The days of a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich are long gone. With the influx of varietal nut butters at high end retailers, sandwich possibilities have become endless. Not to mention the smoothie, dessert, and yes, even dinner recipes. Nut butters are having a serious moment, and we’re not complaining. When purchasing, go for minimally processed options (like the one’s we’ve included) when possible to avoid excessive sugar and sodium.
Peanut Butter, The Classic
This lunchtime staple holds its own among the trendier nut butters on this list. One serving of peanut butter is packed with protein (8 g), magnesium (49 mg), potassium (208 mg), and good-for-you monounsaturated fat. Despite the fact that its 180 to 210 calories per serving, its actually great for diets because of its high protein and fiber content to keep you feeling full for longer. Research has also shown that eating peanuts can decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions. To switch things up, try adding some into a traditional soy sauce sautee for added creaminess and nutty flavor. We love Justin’s Nut Butter snack packs and Good Earth’s Crunch Coconut.
Cashew Butter, The Expensive One
These pricey nuts have a much more sweet and soft taste than the other nut butters on this list. It’s probably what makes them so versatile in cooking – they can be used as a sweet, savory, smooth, or crunchy compliment to many meals. Dieters beware – a whopping 75% of the calories in cashew butter come from fat, and 20% of those from saturated fat. While they do provide 3 grams of protein and nutrients per serving, they’re the most indulgent nut on this list. For fun, we recommend making your own! Simply soak the nuts in a bowl overnight, drain the water, and throw them into your food processor. We like to add coconut milk (and some stevia) and enjoy the cashew coconut cream on top of pancakes as part of an indulgent Sunday morning breakfast.
Almond Butter, The New Kid
Almond Butter has become especially popular in recent years. Some folks with peanut allergies can still enjoy it and the wide availability of almonds means it’s not too expensive either. The taste is much milder than peanut butter and the skins of the almonds create a nice crunch in the smooth butter. It has more Vitamin E (4 mg) than peanut butter (2 mg) that helps to neutralize free radicals, preventing these harmful chemicals from oxidizing your DNA and proteins. It adds a nice mild flavor (and serving of protein) in fruit smoothies and breakfast oats too. We like to top brown rice cakes with almond butter and blueberries for a refreshing breakfast. We love Tierra Farm‘s unsalted version and Barney’s snack packs.
Sunflower Butter, The One You Hadn’t Heard of
According to the USDA, sunflower butter has significantly more unsaturated fat, magnesium, zinc, iron and vitamin E than peanut butter! While it contains less protein and fiber than peanut or almond, it packs a punch in the nutrient department. Magnesium in particular helps reduce the severity of asthma, lower high blood pressure, and prevent migraine headaches, as well as reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Sunflower seed’s phytosterols have also been found to lower cholesterol, enhance the immune system, and decrease risk of certain cancers. Seriously, we’re pretty impressed by this newcomer. We recommend trying it out for yourself with Wild Friend’s chocolate or honey sunflower spreads.
Tahini (Sesame) Butter, The Black Sheep
Sesame seeds are pureed into a spread that is delightfully tangy, and much different than nut butters. It’s regularly used in Middle Eastern cooking and makes a great ingredient in salad dressings, hummus, and stir-fries. Eating it alone can be a bit bitter so its best to mix it up and compliment other flavors. It contains thiamin (good for your nervous system, muscles and digestion), phosphorus (important for bones and teeth), and copper (helps keep your blood vessels and bones healthy). It’s also one of the best sources of calcium out there. We recently tried a roasted cauliflower dish doused in fresh, creamy tahini and it was amazingly good. We recommend Woodstock Farm’s organic tahini.