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07/02/2012

Guest product review: Jem Specialty Nut Butter!  »

In the uppermost echelons of the elite nut butter world, being raw, vegan, organic, local, and sustainable is not particularly remarkable. I’d dare to say superior ethics and health properties of high-caliber varieties of nut butters are simply what us highfaluting gourmand vegans have come to expect. Specialty Nut Butters by Jem Raw Chocolate are all of these things, but I must convey to you, dear reader, how uniquely wonderful they are—truly unlike any nut butter varieties I’ve ever tried.

The three flavors Jem generously comped me were Cinnamon Red Maca Almond Butter, Coconut Cardamom Butter, and Chocolate Hazelnut Spread. I come from the superfood enthusiast camp that believes that you can never ingest enough maca, a root vegetable native to the Andes with reported (and annecdotally confirmed) benefits of increasing motivation to engage in the making of love. Eat Jem’s spread and you’ll notice it’s easy to get in your daily dose of maca without the same stigma of “I want SEX ALL THE TIME,” traditionally associated with inhaling tiny mountains of pinkish-golden maca powder in the bathroom at Esta Noche. (Note: Please do not try snorting maca, at home or at Esta Noche).

The Cinnamon Red Maca Almond Butter is jam-packed with raw red maca and cinnamon, sweetened only with lower-glycemic coconut palm sugar. The taste is akin to a snickerdoodle laced with butterscotch. Highly recommended! Coconut Cardamom Butter reminded me of the time I spent a week at a Tibbetan Buddhist monastery. Instead of attaining enlightenment, I got sidetracked by the heavenly smells of cardamom simmering in fresh pots of chai tea wafting into the meditation hall. Learn from my spiritual weakness and bring a jar of this smooth, lucuma-filled treat with you to the next Vipassana retreat! Lastly, there’s the Chocolate Hazelnut Spread. I feel like a bit of a dolt reviewing a flavor of chocolate nut butter after my last word on the subject. The truth is, now that I’ve tried Jem, I have to admit that maybe I like Jem just-a-very-tad-slight-bit-only-the-tip-so-maybe-it-doesn’t-really-count better than Rawmio. I’m not sure though, and maybe I’d need to try both blends over and over forever to make a really unbiased decision!

Ways of eating Jem include spooning it straight from the jar, or enjoying it with fruit, crackers, toast, raw bread—just not with other less scrumptious nut butters, because I’ve heard that nut envy can lead to early onset rancidity. Take my word for it! Available online and in health food stores.

This is Vegansaurus raw correspondent Sarah E. Brown’s latest post! Read more by Sarah on Vegansaurus, and visit her personal blog, Queer Vegan Food.

04/27/2012

Guest Product Review: Living Tree Raw Almond Butter!  »

There’s something timeless and wonderful about the taste of almonds that no other seed or nut butter could ever match. But hot dang, that ish is expensive! Anyone who’s bought almond butter recently knows that there’s quite a significant price jump between peanut butter and almond butter ($5 to $10 sometimes!), and an even greater price gap between roasted and raw varieties of almond butter. You could easily pay $7 to $10 more for raw almond butter! In these tough times, that’s a lot of dough to spend on butter!

In my opinion, shelling out for more expensive almond butter isn’t usually worth it. I mean, we have nonprofit jobs, families and gender-queer allies to feed! That said, I believe splurging now and then for raw, sprouted, organic, non-GMO almond butter from Living Tree is just about the healthiest and tastiest decision you could make!

While I don’t think heated nut fats will kill you, I do believe that sprouted nut butters taste better and are the only legit way to know you’re eating truly raw almonds. Sprouting almonds before grinding them into nut butter is one of the most labor-intensive and debated practices in the nut butter business. In order to call your food “living,” some say nut butters have to be sprouted. California has some pretty tough laws when it comes to heating almonds, even those that are organic and labeled “raw.” I am pretty sure the most common source of “truly raw almonds” are imported from Italy.

That means that raw almond butter could basically refer to many different levels of “rawness,” and the only real way you can really tell if an almond is raw or living is if it sprouts. Living Tree Sprouted almond butter is definitely raw, and is an incredible hybrid between chunky and smooth. It feels like a totally different almond butter. It’s incredibly fluffy, like eating an almond cloud, with little grains of sand flowing into your mouth and heart.

If you’re going to dump tons of almond butter into a raw pad thai recipe or use it as the base of an almond butter and jelly sandwich, then you can choose whatever brand/roasted/raw variety you see fit. But if you’re going to invite your snobby raw correspondent over for a spot of green tea and raw crumpets, I would be ever so delighted if you served Living Tree Sprouted Almond Butter!

UPDATE: I found out from Living Tree that their organic, “alive” almond butter is only raw, not sprouted. They only purchase almonds from local organic California family farmers, and have been working with the same farmers for more than 15 years.

Instead of actually sprouting the almonds, they instead make the almond butter over several days. The key difference in their process is that they slice and never grind the almonds. After this, they let the mixture rest overnight, and slice again the next day. This is why their almond butter tastes so fluffy, and they believe it preserves the health content of the nuts.

[Photo courtesy of Living Tree, which sent me a complimentary jar of the almond butter.]

This is Vegansaurus raw correspondent Sarah E. Brown’s latest post! Read more by Sarah on Vegansaurus, and visit her personal blog, Queer Vegan Food.

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