Up Your Nut Butter Game with Three Recipes from Ground Up

Did you know you can smuggle nut butters into Indian curries and Scandi baked goods?

By Benjamin Tepler December 31, 2019 Published in the January 2020 issue of Portland Monthly

Not just for toast! Hazlenut-chocolate nut butter is dynamite in dishes like this yogurt bowl, topped with granola, cocoa nibs, and fresh raspberries.

From a jolt of protein at breakfast to a caloric life raft for the modern office worker’s 3 p.m. crash, a nonperishable jar of creamy nut butter has your back.

One brand we regularly squirrel away in our desk drawer is Ground Up, a three-year-old, Portland-based company that makes some of the most addictive nut butter around. It also drafts 80 percent of its workforce from local nonprofits like Central City Concern and Outside In, giving women who are overcoming adversity real-world, résumé-building experience with a paid training program.

While it’s a great company to support, founders Carolyn Cesario and Julie Sullivan have made it easier for Ground Up fans to go full homesteader with the September publication of Nut Butter, sharing the formulas to their grinds, espresso stout to cinnamon snickerdoodle, plus ways to use them beyond toast. (Almond mole, anyone?) There are many reasons to make your own: customization (lemongrass! lavender!), quality control (goodbye, additives), but, mostly, the experience of spooning smooth, rich, still-warm almond-cashew-cardamom butter straight from the food processor.

Basic Nut Butter Formula

Each recipe makes 2 cups.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a single, even layer on a baking sheet, toast nuts until golden and fragrant: 10–12 minutes for almonds; 5–7 for cashews; 6–8 for walnuts; 10–12 for hazelnuts, removing skins. Let nuts cool completely.

2. Process nuts and sea salt in a food processor fitted with a metal S-blade until completely smooth, 5–15 minutes depending on your processor’s power, occasionally scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula.

3. Add remaining ingredients (if applicable) and process an additional 1–3 minutes, or until fully integrated. Nut butters will keep for a year without refrigeration. Stir before use.


Ground Up’s flagship grind plays double duty as a daily nut butter and flavor enhancer for cardamom-friendly recipes, like Indian curry or Scandinavian baked goods.

2½ cups unsalted almonds, toasted

1½ cups unsalted cashews,* toasted

1½ tsp sea salt

2 tbsp honey or maple syrup

½ tsp vanilla extract (or seeds scraped
from ½ vanilla bean)

2–3 tsp ground cardamom


A rich stand-in for tahini that’s dynamite in savory dishes, salad dressings to marinades.

3 cups unsalted walnuts, toasted

2 cups unsalted cashews, toasted

1 tsp sea salt


It’s Nutella, basically. Eat it, unabashedly,
by the spoonful.

2 cups unsalted hazelnuts, toasted

2 cups unsalted cashews, toasted

¾ tsp sea salt

½ tsp vanilla extract (or seeds scraped
from ½ vanilla bean)

¼ cup coconut sugar

2 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

*Cashews lend a creamy, natural sweetness without affecting flavor—hence their ubiquitous use in Ground Up’s recipes.

Recipes adapted from Nut Butter: Over 50 Clean and Simple Recipes to Fuel a Healthy Lifestyle

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