Saturday, July 11, 2015

Breadless Butter Snacks! Part 1

I have always adored butter. (Yes, as one of my sisters will gladly tell you, my nickname even used to be Butter-Ball, mainly because of an incident that occurred when I was about 18 months old.)

While learning about food and discovering that whole grains are not the miracle of healthfulness that most proclaim they are, I have simultaneous learned that butter is actually extremely beneficial and important to a healthful diet. (Did I used to say things went together like bread and butter? Looks like I need a new adage.)

Of course, when you find the need to reduce, or eliminate grains from your diet, you will find that there are A LOT of bread-type recipes that are grain free, and these are obviously quite helpful, and awesome in their own right, especially as you begin a difficult transition away from the crumby, carb-heavy diet that most Americans consume.

In fact, I will be sharing some of my favorite grain free, bread-type recipes here shortly, but today I want to talk about something new. A complete freedom from your previous dependence on bread. Especially in regards to enjoying butter.

When my nutritionist first told me how important eating butter was, he pointed out to me that one of it's main benefits is that the amino acids in butter help us to absorb vitamin D. He suggested that any time I come inside from being out in the sun, I should not only drink water to stave off dehydration, but I should get myself a piece of bread and really slather it with some butter to help me absorb and use all the vitamin D that my skin had just created. Of course, this was before I started noticing the correlation between my digestive problems and grain based foods like bread.

So, in trying to continue following the doctors orders, but avoid any uncomfortable gastric problems, I decided it was time to get a little bit creative and come up with new ways to enjoy one of my favorite condiments. Butter.

Of course, one could obviously melt it into sauces, soups and over hot veggies, but I have always loved the flavor, texture and consistency of room temperature or slightly chilled butter.

Here is one of my absolute favorite ways to enjoy a snack with some soft creamy butter!

Spiced Butter Dip & Raw Carrots:

I believe the inspiration for this one came from a carrot cake craving that hit me a couple of years ago.
I began to wonder if I could still enjoy the flavors of carrot cake without the effort of baking (and of course without involving grains.) Somehow it came to me that if I made a dip out of the same spices that go into a carrot cake, then ate it with a raw carrot, it would be just as yummy. It is.

Since I've been doing this for a couple of years now, I've had plenty of time to experiment with the recipe, though truth be told, I never measure anymore, so giving you exact measurements would be iffy.
I usually will mix some of this goodness up in a small ramekin using roughly, a couple of tablespoons of soft butter. Sometimes I've also added coconut oil to the base, sometimes I don't. Then I've sweetened and spiced it to fit my current mood.

As you can see by the photos that I've taken over the past couple of years, the consistency can change depending on how much of each ingredient I add. Sometimes I've wanted a lighter flavor so I've added less honey and more coconut oil. It all depends on what I want the end result to be.
But the bottom line is, the measurements are of secondary concern. The results are always scrumptious.

In fact, last year I began eating so many carrots (Organic Carrots are available at our Costco, $5.99 for 10 lbs) because of this recipe, that I really did turn orange. Luckily, I'm so fair it doesn't really show much. You can only really tell if you look at the callouses on the edge of my palms.

I've also called it different names as time has gone on. At first it was 'Carrot-Cake-Batter dip,' but this seemed a bit misleading, and then I started to miss the flavor of ginger snaps and so I stopped adding raisins and went heaver on the ginger and the coconut sugar. (See first Photo) So then I called it 'Gingerbread dip' or  'Ginger Snap Dip.' Yet, again this seemed misleading. Because my dip does not contain batter, bread or cookies, it merely tastes like those things, I finally had to admit that Spiced Butter Dip is the most accurate name.

Spiced Butter Dip

Room Temperature Butter (Grassfed would of course be ideal)
Organic Coconut Oil (Either melted or thicker, doesn't really matter)
Raw Local Honey (To Taste)
Organic Coconut Sugar (To Taste)
About a 1 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, more or less.
About 1 to 1/2 a teaspoon of ground ginger " "
A sprinkle or two of any of the following as desired:
      * Ground Cloves
      * Cardamom
      * Allspice
      * Nutmeg
About a tablespoon of raisins, (opt.)
A sprinkle of sea salt is desired to enhance flavors (especially if your butter is unsalted.)

Mix together and enjoy with a fresh raw carrot or two!

Bonus Note:

I've tried this dip with apple slices as well, but I prefer it with carrots. The apples with a sweet dip seem a bit too sweet for me still.

However, I have also made the same dip and substituted Cream Cheese for the butter and that is extremely tasty with both carrots and apples. Especially apples because of the flavor contrast.

It's a really good flavor combo for carrots though because it's kind of like the cream cheese frosting one finds on a carrot cake. But I still find myself going back to the butter based dip for carrots because it is truly delicious and the goal is also to be getting my butter in. Thanks to some spices and a raw carrot, this is far easier than pie.