Nut & Seed Butters
From peanut to pecan—nut and seed butters are popping up in many different varieties and make a healthy and filling addition to many meals, snacks and desserts. Nuts and seeds are full of healthy fats, protein, and vitality-boosting minerals that help stabilize your blood sugar, and keep you satiated. But what’s the difference between the standard peanut spread, the harder-to-find cashew, and everything in between? Check out our breakdown of these spreadable delights and experiment with each to see which flavor and texture you like best!
Everyone is familiar with the humble peanut, but did you know that peanuts are not actually nuts—they’re legumes. Peanuts are full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, peanut butter is also a great source of antioxidants, vitamin E, folate, and protein.
Ways to enjoy: peanut butter goes with so many things—here’s our not-so-classic list of ideas: peanut butter ice cream, add it to smoothies and pancake batter (especially banana pancakes!), and schmear it on your bacon burger (oh yes, we went there!).
The second most popular substitute for peanut butter, almond butter, is sweet and textured. This is often the first choice nut butter when exploring new options due to its nutty, mellow flavor and availability. Almond butter is a heart healthy choice, high in calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, manganese, and fiber. If price point is a concern, try some of the other nut butters, as almonds have become increasingly expensive with the recent drought.
Ways to enjoy: stir into oatmeal, yogurt or soup. Spread it on sandwiches, add it to sliced banana or apple, in desserts, or as a replacement to peanut butter in recipes.
A slightly oily, and bitter nut, walnuts have a more distinct flavor than almond or peanut, but still make a great spread. These brain-shaped nuts are full of omega-3 fatty acids, manganese and B vitamins, all of which promote brain health. In addition, walnuts are very high in antioxidants, which help fight free radicals and reduce inflammation.
Ways to enjoy: stir into oatmeal, on fruit, or as an ingredient in raw desserts or cookies, and substitute for mayo in recipes.
Macadamia Nut Butter
Native to Australia, these tropical nuts are one of the healthiest options due to the fact that they are high in omega-9 fats, and lower in omega-6 fats, (which are more inflammatory). Macadamias are also high in B vitamins, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. This type of nut butter is more expensive and rare but gets extra points for being rich and creamy.
Ways to enjoy: use as a dipping sauce, substitute for butter in baking, raw dessert recipes, on fruit, or in smoothies.
The creamiest of nut butters, cashew butter is a favorite ingredient in raw desserts. Cashews, native to the Brazilian rainforest, are known for their sweet, delicate flavor, and dietary source for manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc. They have a lower fat and higher protein content than most other nuts. Cashews are high in heart healthy monounsaturated fats, which help contribute to healthy cholesterol levels.
Ways to enjoy: In smoothies, dressings, ice creams, pancakes, soups, cheese alternatives, Thai food, sautéed veggies, and on waffles.
Sunflower Seed Butter
Possibly the best substitute for peanut butter due to its similar taste, and favorable price point, sunflower butter is an economical favorite. Sunflower seeds are known for their high content of vitamin E, an important antioxidant that helps protect our cells from free radical damage. Sunflower seed butter is also an excellent source of B vitamins, magnesium, selenium, phosphorous, and folic acid.
Ways to enjoy: anytime you would use peanut butter!
Sesame Seed Butter (Tahini)
Another easy to make spread tahini, or ground sesame seeds, is a main ingredient in many dips and dressings. Sesame seeds are particularly high in calcium, and magnesium, two minerals essential to preventing bone loss. It is worth noting that hulled sesame seeds have a slightly lower nutritional value than unhulled, so buy the latter if possible.
Ways to enjoy: in hummus dips, eggplant dip, on top of sweet potatoes, salad dressings, smoothies, and cookies
Tips for Selection and Storage:
Because of their high oil content, nuts and seeds should be stored in a cool, dry area, out of direct sunlight. This is because the delicate oils found in nuts and seeds are highly susceptible to going rancid. Shelled nuts or seeds store best in the refrigerator or freezer.
Check out our calendar for some nut butter themed events coming up!