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3 Nut and Seed Jams -- Healthier Hacks of Popular Sweet Treats

I enjoy sharing traditional recipes that have been modified ro meet the health requirements of those who are gluten-sensitive and vegan!

Delicious Nut and Seed Jams you can make healthier and cheaper yourself!

Delicious Nut and Seed Jams you can make healthier and cheaper yourself!

When my husband was a little boy in the 1950s, growing up with his family in Vancouver, BC, he was excited about a parcel from relatives in Germany that arrived just before Christmas every year. Apart from the aunties' hand-knit mittens or socks, the box also contained the delight of his young life: marzipan, that delicious almond paste candy that is paintstakingly shaped and painted and glossed up, transformed from food to objet d'art and back to food that he could pop into his mouth and eat.

I arrived in Vancouver from the Canadian prairies in 1969, met my husband shortly after that, and was introduced to a rich gamut of European sweets and treats: cheesecake, bundt, pfeffernusse cookies, strudel, Black Forest cake, and of course, marzipan.

And yes, marzipan became a Christmas tradition of ours as well. We often buy one of those size Large marzipan chocolate bars and share it, at least once during the Christmas holiday. I have actually tried to make the candy as well, but was frustrated that, while it tasted better than the "real thing", it was too sticky to mold into tiny little vegetables, not to mention undertaking the painting process.

I did, however, find a recipe online that I felt was a healthier version of the traditional Marzipan-- using only a few ingredients and NO white powdered sugar or dairy. My husband thinks it is pretty yummy. I've designed it as a 'jam' or spread that can be used on banana bread, muffins, brioche, shortbreads, croissant, maybe even cheesecake.

Marzipan on Shortbreads

Marzipan on Shortbreads

Marzipan is not candy. It is a unique substance unto itself, like Velveeta or plutonium

— Gilmore Girls

How To Blanch Almonds

Blanch your own raw almonds and save money while getting the quality of almond you want.

  1. Cover almonds in water in a small saucepan.
  2. Bring almonds to a boil for one minute only- no longer, no less
  3. Pour almonds into a colander and run cold water over them
  4. Grasp each almond and squeeze to remove its jacket... be careful not to shoot the almond across the room!
Blanching your own almonds is so easy, you'll never buy blanched almonds again!

Blanching your own almonds is so easy, you'll never buy blanched almonds again!

Marzipan Spread


  1. 1 1/4 cups pitted Medjool Dates, soaked in warm water for an hour- put soak water aside
  2. 1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
  3. 1 packet "True Leaf" Stevia
  4. 1 1/4 cups Almonds, blanched (you can do this first, or buy almonds already blanched)
  5. 1/2 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt


  1. Combine the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  2. Add the date soak water or almond milk if the consistency is too dry, add almond meal if the consistency is too soft.
  3. Put in a squat glass jar and refrigerate.

(adaptation of recipe from

And that turned out to be so much fun I decided I would include our two other DIY- takes on popular sweet nutty "jams". The next one is for people (little OR big people) who get too wired on chocolate, but like that N--ella stuff.

If you are really averse to carob, go ahead and use cocoa (but don't forget that carob has minerals in it that your body loves, less fat, no theobromine,)


Yummy Carobella!  Banana Bread and Banana Slices love Carobella!

Yummy Carobella! Banana Bread and Banana Slices love Carobella!

Toasting Hazelnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Spread one layer of hazelnuts on pan and toast for 5 minutes, checking to make sure they are not burning
  3. Remove from oven and pour into metal colander, swirling continually and removing nuts as they lose their coats. Can also rub between clean tea towels.
Hazelnuts-sometimes some keep their jackets on!

Hazelnuts-sometimes some keep their jackets on!

Carobella Ingredients

  1. 1 1/2 C. Toasted Hazelnuts (cooled completely)
  2. 1 C. Almond Milk
  3. 1/2 C. Carob Powder
  4. 1 T. Chicory or Chicory Coffee Substitute (like Roma or CafLib)
  5. 1/2 C. Maple Syrup (or to taste)
  6. 1/4 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt


  1. Blend in high speed blender or food processor until smooth and creamy.
  2. Put in a squat glass jar and refrigerate.

(Adaptation of recipe at

And the last nut jam-- actually, a SEED jam (unless you include pistachios, which I didn't)-- is the easiest to make! You don't even need a blender.

Sesame Slick

Fast and Yummy!  Sesame Slick!

Fast and Yummy! Sesame Slick!


  1. 1 C. Natural (organic is great) Tahini
  2. 1 C. Coconut Palm Sugar (low Glycemic index)

Mash together with a spoon until smooth or spin up in the blender.

Raw Nuts with John Kohler


Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on January 20, 2015:


It must be the "granny" connection that puts us on the same page so often? Have yourself a wonderful day! ~Cynthia

Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on January 20, 2015:

techygran, you're welcome. I am honored! Thank you. I'm embarrassed to be so slow to respond, but I've been away from the computer for several days.

Thanks for the additional info. We are on the same page so often--like making our own powdered sugar. I don't add starch. I understand the commercial enterprises add it to help keep the sugar from clumping, but I haven't had a clumping problem that couldn't be stirred out quickly with a fork or a small wire whisk.

Looking forward to whipping up a couple of these recipes soon, and all of them over time.

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on January 18, 2015:

FlourishAnyway: Always a joy to have you drop by and comment-- thank you for your kind words. Have a good week!

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 18, 2015:

These look good and you've presented them so beautifully (the layout and photos!) with such a charming introduction as to how you came to have the recipes.

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on January 17, 2015:


Thank you for taking a look and for your comments-- I must say that I am more than a little cowed by the remarks of actual marzipan aficionados, given that this recipe is a pretty liberal knock-off of that truly delightful confection! I think it is a tasty nosh, although nowhere up to the standards of the real thing! xxCynthia

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on January 17, 2015:

I love marzipan and always put a layer of it on Christmas and celebration cakes, before covering it with icing. An interesting hub.

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on January 15, 2015:

Marcy Goodfleisch:

Thank you for dropping by and commenting! My hunch is that once you get a few more daring recipes with your mega-blender under your belt you'll be using it every day! Have fun! ~Cynthia

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on January 15, 2015:

Techygram - thanks for this nudge to remind me to try making my own jams! I bought one of those super-duper mega-blenders, and I've not had the nerve yet to try the more daring things it can do. Well, to me, this is daring. Yummy!

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on January 15, 2015:


Thanks for dropping by and I wish you good pleasure with the Marzipan spread! ~Cynthia

Joyfulcrown on January 15, 2015:

Thanks for sharing these recipes. I just happen to have a bag of almonds, so I going to try the Marzipan spread.

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on January 15, 2015:


Thank you for your kind words! Yes, the pretty packaging would make these great gifts-- thanks for the idea! All the best, Cynthia

RTalloni on January 15, 2015:

Mmmm! Your take-offs are great options for healthier treats. Will be back to this hub. On top of yum for us, these recipes would make such great gifts in pretty packaging!

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on January 15, 2015:


Thank you so much for dropping in and commenting-- I am thrilled to hear that you are going to try these for yourself this weekend-- please let me know how they turned out, what adjustments you made, and which one was your fave! And go ahead and write about your particular nut spreads-- I look forward to reading about them! All the best, Cynthia

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on January 15, 2015:

I knew I had to read this when I saw the title. I have also been experimenting with nut spreads but yours are so creative and sound delicious! I have all these ingredients in my cupboard, so you can be sure I´ll try your recipes this weekend. Thank you!

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on January 15, 2015:

Linda, thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing-- I hope you enjoy these "take-offs" on the real treats-- be sure to adjust the sweetness to suit when you get around to the recipes! ~Cynthia

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on January 15, 2015:

Hi there ecogranny-- thank you for reviewing this and for your wonderful comments. I was actually thinking of you as I posted it.

Real marzipan is actually made with powdered (icing) sugar, and doesn't contain dates, so go ahead and use the sweetener of your choice! When I made the actual marzipan recipe I made my own icing sugar by whirling up organic cane sugar and adding in tapioca starch (can't remember the exact proportions, but it's online somewhere). There is none of that "raw" sugar taste that you get with regular icing sugar.

I shall certainly check out your Cooking with Whole Grains and Whole Foods on Facebook and 'like'/follow-- thank you so much for the promo there! I really appreciate that!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on January 15, 2015:

You've discussed two of my favourite treats - marzipan and Nutella! I love sweet sesame seed treats, too. Thank you so much for sharing the healthier version of each recipe. I'll save the recipes and will definitely be using them! I'll share this hub.

Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on January 15, 2015:

What wonderful recipes! I especially want to try the marzipan spread. I had no idea marzipan was made with dates. Could I substitute evaporated cane juice for the stevia, measure for measure?

Also want to try the sesame slick. We love sesame seeds and tahini, so I know it will be a winner at our house.

Look for this later today on Cooking with Whole Grains & Whole Foods on Facebook, where I'm featuring it as Recipe of the Day, or in this case, Recipes of the Day.

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