Low-Sodium Double Pumpkin Butter
On the list of classic lunches, peanut butter and jelly ranks at the top. It's a simple combo of rich, nutty peanut butter with berry-flavored jam, all snuggled together between two fluffy pieces of bread. And whether you cut the crusts, go chunky versus smooth or toss in some sliced bananas, the balance of sweet and savory makes it a favorite of kids and adults alike.
Although peanut butter is typically salted, you can find unsalted and lower-sodium versions in the market. Or easily make it (and season it!) on your own, at home. But these days, because of allergies and sensitivities, the PB and J equation has opened up to more possibilities, like equally rich tahini and sunflower butter. And that means even more reason to get inventive and play around with flavor. So here’s an idea that will take non-nut spreads to the next level, not to mention make the most of seasonal ingredients: Double Pumpkin Butter.
Like other DIY nut butters, this recipe starts by toasting pumpkin seeds in a dry, hot pan to coax out the maximum nuttiness. Then, in place of vegetable oil, use pureed pumpkin to create a smooth texture and add a subtle, sweet taste. From there, experiment on your own and season according to cravings. Add a little maple syrup for an extra sugary kick, add cinnamon for warmth, or keep things on the savory side with a sprinkle of sea salt (if you can). Depending on what you have on hand, you can also substitute equal amounts of pureed butternut squash or sweet potato for the pumpkin. Then, pair Double Pumpkin Butter with apricot jam, marmalade or apple butter. Serve it as a dip with apples or over celery sticks. Or use it in place of peanut butter in these no-bake cookies or oatmeal energy bars.
Place pumpkin seeds in a large, dry saute pan. Toast over medium-high heat until they begin to brown and you can smell the toastiness, about 5 minutes, shaking the pan every once in a while to turn the sides so they don’t burn. When evenly toasted, remove the pan from heat and let the seeds cool a bit, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Transfer the pumpkin seeds to a food processor and grind until crumbled and almost powdery. Add the 2 tablespoons of pureed pumpkin and the maple syrup, and continue blending until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. If using for cookies or granola bars, take the Double Pumpkin Butter out when it clumps together into a ball and add to the recipe or store in an airtight container for up to a week. Otherwise, keep blending until the Double Pumpkin Butter takes on a spreadable texture. Transfer to an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Jessica Goldman Foung began the blog SodiumGirl.com to capture her adventures in a low-sodium life. She regularly writes about salt-free flavor tips and ingredient swaps. Her first cookbook was Sodium Girl’s Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook, and she is currently working on her second, to be released in 2016.