I recently returned from one of my favorite places on Earth, the U.S. West. The Western part of these United States, while a vast area, is at the top of my favorite places on Earth. There’s something about the introspective peace of the Arizona desert, the wonderment of the “big sky” in Montana and the breathtaking beauty of simultaneously seeing mountains and the ocean in (parts of) California that makes my heart sing and my spirit sore. This time, however, I was falling in love with the red rocks of Utah, more specifically those surrounding Red Mountain Resort in St. George.
I will have a lot more to say about this fabulous place in upcoming posts, but to start, I want to share a genius little concoction that solves many a “I-love-nut-butter-but-what-about-all-the-fat?” issue.
I am forever encouraging my clients to add protein to breakfast to stabilize blood sugar levels in order to increase satiety and offset those annoying late morning hunger pangs. Slapping two tablespoons of peanut or almond butter on your toast or into your breakfast smoothie (and that’s if you actually measure) does give you 9 grams of the protein you’re seeking, but it also adds about 200 calories and 16 grams of fat. That wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, but it also tops off your recommended nut consumption for the day. What if you wanted a handful of almonds as a snack later, or to sprinkle a couple of walnuts into your salad at lunch or to enjoy these delicious Salmon Lettuce Wraps with Pistachio Cream from Food Confidence dot com? Your nut -and perhaps “healthy fat” consumption- may already be over, or at least starting to reaching it’s tipping point.
Enter: Carrot Peanut Butter. It’s exactly what it sounds like: carrots mixed into peanut butter. It tastes just like peanut butter, but lighter, and that’s because it is. Mixing carrots and peanut butter in a 2:1 ratio reduces the fat and calories of regular peanut butter by fifty percent! It also adds fiber and beta carotene which is converted to Vitamin A and has been proven to improve night vision and reduce the risk of macular degeneration. The high level of beta carotene in carrots also serves as an antioxidant which helps to slow down cellular aging, prevent wrinkling, dry skin, blemishes and uneven skin tone. Who doesn’t want that??
Red Mountain offered this little gem by the tablespoon on single serving small dishes on the breakfast bar. This is much smarter (and beneficial to the guests) because it’s so deliciously light, you could be tempted to eat much more than a serving which would of course, defeat the purpose of making your breakfast nut butter lighter.
Because the exact recipe was not available in the Red Mountain Resort Adventure Cuisine cookbook, to make it at home I had to wing it. A dining room server told me the ingredients, which are minimal. I bought carrots at the Farmer’s Market (and no, I did not arrange them this way). I washed and peeled about 4 large carrots, chopped them up, and steamed them until soft.
I put the steamed carrots into my Vitamix (you could also use a food processor) along with some of the water they were steamed in (about 1/4 cup), retaining some of the nutrients that were potentially lost. I pureed the carrots, which yielded approximately 1 cup of carrot puree. I then added about 1/2 cup creamy, organic peanut butter and blended the two together. If the mixture is too stiff and not smooth like peanut butter, add a tiny bit more water.
At Red Mountain I was told “if your carrots are particularly sweet, you might not need to add any sweetener. If not, you might want to add 1-2 tablespoons of agave nectar.” I am not a huge fan of agave nectar, and even though I thought these carrots were pretty sweet, I still added 1 tablespoon of honey. Then I added 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract and a dash of salt. Forewarning, the mixture is going to be warm if not hot. I don’t know about you, but hot carrots and peanut butter makes me think more “baby food” less delectable breakfast item, so I decided to cool the carrot peanut butter before tasting it. I put it in a sealed container and refrigerated it for at least an hour. When I tasted it later on a green apple, I was transported back to the Red Mountain dining room (unfortunately, only figuratively) where I first tried carrot peanut butter on a piece of whole grain toast just before departing for a hike into the breathtakingly beautiful Snow Canyon. How’d it taste? Delicious. And at half the fat and calories of regular peanut butter, it has become a new breakfast staple. The fact that it’s a similar color to the red rocks of Utah that I fell in love with is… a huge bonus.
P.S. You too can experience the incredible benefits of a Red Mountain Resort Wellness get-away. For more information on Destination Wellness retreats beginning Spring 2015, click here.