You may think that all nut butters are created equally – and that if you’ve tried one, you know how another is going to taste. I mean, if you have tried roasted almond butter, you know how it tastes. Then, you try raw almond butter, which tastes different… but another raw almond butter is going to taste the same, right?
Not quite! I love raw almond butter (far more than roasted), and often dip into it in the evenings. One day I see a deal on Vegan Cuts for “JEM Raw Chocolate nut butters”. I have supported Vegan Cuts since they began, they are somewhat like ‘Groupon’, but their deals are 100% vegan – and fabulous! You can find deals on vegan clothing, footwear, cosmetics, skincare, food, and more – and their customer service is stellar. Every time I have emailed with a question, they respond promptly and are very helpful. I have purchased a few things from Vegan Cuts, including the Just Pure Foods sampler pack (delicious!) and the Simply Straws set (our girls are BIG fans of these straws). Recently, I was fortunate to receive a sample pack of one of each of the JEM nut butters to sample and review.
JEM Raw Chocolate has been created by a group of independent artisans and a nutritionist, that make healthy raw nut butters AND chocolate (DO check out the chocolate) with high quality raw organic ingredients. There is NO gluten, dairy, soy or processed sugar, and they are are GMO free and fair trade. They have four flavors, and each is fantastically delicious! They are certainly a ‘splurge’ item, but you are worth it, dang it! I’ll tell you our favorites (if I have to choose)…
Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
I have tried quite a few chocolate hazelnlut butters. What I find is that the taste of the hazelnuts is usually TOO strong, it overwhelms the cocoa and typically the nut butter is too gritty-sugary sweet as well. Because this is a raw butter, the hazelnuts are not roasted, so the flavor is more muted, and, for my tastebuds far more enjoyable.
Cinnamon Red Maca Almond Butter
Ding! Ding! We have a favorite here. While ALL the nut butters are outstanding (truly they are), if I have to choose 1 or 2 top flavors – this is one. And, I wasn’t the only judge. Our daughters went WILD for this flavor. So much that they ask for it as a treat… “mom, can we have the maca nut butter, please?”… Gosh, I feel so guilty for hoping they don’t ask – I want to hoard it for myself. Here’s the odd thing – I normally find the taste of maca unpleasant. I have tried adding maca powder to smoothies, and can use it only very sparingly because the flavor is so strong for me. Here, I don’t taste it at all. Instead, the warm and sweet cinnamon flavor predominates and marries perfectly with the raw almonds and natural sweetener. It is PURE heaven, this nut butter.
Maqui Camu Super Berry Butter
Confession: I tricked our daughters with this one. As many of you know, one of our girls does not like berries and will not eat anything with berries in it. BUT, she does love cocoa and chocolate. This nut butter has such a faint berry taste and a dark color that I passed it off as a chocolate variety. So, I asked her if she wanted to try one of the chocolate nut butters. I spread it on a whole-grain snack bread and topped it with sliced pears and she said “wow, yummy!” (Shhhh, don’t tell her!) JEM uses two super-berries from Patagonia and the Andes in this butter, and the flavor is beautiful – as I said, a faint berry flavor combine with the almond butter (that is magically dark enough for chocolate trickery).
Coconut Cardamom Almond Butter
Ding! Ding! Another favorite. I am a fan of cardamom, for both savory and sweet recipes. I have used it in desserts for years (such as Apple-Cardamom Cake & Hazelnut Cardamom Cookies from Vive le Vegan!) so I was immediately attracted to this combination. The flavor of the coconut is subtle in this blend, you mostly taste the almonds and cardamom along with the sweetness from the coconut sugar.
Because I love cardamom and well, love it in desserts, I decided to create a fresh, raw, healthy pudding using this JEM nut butter. This time of year desserts can be very heavy and rich, and typically involving chocolate, caramel, creams and the like. While raspberries are not in season right now, most of us use organic frozen berries through the winter. I knew the flavor of raspberries and cardamom would be bright and vibrant together, so I used frozen raspberries. But, feel free to try frozen strawberries… OR try frozen blueberries with the Maqui Camu Super Berry Butter!
The method is simple – everything into the blender. I use my Blendtec, and because this isn’t a large batch, I opt for the Twister Jar because it handles small batches very well. If you don’t have the Twister Jar, the standard jar works fine too – just needs a little extra coaxing. If you don’t have a Blendtec, then double the batch and use a standard blender. You may need to add a little non-dairy milk to get the mix moving – I have a note in the recipe for this modification. (If you are loving raw desserts, sauces, dressings, smoothies, etc, then you owe it to yourself to get a rambo blender.)
Our eldest daughter LOVED this pudding (so do I). Guess what? Our berry-averse daughter wouldn’t try it. And, because our youngest is somehow freaked out by most puddings, she didn’t give it a try either. You can trust the two people that DID eat it… it’s a JEM of a pudding.
Jem of a Rasperry Banana Pudding raw, gluten-free, oil-free, soy-free
This raw pudding is bright and vibrant-tasting, and boasts a cherry pink color. Perfect for anytime of the year as it uses frozen raspberries. Bonus: you can make this pudding faster than you can read this recipe!
1 cup ripe sliced banana (see note)
1 cup frozen organic raspberries
1 1/2 – 2 tbsp Jem Coconut Cardamom Almond Buttter (or plain raw almond butter, see note to substitute)
2 tsp white chia seeds
1/2 – 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
pinch or two of salt
2-3 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
Using a high-powered blender (or standard blender, see note), add all ingredients except coconut. Puree on a high speed for a minute or so until fully blended and smooth – do not blend too long as it will heat up the mixture. Stir in optional coconut, transfer to serving dishes and serve immediately – or refrigerate for a few hours before serving (see note). Alternatively, you can freeze leftovers. Serves 2.
Banana Note: I do not use frozen banana slices here. With frozen raspberries being used, your blender may have a hard time pureeing the mix if the bananas are also frozen (though a rambo blender can handle it).
Almond Butter Note: If you don’t have the JEM nut butter, try substiting 1 1/2 tbsp raw almond butter. Add 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp of maple syrup to taste to sweeten, and also add 1/8 tsp cardamom (or a little more, to taste).
Chia Note: A high-powered blender will pulverize the whole chia seeds. If using a standard blender, try using 1 1/2 – 2 tsp of ground chia.
Blender Note: If your blender is having a hard time processing the mix with the frozen banananas, add 1-2 tbsp non-dairy milk, just to get the mixture going. Don’t add too much liquid or the pudding will become soupy.
Serving Note: This pudding tastes best if served within a day of making it, as the banana will oxidize and not taste as fresh. This is why I opted for a small batch, so that there are not a lot of leftovers. But, if you have several happy mouths to fed, feel free to double the batch.