Homemade Peanut Butter and Nutella

Last week I went a little overboard on the purchases when I was shopping at one of my favorite cheap health food stores, Dietetica Tony. Thankfully the place is so cheap that the damge was minimal; double thankfully, I was inspired by the 600 grams of unsalted, untoasted peanuts that I impulse-bought.

And that is how I decided for the first time in my life to make my own peanut butter.

At university in Burlington, Vermont freshly ground peanut butter was a mainstay in my fridge due to the local Co-Op, Citymarket’s nut-butter grinder (almonds included !!). I never once had to think about the possibility of a) expensive and b) uncommon peanut butter supplies. And even if I couldn’t get the fresh stuff, Jiff was at every gas station in the country.

Argentina has a completely different relationship with peanuts. They don’t come with bananas and sliced bread, in milkshakes, on pancakes or covered in chocolate and wrapped in orange plastic –they come salted and with beer, cheese, and chorizo.

And that is 100%+ ok.

I swear I am not complaining. Its just that sometimes I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, hold the meat. You know?

But I didn’t stop there. I decided to try my hand at making nutella too. I could have probably found it in some specialty shop surrounded by 50 peso bags of dried italian pasta (I think I’ll buy the 8-15 peso variety instead, thanks), but I was inspired by the prospect of making peanut butter. So I decided that my Oscars night snacks didn’t have to be quite so expensive (banana nutella emapandas 4lyfe).

So I bought some hazelnuts, powdered sugar and cocoa powder too.

And you know what? It was shamefully easy.

That being said, you need a food processor. So find a friend who has one and take full advantage. Don’t forget to reward them with a little bit of nut butter too!

Homemade Peanut Butter

Ingredients:

400 grams ra, un-salted peanuts

3-5 Tbsp. oil (not olive oil)

Salt, sugar, or honey to taste

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to around 350F/180C

Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and bake until golden. Watch them closely so they don’t burn.

Let the nuts cool completely (and display in a lovely jar until ready to use, for my fellow procrastinators).

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Place nuts in a food processor and process continuously.

First it will look just like chunky nuts. Then it will look a little less chunky, but still dry…

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And thats where you add in the first 3 Tbsp. of oil in a continuous stream. It will start to get creamy…

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Keep processing until you get your favorite texture. I doubt it will every be 100% smooth, but there is definitely some variation possible. This is also a good time to add in salt and/or sugar or honey !!

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Homemade Nutella

This is very similiar to the peanut butter. The only difference really is that the ingredients are added in sooner.

Ingredients:

1 cup (around 150 grams) peeled hazelnuts; if unpeeled, see below

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa power

1/2 cup powdered sugar

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

4 Tbsp oil (again, not olive oil)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to around 350F/180C

Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and bake until golden. Watch them closely so they don’t burn (which is what happened to me). If you could only find hazelnuts with the skins on them, place them in a dish towel and roll around vigourously. The skins should start to come off on their own. Its a pain though, so try to get them without skins in the first place.

Let the nuts cool completely.

Place the nuts in the food processor and process until they are as smooth as possible, around 3 minutes. They will be dry, so don’t worry if its still pretty chunky.

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Add the dry ingredients remaining ingredients and blend until combined.

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Add half of the first 2 Tbsp of the oil in, poured in a continuous stream. Process until smooth. If the nutella is too dry, add in another Tbsp and continue to process.

Note: I added too much oil in at once and the result was a very liquid-y nutella. Delicious–but not quite the right consistency. It does firm up in the fridge a tiny bit, though, so don’t worry too much.

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Then enjoy the hell out of your homemade and cheap versions of these nut butters. I have been eating my peanut butter with bananas and made some banana-nutella empanadas for the oscar festivities.

I still have a lot left! Any ideas?

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Feature of the Week-er: Gettin’ Nuts at Dietetica Tony

If its not obvious already, I love to cook. It has to also be obvious that I try to work on a smaller budget. Cooking for yourself is always cheaper than eating out, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that making muffins and cakes and starting your day with nuts, yogurt and fruit is the cheapest way to live. To offset those frivolous buys I go to this one little health food store in Palermo. Its taken me a while to get this one out in the blogosphere because I wanted to be completely sure about quality and prices before I divulged the secret of my cheap dietetica. Its not often you find one.

First off: A dietetica is not a diet food store; its more of a health food store.

Just like what you would expect, its the best place to get organic honey, whole wheat flour, dried fruit and nuts and bulk spices that are otherwise impossible to find in the average supermarket (good curry powder does exsist, and in surprisingly healthy quanties in the dietetica world). Truly, most things you need for cooking indian/thai/middle easter/beyond dinners can be found in the better shops.

If I had figured this out before I imported my own tahini I could have forgetten about Sarkis’s “hummus” made with peanuts a long time ago!

All this is to say that knowing a couple of good dieteticas is key to not getting sick of steak  blowing your budget on the high quality, gourmet-eating in the city. I love the idea of going to closed-door resto’s and up-scale eateries, but who am I kidding? I would have to eat lentils and eggs for the rest of the month if I did that on the regular. Reading food blogs will have to cover that department while I try to cover the other side of things–until I magically land that $$$ paying job…

Which brings me to Dietetica Tony, my most recent Feature of the Week-er.

I’m giving it the GET YA NUTZ prize.

Dietetica Tony

Dietetica Tony may not have the most varied selection in all of Buenos Aires, and its definitely not the largest. But what it does have (following the theme here, you see) is that its cheap. See what it says underneath the name on its sign?

“Precios Mayoristas Al Alcance del Consumidor”

Translation: wholesale prices available to the public. 

And truly, they are.

nuts

bread and nuts

See the price on those nuts ?! Excuse my over-the-top enthusiasm, but broken walnuts (nuez partida) go for closer to 13 pesos/100g rather than 7.90 pesos. Same thing goes for the almonds, which are usually around 15 pesos. WOOOO.

The selection of dried fruit and nuts is actually pretty impressive and, of course, on the more accessible side. I regularly take advantage and buy myself some goodies when I make a trip…

goodies

raisins

…check out those chocolate covered beauties.

Another steal is the price on quinoa–4  pesos/100 g, often 9 pesos! Same thing goes for chia seeds, flax seeds and other seedy (hah) things you’d find at such stores. If you are trying to get in touch with your inner health nut be cheap in BA a good way to get some of your protein without investing too much is buy eating chia seeds– they have absurdly high protein levels (shout out to the lil’ sis for her food enlightenment). They were supposedly an Aztec superfood, which of course could only become popular as a health food after the chia pet business was no longer profitable. Whatever; cheaper here!

Chia

Whole wheat flour, also a steal. Again, this is a health food store, so no judging me.

dried goods

Want a sample shop?

250g whole wheat flour

250g powdered sugar

300g unsalted peanuts (making that peanut butter!)

100g walnuts

100g quinoa

100g chocolate covered raisins

Total: AR 32.50 = USD 4.25 (at non-official exchange rate, duh)

Not too shabby.

Dietetica Tony, Thames 2481, Palermo Soho

Feature of the Week-er: Nailin’ it


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Summer means exposed feet. It also means (hopefully) lots of schmoozing on rooftop bars with colorful cocktails in your hands. Your hands will be looked at no matter what you do and I am sure you’ve heard that clean hands/nails make a good impression (which means men can definitely get in on the action). Hell, it’s also just nice to have someone massaging your cuticles from time to time. But no one wants to spend a lot; and that’s where I come in.

You can stop by your local hair salon and cross your fingers that the person who does your nail doesn’t leave you with something worse (a little advice: nail rape via nail file in the hands of a very angry woman let me with claws…cringe). As prices currently stands (though not for long…THANKS INFLATION) My suggestion is seeking out some place that specializes. Prices usually run from AR 30+ for a manicure and 60+ for a pedicure, though some vary depending on the nail polish you choose.

Let me introduce you to my favorite, Avanceê in Recoleta. The nice thing about this place is that it specializes in nails, which means they have all the appropriate tools and furniture. The place is white and clean, though not sterile looking by any means. Chairs are comfortable and color choices are varied.

Prices are very fair—AR 35 for manicure and AR 70 for pedicure. Waxing is available.

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Some Tips:

Bring your own nail polish, ladies. They charge an extra AR 15 just to use the “good” stuff (Revlon). I’d rather bring my own anyway.

Call ahead to avoid having to wait, although you might have to anyway.

Study up on your lingo beforehand if you’re Spanish isn’t too strong. The ladies speak mostly Spanish although I already gave them a cheat sheet!nail3

Avanceê, Azcuénaga 1849 (in between Las Heras and the Cemetery)

4807-0032

Monday, 2 to 9 PM, Tuesday to Saturday, 10 AM to 9 PM, CLOSED Sundays

Pill Poppin’: A Cheaper Pharmacy in BA

For two months I have been searching now for a way to get my meds cheaper. Argentina already has a fairly open over the counter policy which suits me just fine. However, prices tend to still be high even with my lovely dolar blue exchange rate. If you have obra social or pre-pago (i.e. health insurance that gives you discounts on medication by showing your card) you are looking at a 30% + discount. For poor little old me thats worthless.

I have a solution:
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A farmacy that offers a perpetual 20% discount !!
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I’m not exactly sure why but I assume it has something to do with a subsidy. Whatever it is, I am glad for it and for the adorable older pharmacist man behind the counter that doesn’t glower at me like the poor, over-worked Farmacity peeps. Supporting the neighborhood and saving almost 20 pesos which can be used on more important things like my eating-out-at-delicious-restaurants fund? I’m in. 
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Farmacia Avalon, Guemes 4028 (in between Scalabrini and Malabia)
UPDATE: I may have found another couple of pharmacies with a similar (and better) deal, one on the corner of Santa Fe and Darregueyra (Palermo) and the other at Santa Fe 3089 (Barrio Norte). They seem to both offer 25%+. Confirmation pending!

Buns of Steel…for FREE?

Looking for free, creative ways to exercise in Buenos Aires?

I always do! Gyms are expensive and, considering they are closed on Sundays, not always convenient for us professionals. My thinking is that if you can work out outside, you should. Anyway, it’s probably better for our lungs AND our self esteem (any one see those gorgeous leggy Argentine girls in Saturday evening tops, leggings and their hair down? ugh). I also downloaded the GymPact app that literally takes money from your bank account (with your permission of course) everytime you miss your weekly workout goal. Harsh, but useful. Sort of like my mom charging my sister for leaving things on the floor when she was younger, its definitely using the stick rather than the carrot. But hey, if it works…

So don’t think this is about to be an infomercial pill that will whip you in to shape. I expect you to actually work for those glorious glutes. But I’ll at least give you a hint as to where you can exercise without having to drop the cash that gyms in the city ask for.

Estaciones Saludables:

This new city initiative to get porteños fit provides some wonderful exercise opportunities that anyone can take advantage of. The stations offer a variety of services and activities including basic health information, yoga and aerobics classes, and access to bikes. The stations are all over the city, located in different parks. On a recent Sunday in the Rosedale in Palermo I was lucky enough to get there just in time for the dance aerobics class. Oh yeah. I shook by bum like the rest of the ladies and was informed that the class had actually started at 930 AM with a jog/walk around the lakes and that dancing would be followed by yoga/stretching. Not too bad for free.

 
Days and time vary from station to station and activities I believe, change frequently. It seems like the only way to really know whats going on is to go, so pull on your running shoes and run hop the subte over to your closest park to check out whats going on!
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Mejor en Bici:

This free city bike service lets you pick up a bike from a bunch of stations around the city and use it for a full hour without paying a cent. Sounds like the perfect excuse to see the sites and work up a mighty sweat at the same time. Register here.

NOTE: You have to have some sort of proof of residency to do this. So if you pay a bill you might be able to take advantage. I, of course, cannot. Snap.

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Outdoor Gym:

hate the idea of working out in side but love the way those gym machines make your muscles bulge? Get the best of both worlds with one of the free outdoor gyms provided by the city. Thank Israel in Palermo Park’s Plaza Israel by using the machines the country donated (cute, but still wondering who came up with that one). Or have a view of that massive silver flower to keep you motivated (why, I don’t know). Add in the biking/running lanes right in front of both areas and these open-air gyms become the cheapest way to get in shape. (Plaza Justo Jose de Urquiza, in between Ave. Libertador and Ave. Figuero Alcorta and next to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes OR Plaza Israel inbetween Av. Figueroa Alcorta y Los Ombúes, in Parque Tres de Febrero).

Classes at your Neighborhood Centro Cultural:

Just about every neighborhood in the city has a cultural center that provides free or super low cost classes. In terms of exercise, centers have everything from yoga to tango classes. Do a little of your own research and check our your best bet using this list . Many centers have their own webpage with listings too so here is a more general list of what some centers offer.

Blogilates:

And if its raining or just gross outside, google your free personal trainer Cassey Ho. She may be over bubbly for someone doing squats, but Cassey will make you sweat and curse her at the same time. Do 3 videos and call it a day. (Another similiar (but not quiiite as fun) website is FitSugar.)

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Best butt wins a prize!  A ‘frugal’ prize of course…and what that means not even I know.