Meridian Pistachio, Cocoa-PB and Cocoa-Hazelnut Butters…

IMG_20170506_071355_428Several weeks ago now (okay, bordering on months) I was sent three amazing new nut butters from Meridian. I planned to create recipes with all of them- however you’ll only be seeing recipes for the last two any time soon. Because I ate all of the pistachio jar. However, one empty jar and two half-empty jars does mean I feel qualified to give a pretty accurate review, before we get down to the recipes. Keep your eyes peeled for those in the next few days …

 

Pistachio

I was fairly hesitant to open this one, mainly because I felt like it would be my least favourite. Turned out to be my favourite. It’s a greenish hue, finely ground, and with some oil separation before you stir it (all good nut butters do this, due to the absence of stabilisers, and more nuts in place of them- nuts of course containing oil, which separates out etc etc ). How did I use a whole jar so fast? Mainly by eating it straight off of the spoon, but also dolloped onto porridge or shredded wheat, or mixed with thick Greek yoghurt, frozen raspberries, and honey or maple syrup (that last one is phenomenal). Pistachio butter has a slightly sweet, subtly nutty flavour, with a little saltiness- which you wouldn’t expect from the smell (it doesn’t really smell of anything). Its fairly runny in consistency, and so I feel like it would also work well in marinades for meats such as lamb, or made into a dressing for a couscous salad with pomegranate seeds, orange, and dried fruit in it. I plan on buying another jar very very soon, because I had a lot of recipe plans for this one.

 

Cocoa-Peanut Butter

Possibly my least favourite, not because its bad in any way, but simply because the other two are so amazing. If you love your classic peanut butter, and don’t like to veer too far from this, then a chocolate-flavoured peanut butter is right up your alley. It very thick, making it great straight off of the spoon, and on cereal or porridge, but it also makes it ideal spread onto toast, or a bagel, blended into a smoothie, or used in baking. I’d add it to muffins for sure. Think a grown-up-reeces-cup. Not sickly in any way shape or form, but instead a rich cocoa flavour, with a naturally nutty undertone.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Butter

This came a VERY close second to the pistachio butter. It does taste Ferrero roche-esque too (Instagram followers: you really wanted to know that). This nut butter can be used in all of the ways the cocoa-peanut butter can, but is slightly runnier in texture, and tends to separate out a bit more due to the higher oil content of hazelnuts. This also means it drizzles onto ice cream (and nice cream) really well. The texture is of very finely ground hazelnuts, so its closer to smooth than crunchy. Its also slightly thicker than the straight up hazelnut butter Meridian make, which I liked. Again, really rich cocoa flavour to it. Meridian definitely do chocolate and nuts well.

 

There you have it, my review of the three newest Meridian nut butters. I’d recommend each and every one of them, but as I think the cocoa-hazelnut will generally have the most appeal to people (the pistachio one isn’t as sweet, and is probably more of a love/hate flavour), then I’d say try and get your hands on that one first…

 

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Banana, Cacao & Hazelnut Smoothie

wp-1482952086020.jpgI have yet to meet anyone who does not like nutella. This smoothie reminds me of nutella smothered over ripe banana. You have that chocolate-y, nutty taste, and sweet creamy frozen banana flavour.

Anyone who has a sweet tooth but wants a nutritious alternative: have I got your attention?

It might be a bit cold for smoothies in some people’s opinions, but not in mine. For this one I used Meridian’s hazelnut butter, but you can use chopped hazelnuts if you really want to- although, I have no idea how the texture of your smoothie would turn out. Probably fairly chunky. Though if you reduced the milk to just a couple of tbsp., you could make a nice-cream with chunks of hazelnut instead.

Anyway, this smoothie is ideal as a well balanced snack, or even a dessert: you have protein from your nut butter, plus a serving of fruit, fibre, and a hit of potassium from the banana. You also have any of the vitamins and minerals your milk is fortified with or naturally contains (I used almond milk, but use whatever floats your boat), and some beautiful antioxidants from the cacao powder. Also, I don’t know about you, but the taste of chocolate makes me feel happy.

Sound good? Let’s get going…

 

Ingredients 

  • 1 large, ripe banana (with ALL the speckles you can get)- sliced and frozen overnight
  • 1tbsp cacao powder (I used Seven Hills)
  • 1tbsp Hazelnut butter (I used Meridian)
  • 250ml unsweetened almond milk
  • OPTIONAL: A splash of REALLY cold water, depending how thick/thin you like your smoothies; 1dsp protein powder if you want to increase your protein intake

 

Method

  1. Pour the almond milk into the blender first; this means the blades will be able to turn more easily. Add in everything else, blend, and serve with a straw if you’re feeling classy…

Christmas Porridge No.1: Hazelnut, Chocolate & Pear

wp-1481464521141.jpgChristmas breakfast is one of my favourite things about the entire day. In fact, of late I’ve been diving for my breakfast before my presents. My top picks are always either something involving eggs or smoked salmon (or both), shredded wheat with loads of toppings- or, more often than not, a bowl of porridge. But since Christmas is a time for making things that bit more special, I’ve decided to make three different- more luxurious- Christmas  porridges for you over the next week. This is the first one…

Hazelnut butter is a mega-luxury as it’s so expensive, and so as Christmas is a time for pushing the boat out a bit, I like to use it this time of year. Alternatively, you can use whole hazelnuts, which are much cheaper- just chop them, and add them as directed below. If your are treating yourself to hazelnut butter, then I highly recommend Meridian- nothing has matched theirs so far. Chocolate on Christmas morning is something I know many of us enjoy, but this chocolate flavour comes from cacao, making it super-rich and just that little bit better for you, as it is richer in antioxidants. If you aren’t a fan of bitter dark chocolate-esque flavours, then go ahead and add in 1-2tsp of maple syrup to sweeten. Finally, the pear means you get in one of your 5 a day, provides a little sweetness itself, and it works beautifully with both the cacao and the hazelnut.

Now, a little word on the egg whites…these are completely optional. I love egg white oats, and so I added them. The extra protein makes this a well-balanced breakfast, and you can’t actually taste them. The texture just becomes super-thick (which is something I like in my porridge), and your breakfast super-filling. If you’re sceptical then feel free to skip them, or even sub in protein powder if you’re into that. For more on egg white oats you can read my post and recipe here.

Let’s get going…

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of porridge oats
  • 1/2 cup freshly boiled water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1tbsp cacao
  • 1 pear- three thin slices put to one side, and the rest chopped into chunks
  • 1tbsp hazelnut butter (I used Meridian)
  • Pinch of each: cinnamon, ginger, mixed spice (just a little!)
  • OPTIONAL: 2 egg whites, frozen berries, maple syrup (I highly recommend adding the egg whites- this recipe works fine without the berries, but they do add a little colour, and you can read about the maple syrup in my intro)

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