I grew up in a butter household. We didn’t cook with it so much, but we did eat a lot of toast and therefore quite a bit of butter. I don’t think I had margarine till I started visiting school friends at home… And maybe not even then! My mother used to tell me that margarine was bad for you, which I have never bothered to research as an adult – firstly because my mum is always right (!). Secondly, because I know non-descript vegetable oils are made from a waste product of industry, and when companies are trying to make a buck or two from their waste, it usually requires a closer look. It also comes down to the old saturated fat vs unsaturated fats argument – but I would prefer to eat whole saturated fats than processed vegetable oils from dubious origins. “Vegetable oils” can also include unlabelled palm kernel oil, which is environmentally destructive, and I don’t like that they aren’t labelled clearly enough.
As a rule, I avoid overly processed ingredients – opting for oils that are cold / expeller pressed, and closest to their original state as possible. I find this type of thinking (and eating) is the easiest way to avoid ingesting too many toxins or empty calories – “is this made from ingredients in or close to their most natural form?” If yes, eat with abundance!
So, when I started exluding dairy from my diet for ethical reasons, I knew that I didn’t want to buy vegan margarines as a butter replacement. It was pretty easy to start with – baking with coconut oil, cooking with olive oil. Pretty much the only thing I was unable to replicate the taste and texture of was butter on toast. Until now! This 2 ingredient butter replacement had me face palming at the simplicity of the technique. Coconut oil, a healthy saturated fat that is solid at cool temperatures, is whipped with avocado (or mild olive) oil till light and fluffy. The result? Easy to spread, delicious and full of good fats.
A quick note on coconut oils: I use expeller pressed refined coconut oil – which is just as healthy as the extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil I usually use in my recipes, but without the coconut flavour (and it has a higher smoke point too). Make sure you get naturally refined coconut oil that hasn’t come into contact with bleach or other chemicals – “expeller pressed” means they can remove the coconut solids from your oil with pressure rather than chemicals. Be wary of cheaper brands and avoid hydrogenated coconut oil which contains trans fats.
You can use either avocado oil (my preference due to its mild buttery flavour), olive oil or even macadamia oil for a nuttier spread. This butter keeps as long as your ingredients are within their use by dates – the long shelf life is great for those of us that use butter predominantly on toast. I believe you could also use this butter as an alternative in baked goods – but I am yet to test this. Let me know if you do!
I’ve also included a sneaky recipe variation for maple flavoured butter – for all your sweet treat needs! Hint – it may also be featured in a recipe over the next coming weeks!