How to Make Coconut Butter

How to Make Coconut Butter

Growing up, the only nut butter I'd ever tasted was peanut butter. I had no idea you could take pretty much any nut and turn it into a rich and delicious spread. These days there are a variety of natural butters made from different nuts and seeds (or combination) on the grocery shelves: walnut butter, cashew butter, sunflower seed butter, coconut butter. It's easy to replace peanut butter (if you choose to) with any of these other nut butters and they are super easy to make at home!

How to Make Coconut Butter

Today I'm going to show you how easy it is to make coconut butter. My sister Heidi has been making coconut butter for quite a while and she kept urging me to try it. I wish I had listened to her earlier because, oh my goodness, it's so delish!

Now, you'll have to like coconut in order to enjoy this butter but it is very versatile. It's rich and creamy, and you can spread it on toast with honey or mashed berries (my idea of a quick jam), use it in baking, or even just eat it with a spoon! Just remember, coconut is made up of a lot of fat and, although it is good fats, you might not want to overdo it if you're eating it straight from the jar, which I've been guilty of.

How to Make Coconut Butter

To make this super simple butter, all you need is unsweetened shredded coconut and a high-speed blender, such as a Vitamix. The following instructions are based on the Vitamix I have, but you can adapt it for the type of blender you own.

How to Make Coconut Butter

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups shredded coconut

Instructions:

  1. Add approximately 2 cups of coconut to the container of your Vitamix.
  2. Turn on the Vitamix and slowly increase the speed dial to 10, using the tamper to continuously push the coconut down into the blades. 
  3. Once the butter starts to come together, turn off the Vitamix and add another 2 cups of coconut, tamping it down while the Vitamix runs on speed 10, then repeat with the last 2 cups.
  4. Blend until the coconut has broken down and transformed into a soft, smooth butter.
  5. Store the coconut butter in a glass jar in the cupboard. I got about 2 cups of coconut butter from the 6 cups of shredded coconut.

Blushed Tips:

  • Give your Vitamix or high-speed blender a break if needed, stopping every couple of minutes or so to ensure it doesn't get overworked.
  • Store the coconut butter in the cupboard, not the fridge. It will solidify in colder temperatures and remain softer in warmer temperatures.
  • If you live in a colder climate like me, the coconut butter may still solidify in the cupboard depending on the temperature in your home. To soften, I place the jar in a bowl with warm water for a few minutes.
  • To avoid waste, I like to make a fruit and veggie shake right after I make the coconut butter so any butter that remains on the side of the container will blend into the shake.
  • For easy cleanup, I add very hot water and a small squirt of dish soap to the Vitamix container, then blend the soapy water on high for 30 seconds before rinsing. 
How to Make Coconut Butter

I'd love to hear if you try making coconut butter for the first time! What's your favourite nut butter?

How to Choose a Great Book (Without Knowing Anything About It)

How to Choose a Great Book (Without Knowing Anything About it)

A few years ago I started taking the bus to work, about 45 minutes each way, and I quickly realized how much time I had on my hands. There is only so much you can scroll through on your phone before you get bored! I decided to use my commute as the perfect opportunity to take up reading again and I haven't looked back.  

In the last three years I've read about 45 novels, most of them fiction, and I've begun every single one knowing virtually nothing about the story. I never read the back of books anymore and I stop people before they tell me too many details about the novel they're reading. I just love starting a new book not knowing where the story is going to take me.

Now, you might think that by approaching a book this way, I end up reading a lot of duds. But that's not the case at all! In those 45 books, I've only read a handful that were just okay. I've actually read my all-time favourite books knowing nothing about the plot when I started!

How to Choose a Great Book (Without Knowing Anything About It)

So, how do I find a great book without reading the synopsis?

A Recommendation
One of the easiest way to find a good book is to get a recommendation from someone you know. I'm lucky to have quite a few family members, friends, and colleagues who are avid readers, and they are my go-to when I'm looking for a new book. I regularly ask them the titles of books they've enjoyed recently and add any raves to my to-read list. 

A Reading Trail
You know how Amazon shows you what other customers purchased when they bought the item you are searching for? Like, if you are looking to buy tea towels, Amazon will suggest pot holders or a dish brush because other customers bought those items along with their tea towels. 

Books on Amazon are displayed the same way and they are also star rated from customer reviews. To find a book using the reading trail, I'll search on Amazon for a book I have already read and enjoyed, and look at what suggested titles come up (the books other customers purchased in addition to the book I'm searching). For example, if I search for The Light Between Oceans, a book I read a couple years ago, two of the titles that come up as purchased along side it are, All The Light We Cannot See and The Piano Maker.  When a suggested title is rated more than four stars with many reviews (as these both are), I add the names to my to-read list.

An Author's Collection
Almost every fall, Nicholas Sparks releases a new fiction novel. His books are love stories that are easy to read, and I personally enjoy them so much because I feel like I'm watching a movie when I'm reading them (which is probably why almost every book has been adapted to the big screen). When you like an author's style of writing, there is an excellent chance you will enjoy all of their books. I get a little excited when I read a good book by an author who has published several other novels because those authors then become my fall-backs when I'm at a loss for what to read next.  

Some authors I've read multiple books by are Jodi Picoult, Liane Moriarty, and Kristin Hannah. I will note, when you start reading book after book by the same author, you do start to notice patterns in their writing so it's nice to break it up with books from other authors if you can.

How to Choose a Great Book (Without Knowing Anything About It)

Below are three of my favourite books, all of which I read not knowing what I was getting into. Without giving you details on the actual plot of these novels, you'll see how I came about reading them, and I challenge you to choose your next book knowing nothing about it! 

The Kitchen House
The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom, was the first book I picked up when I started reading again and I was hooked by page two. I found this book through the reading trail; I actually saw it on Pinterest first and then when I searched it on Amazon, it had a high star rating and was paired with The Help. I hadn't actually read The Help yet but I had enjoyed the movie, so I took a chance. And I'm so glad! The Kitchen House was the book that made me fall in love with reading again.

A sequel was released last year, Glory Over Everything. I haven't have a chance to read this new one yet because I really want to re-read the The Kitchen House first.

The Rosie Project
The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion, had been on my radar for a while, but it wasn't until a coworker had suggested it to me, commenting that it was "such a fun book to read", that I bumped it to the top of my list. And she wasn't lying. When I wasn't laughing, I was smiling as I read this book; I enjoyed it so, so much. I pretty much told anyone I could how great this novel is and I still do. If you haven't read it yet, please do!

The Rosie Project also has a sequel, The Rosie Effect, which is just as enjoyable because it's the continuation of such a great story. 

The Nightingale
I decided to read The Nightingaleby Kristin Hannah, because I saw it everywhere! This book was front and centre at book stores, I saw it in the drugstores, and Safeway too. I picked up a copy because I couldn't seem to walk by a store without seeing the cover, and I was not disappointed. The Nightingale is probably my favourite book of all time. The narrative is captivating, powerful, and emotional, and I couldn't put this one down. I read it about a year ago and I'm really looking forward to reading it again soon. 

Blushed Tips:

  • I like to use the Goodreads app to keep track of the books I've read and the books I want to read. You'd be amazed at how easy it is to start reading a book, only to realize partway in that you've already read it before, especially if you read a lot by the same author!
  • I like to start a new book within a couple days of finishing my last one to help keep the reading momentum going.
  • If I'm really stuck on what to read next, I'll look for a book that has been adapted into a movie. It must be pretty good if they are putting it to film!

A few other books I've enjoyed are Big Little Lies (I really want to see the show!), The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold FryOrphan Train, and Still Alice. The books I'm most looking forward to reading next are A Man Called Ove and Truly Madly Guilty

What are some of your favourite books? I'd love to add some more titles to my to-read list!

How to Make Bone Broth

How to Make Bone Broth

We have soups and stews year round, but they are especially comforting in the cold winter months. I love that they are easy to put together, you can load them up with veg, and they are deliciously cozy. By using bone broth as the base of your soup or stew instead of boxed broth, you can elevate your recipe both in flavour and nutritional value. And, it's really easy to make!

How to Make Bone Broth

The benefits you'll receive from homemade bone broth go beyond the incredible flavour. Not only will you take in valuable minerals and nutrients extracted from the bones, you will also get a nice dose of gelatin which helps keep your skin, hair, and nails healthy and youthful. Not gonna lie, I'm hoping that my daily broth intake will help prevent, or at least delay, those inevitable wrinkles!

The gelatin in the broth is also known to be excellent for healing and nourishing your gut which is amazing because gut health has been found to be very important for overall health. You can tell your broth is full of gelatin when, once chilled, the broth becomes firm and gelatinous. You can pretty much guarantee some good gel action if you add lots of beef knuckle bones to your beef broth and chicken feet to your chicken broth. The first time my broth gelled, I did a little happy dance! And to be honest, I still get a little zip of excitement when I can stick a spoon in the broth and it holds up! But don't worry, that firm jelly-like broth melts away into a rich liquid when heated.

How to Make Bone Broth

Bone broth has been around for a very long time. Back in the day, our great-grandparents wouldn't dare throw out the bones from dinner, instead, cooking them down with water and vegetable scraps to create an amazing soup base with what many today would have tossed in the trash. Next time you roast a chicken or turkey, strip the carcass of all the meat and simmer the bones along with some vegetables and let it transform into beautiful broth. No waste and basically free broth to make the most amazing chicken or turkey soup! Win, win!

Because I make a lot of broth, I purchase bones from the farmers market. I try and get the best bones available, and if possible, you should too. Look for bones from animals that were grass fed or free range, and not exposed to antibiotics or other chemicals. The way the animal was raised will ultimately infuse your broth so you want to start with quality ingredients to create the best broth. In terms of veg, I like to use the same principle and use organic vegetables when possible.

How to Make Bone Broth

There are three main cooking methods for making your own bone broth: on the stove, in a slow cooker, or with a pressure cooker. All three methods are super simple; however, the stove top and slow cooker take about 24 hours to produce a rich and gelatinous broth, whereas the pressure cooker only takes about two hours.

My very first batch of bone broth was made on the stove in a large stockpot, but I quickly switched to a slow cooker because I wasn't comfortable leaving my stove on when I was sleeping or away from the house. Until recently, I was making broth constantly in my slow cooker (about six days a week), but have since switched to the pressure cooker method after I received an Instant Pot for Christmas. The beauty of the Instant Pot is that I can make multiple batches of broth in one day on the weekend and be set for the week!

Bone Broth

Ingredients:

  • quality beef or chicken bones (beef knuckle and/or marrow bones; chicken feet, backs, and/or necks)
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 1 onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 chunk of fresh turmeric
  • 1 strip of kombu or kelp seaweed (optional)
  • filtered water
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Instructions:

Stock Pot and Slow Cooker Method:

  1. Place bones, vegetables, garlic, turmeric, and seaweed in a large stock pot or slow cooker, and add filtered water to cover bones by about an inch.
  2. Add the apple cider vinegar and let sit for 30–60 minutes before turning on the heat.
  3. Turn the stove on to medium/high heat or set the slow cooker "High", and bring water to just before a boil before turning the temperature down as low as possible to hold a low simmer. On the stove, you may want to put the pot on the smallest burner on the lowest setting; in the slow cooker, you may want to simmer the broth on "Keep Warm" if the lowest setting is too hot (like mine was). Please use a kitchen thermometer to ensure the temperature of the broth maintains a safe temperature.
  4. Gently simmer for 18–24 hours.
  5. Once the time is up, use tongs to remove the bones and discard the vegetables. Reserve the bones to repeat a second or third time, if desired.
  6. Strain the broth into a glass storage container and cool slightly before chilling in the fridge.
  7. The fat will rise to the top and can be removed easily once chilled completely.

Pressure Cooker Method (I use the Instant Pot):

  1. Place bones, vegetables, garlic, turmeric, and seaweed in the pressure cooker insert and add filtered water to just cover the bones.
  2. Add the apple cider vinegar and let sit for 30–60 minutes before turning on the heat.
  3. Secure the lid and ensure the steam release valve is turned to "Sealing".
  4. Cook on "Soup" setting for 120 minutes. The Instant Pot will take about 30 minutes to reach pressure and then the timer will begin.
  5. Once the time is up, allow the Instant Pot to naturally release the pressure, approximately 45 minutes. I don't recommend quick release for broth and soups as the liquid will spit out of the steam release valve, especially if the pot is quite full.
  6. After the pressure has released fully, unlock and lift the lid, using tongs to remove the bones and discard the vegetables. Reserve the bones to repeat a second or third time, if desired.
  7. Strain the broth into a glass storage container and cool slightly before chilling in the fridge.
  8. The fat will rise to the top and can be removed easily once chilled completely.

Blushed Tips:

  • Optional step: roast bones in the oven at 400°C for approximately 30 minutes. Roasting the bones will provide a richer flavour to your broth, but I often skip it to cut down on time.
  • I prefer to use all chicken bones or all beef bones when making a batch of broth.
  • I like a very firm broth so I use a lot of knuckle bones (beef) and feet (chicken).
  • I like to use a large glass batter bowl to store my broth because it comes with a lid and I can easily see how much broth I have. You can also store the broth in mason jars; however, it may be more difficult to remove the fat.
  • To get a very clear broth, my preferred method for straining is through a fine mesh strainer lined with a flour sack towel.
How to Make Bone Broth

I've been making bone broth for about a year and a half now and it's become a staple in our kitchen. It's not only great for soups and stews, but you can also use it to sauté vegetables, cook quinoa or rice, or simply enjoy drinking it from a mug.  

Do you make your own bone broth? What's your favourite way to enjoy it?