Wednesday, March 31, 2010
While I'm on this entirely whole foods regime, I'm going to try to bring you some reviews of products I tried before embarking on this journey. In mid-February, I got in touch with Artisana to ask if they would kindly send me samples so I could know first-hand why Chocolate-Covered Katie is always raving about them. The fine Artisana people were happy to send me this slew of teeny, tiny samples and I thank them so much for doing so!
Each of these adorable jars holds a mere one tablespoon of raw nut butter or coconut butter goodness. Whenever I have the pleasure of partaking in a spoonful of raw nut butter, I'm so surprised that anyone would want to add chemicals, sweeteners, and salt (I'm looking at you, conventional grocery store nut butters!) to something that is purely sweet and delicious on its own. Have you ever tried raw pecan butter? It's smooth, creamy, and sweet, with just the slightest hint of a bitter note, and is so delicious. Raw macadamia nut butter is creamy, sweet, and decadent. Walnut butter has that characteristic bitterness of the brain-shaped nuts. We make vegan sauces and cheeses with cashews because they have a very creamy quality, so raw cashew butter is very creamy and also a little sweet. Raw almond butter is also sweet and not too thick. I even ate the tahini straight up and found it delicious in its slightly bitter, unadulterated form. Artisana's nut butters taste pure and allow the flavor of the nuts to shine.
Coconut butter is an experience all of its own. I started eating it about a year ago when my aunt (she practices eastern medicine) gave my mom a jar of coconut paste. I stuck a spoon in it one day while I was at my mom's house and fell in love. That same jar is still over half full and I always make a beeline for it with a spoon whenever I visit. However, I didn't realize until trying the Artisana coconut butter that they were the same product with a different name. It's really just a nut butter made of coconut meat, so it's a spoonable, unsweetened paste that tastes like the inside of a young coconut. It gets a bit dry and crumbly in the jar after a while, but I really like when nut butters dry out and would happily do without that oil that pools at the top of the jar, so the dry and crumbly thing doesn't bother me at all.
Cacao Bliss is the aforementioned coconut butter mixed with deep, dark, raw cacao. It's not very sweet, but it is very rich and would satisfy any strong chocolate or sweets craving. In fact, Kristen Suzanne often takes along a tiny jar of Cacao Bliss to restaurants for her dessert. I think she has the right idea!
I have seen Artisana's nut butters at Whole Foods, which means they are accessible to most of us locally, and on Vegan Essentials, as well. They are a little pricey, but that is because they are using organic, raw, high quality ingredients. If you can fit them into your budget, they are absolutely worth the cost.
Looking at the Artisana website now, I see that I missed them at Natural Products Expo West. That is such a shame because I'm sure they were there with new products that I haven't tried yet! I'll look forward to seeing what they debut this year.