Tasty (and nutritious) Peanut Butter Alternatives
Ah, peanut butter, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways – spread on toast, sandwiched between cookies, slathered on celery and dotted with raisins, and of course the iconic lunch box staple, the PB&J sandwich. The ways we enjoy peanut butter are seemingly limitless.
But lately we’ve been noticing some newcomers showing up on supermarket shelves and making their way into lunch boxes at schools across the nation. Does peanut butter need to move over and make way for some new friends at the lunch table?
No worries, there is plenty of room for all the nut butters and nut butter alternatives. For those of you who have a peanut allergy, or for those of you looking to shake up those sandwiches and snacks, here are some tasty alternatives.
Take a Look at our Delicious Nut Butters!
Almond Butter Crunchy
10 oz Jar / Item #056911
This spread has a mild flavor and a texture similar to creamy peanut butter, so it’s a great choice to add some protein to smoothies. Almond butter also pairs well with preserves and jams, so feel free to use it as you would peanut butter. Add richness to dips and desserts with almond butter. Almonds, like other nuts, are a source of monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are the “good” fats.
Generally, cashew butter has a mildly sweet taste and a light, creamy texture when compared with other nut butters. Cashews are rich in magnesium and copper, two essentials minerals that our bodies need. Makes you feel good about spreading cashew butter on your toast, doesn’t it? For a sweet, tasty treat, mix together equal parts cashew butter and date paste (1/4 cup of each will yield a 1/2 cup serving of dessert dip). Add in 1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and mix until well blended. Dip your favorite fruits or even veggies for a delectable appetizer or snack.
(To make date paste, 2 cups of Medjool dates pitted and chopped, plus 1/2 cup very hot water. Blend in a food processor until smooth. Date paste can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.)
Walnuts are a source of alpha linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid. Unlike the creamy varieties of nut butters, walnut butter has a heartier texture. This particular butter pairs well with savory dishes and makes a great dip for fresh vegetables. Stir it into your favorite pesto recipe for an instant flavor boost. The sweet/bitter taste isn’t for every palate; so don’t be surprised if your children don’t care for the flavor.
Sunflower Seed Butter
If you or someone you love is allergic to or sensitive to nuts of any kind, you may want to opt for sunflower seed butter. This creamy nut butter alternative is made by grinding toasted sunflower seed kernels. That’s it. It’s simple and simply delicious. The flavor is nutty and a little smoky. Check the label to see if the brand you are purchasing has processed the butter in a facility that also processes nuts, especially if you are purchasing this product for someone with a nut allergy or sensitivity. Or, you can simply make your own.
Of course, there are other butters out there worth a try. A few we like include Hemp Seed Butter, Soy Nut Butter, Pumpkin Seed Butter, Pea Butter (made from golden brown peas) and Flax Seed Butter.
And for those of you who have more sophisticated palates, look for gourmet nut butters and spreads with some added kick. Whether you prefer sweet or savory, the simple addition of a spice or two can change the flavor entirely. Your imagination is your only limitation. For example, add a dash of ginger and a splash of molasses and you’ve created a gingersnap nut butter. How about mixing maple syrup and cinnamon into that spread for a tasty morning treat? For those with a daring side, you could try sprinkling chili flakes or sriracha sauce into your spread of choice.
Some of the wilder entries in the spread category include espresso almond butter, chai spice peanut butter, chipotle pumpkin seed butter, and the list goes on.
Nut Butters and Nutrition
Nuts are good for you – in fact, they are so good the FDA approved a qualified health claim that reads, “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachio nuts, and walnuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. See nutrition information for fat content.”
Yes, We’re Nuts for Nuts!
So, it stands to reason that nut butters (as long as they are simply made from the whole nut and nothing else, and not processed using extreme heat) must also maintain some of the nutrients that make nuts a great choice for snacking.
How do they stack up nutritionally? Below is the skinny on some of the nut butters.
First and foremost, check the label before you buy. Is the spread simply dessert in disguise? Ideally there should be one ingredient on that label – the nut (or the seed). Skip the butters that have added sugar or salt and don’t be tempted by the “reduced fat” options. Often when the natural fat of the nut is removed, it is replaced with fillers.
Next, remember a serving size of peanut butter is 2 tablespoons, so use it sparingly. A portion size of other nut butters is just 1 tablespoon. A little really does go a long way.
|Sunflower Seed Butter
|*with salt added|
A few words of caution on some seemingly “smart” choices – avoid the chocolate hazelnut spreads you find on supermarket shelves. They are typically made with added sugars and oils. Opt instead to make your own chocolate spread by adding cocoa powder to your favorite nut or seed butter.
Nutritionally speaking, overall nut and seed spreads pack a lot of punch. Just remember to read the labels and use them sparingly and we think you just might find yourself switching up your standard PB&J for something a little bit out of the ordinary.