Joes or Whole Foods, TJ Maxx and Michaels. I like to put together DIY surprise packages full of granola, rice krispie treats, or gourmet nut butters. So everyone gets something homemade and delicious. Other than that, I try to personalize each stocking with a couple of little gifts. White chocolate, hot pickled okra and star trek memorabilia for dad. Dark chocolate, rose beauty balm and a LOTR mug for mom. Logan gets a copy of Barista Magazine, a pack of Pamela's gluten free fig cookies, and a bean-to-bar chocolate bar. Most importantly, my three year old nephew gets stickers, coloring books + crayons, mini toy airplanes and Dragons Love Tacos. As for me, I just hope the (former) rents know to fill my stocking with all things fancy food! Cuz that's all that really matters. Hit me up with all the mini tins of sea salt please.
Before I get into the Healthy Holiday Gift Guide (scroll down past the recipes for that), let's talk nut butters. There are three pictured: vegan nutella, cashew maple and sunbutter cinnamon. I haven't perfected the sunbutter yet so I've only included the nutella and cashew maple. Someday I'll get that sunbutter recipe right! DIY nut butters make great gifts. Especially if you gift them in vintage glass bottles. For the bottle toppers I ripped out some pages from the winter Anthropologie magalogue, cut/ripped pieces to fit then fastened the paper in place with a rubber band. Then I wrapped them in some vintage velvet ribbon. You don't need to refrigerate your nut butters before gifting, especially if you're making them the week prior to gifting. But if you're making them way in advance you might want to refrigerate them just to be safe. The coconut oil in the nut butters will solidify in cool temperatures. But so long as you allow the nut butters to cool to room temp before gifting it shouldn't be a problem, aesthetically.
Hazelnut Chocolate Butter
Renee Shuman (Will Frolic for Food)
Chocolate hazelnut butter is perfect for gifting. It's also crazy easy and awesome to make all for yourself. You'll need a clean kitchen cloth, baking sheet and a high speed blender. This recipe yields about 1.5 cups of nut butter. So if you're planning on making a lot of nut butter as gifts you might want to double, triple or quadruple the recipe.
2 cups raw hazelnuts
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate (70% or higher)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spread your hazelnuts out on a medium baking sheet. Toast in the oven on the middle rack for 8-10 minutes, until fragrant and golden.
Let cool 2 minutes. Then pour the hazelnuts into your clean kitchen cloth. Fold the cloth over so that the hazelnuts are covered. Then rub the hazelnuts in the cloth vigorously to remove the papery husks. Continue to do this until most of the husks have sloughed off.
Place the still-hot hazelnuts in the bowl of your high powered blender. Add the coconut oil and 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup (depending on how sweet you like it) and blend on high for 2 minutes. Add the chocolate and continue to blend until the hazelnuts release their oil and the mixture becomes like a soft butter. This can take 5-10 minutes depending on the power of your blender. You may need to stop the blender and scrape down the sides occasionally until it all comes together. Once your nut butter has come together, spoon it out of the blender into your glass jar(s) or storage container.
Cashew Vanilla Maple Butter
Renee Shuman (Will Frolic for Food)
Cashew vanilla maple butter is dreamy, sweet and decadent. It's completely gift worthy. But once you make it you might want to keep it all to yourself. You'll need a baking sheet and high powered blender. This recipe makes about 1.5 cups nut butter. So you might want to double, triple or quadruple the recipe if your planning on making lots of gifts out of it.
2 cups raw cashew pieces
2-3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract OR 1/2 vanilla bean (split and seeds scraped from the bean)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spread the cashew pieces out on a medium baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden, stirring the nuts half way through. Let cool 2 minutes.
Place the cashews in the bowl of a high speed blender along with 2 tablespoons coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract / vanilla beans. Blend on high for 5-10 minutes (depending on the power of your blender), adding 1 more tablespoon of coconut oil as you need until the cashew butter releases its oils and softens. You may need to stop the blender and scrape down the sides occasionally until it all comes together. Once done, scrape the nut butter out of the blender into your glass gift jar(s) or a glass storage container.
The WFFF Healthy Holiday Gift Guide!
And in case you're a last minute xmas shopper like myself, I've compiled a healthy holiday gift guide of the gourmet food items you might make or buy for food obsessed family and friends! Particularly perfect for folks on that healthy / yogi / conscious eating train.
Edible Gifts from Will Frolic for Food
Sesame Tahini and Blood Orange Curd Sandwich Cookies (GF, Dairy Free) (refrigerate until ready to gift)
Mini Moon Toasted Cashew Butter Truffles (GF, Vegan) (refrigerate until ready to gift)
Grown Up Hot Chocolate Bar (GF, Vegan) -- so cute packed into cellophane gift bags and set in a mug!
Gourmet Pantry Staples!
If you're looking for a gift for a foodie friend who also happens to dig high vibe eating, look no further! These premium pantry staples would make anyone drool.
Premium Vanilla Extract
Berbere Spice Mix
Ras el Hanout Spice Mix
Premium Cocktail Bitters
Himalayan Sea Salt
Dried Porcini Mushrooms
Cold Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil
First Press Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Cold Pressed Avocado Oil
Cold Pressed Nut Oils (Walnut, Pistachio, Almond, Sesame)
Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Raw Local Honey
Premium Grade A Maple Syrup
Bean-to-bar Dark Chocolate
Organic Cacao Powder
Dried Wild Blueberries
Coconut Water Powder
Seaweed (e.g. Dulse, Arame, Hijiki, Wakame, Kombu)
Raw Local Bee Pollen
Fresh Medjool Dates
Vega Vegan Protein Powder (the cleanest & best tasting protein powder on the market and the only one I'll use!)
Matcha (Culinary or Premium Grade)
Premium, Single-lot Whole Bean Coffee
This is the blender I use for all of my recipes! Affordable, powerful and easy to clean up.
Everyone's favorite professional blender!
I use this to blend my soups, make salad dressings and whip just about everything. Super easy cleanup.
This is the juicer we use at home. It's low speed so it keep all of the nutrients in tact. And it extracts almost all of the juice. Plus it's easy to clean up, which is a huge priority for me.
Such an important kitchen essential. I use mine to make pesto, pie dough, and raw treats. I think I use my blender, immersion blender and food processor more than anything else in my kitchen (not including my knives of course!). It quickly grates and slices vegetables too.
Cooking is so much easier with a really good, sharp knife. I have a set of Japanese knives and they've saved my wrists.
Slicing veg is super quick and perfect with a mandoline.
Perfect for grain free folks! You can turn almost any vegetable into noodles. Also I just think spirilizing everything is FUN.
Where would I be in life without my skillet? Sad and alone, probably. I use my skillet daily. Every cook should have a good one. They're a lifetime investment.
I really love mini skillets for baking individual treats (dutch pancakes, brownies, spoon cookies). But they're also great for individual shakshuka!
I went for years without a doughnut pan. And once I got one I slapped myself on the forehead. Because they're wonderful and I wish I had one 5 years ago when I went through my doughnut phase!
Literally cannot live without this. I'm getting another set for myself this year.
Life is too short to drink out of ugly mugs.
Enamelware is super fun, chill and attractive for hosting dinner parties. But it's also great for food styling! All the enamelware ever please thanks.
We make our daily brew in a Chemex. And the ritual is the best thing about waking up early. I love the aesthetic of the Chemex. It produces the best straight up black brew, in my opinion.
After a couple of years using a really adorable hand grinder to get the right consistency in our coffee grounds, Logan started getting tennis elbow! Lame. So we got this conical burr grinder and it's saved his elbow and made our coffee process better.
This is one my list of xmas gifts for Mr. Byrd. It's really lovely to look at and you have more control over the temperature than a regular gooseneck kettle you would use on the stove.
We use this digital scale for coffee and for baking. I like it because it has excellent battery life and is less random about shutting off than other scales. It's affordable for the quality and stows away easily.
Surprisingly a lot of spatulas are made with shit plastic. These ones are good looking, sturdy and poison-free.
These are some of my favorite recipe books. I go back to them again and again. The recipes are flavorful, inspiring and exciting.
Vibrant vegetarian recipes with serious flavor. I've learned a lot of my culinary skills by cooking through Ottolenghi's many books. This is his newest volume of vegetarian recipes.
Heidi Swanson's publications were some of the first healthy eating cookbooks I ever owned. She's the original realness.
Much of my gluten free, vegan baking prowess was learned by cooking through Erin McKenna's books. Babycakes Covers the Classics is still my go-to after 5 years of baking from it. I'm very excited to bake some savory breads straight from McKenna's brain.
Gena is a vegan umami genius. This book is a fantastic foundation for plant based chefs and eaters alike. It teaches you all of the tips and skills necessary for making vegan food savory, filling and exciting.
My favorite cookbook of this year. All of the recipes in this book are approachable, nourishing, interesting and seriously delicious! And they're all foods I can eat in bowls aka my favorite foods.
My other favorite cookbook of the year! Sarah is a high vibe eating wizard. This book is full of creative recipes organized by season. Plus there's everything from breakfast to dessert. I'm completely inspired by the plant-oriented culinary magic in this volume.
This is a quirky graphic novel and personal story about the author / illustrator's relationship with food. There are illustrated recipes! I just like thumbing through this while cookies are baking. It's a "feel good" read.
Bryant Terry is yet another genius vegan chef. His recipes are so insanely delicious and next-level. I own Inspired Vegan, which is still a favorite of mine. It taught me the basics of developing complex and interesting flavors in my dishes. Afro-vegan is inspired by Terry's African and Southern roots. It's pretty spectacular.
I hope you all have a happy, safe holiday season! I'm so thankful for each and every one of you, friends and blog readers. This space wouldn't exist without your love and support! Just know that for me the greatest gift is getting to be a part of this blog community. Peace, joy and love to you in this darkest of seasons.