Peanut butter is definitely one of my all-time favorite healthy foods, but there’s more to nut butters than just peanuts. Discover all the possibilities — each comes with its own healthy fats, protein and unique nutrients.
Where? What? How Much?
You can find various nut butters at health food as well as large chain grocery stores. They’re available in both crunchy and creamy varieties. Look for brands with nothing but nuts and salt (and in some cases, a little bit of extra oil). A little goes a long way; nuts are high in good-for-you calories but keep portions to 1-2 tablespoons.
Almonds are packed with calcium and magnesium for healthy bones. They are also full of hunger-fighting fiber. Whisk almond butter in salad dressings and soups to add flavor and richness (it’s a great complement to curry powder). Almond butter can also give flavor and texture to cookies.
Cashews are a good source of copper and vitamin K, both important for your blood and bones. The buttery and mild flavor makes it perfect for spreading on toasted whole-grain bread or apple slices. In case you can’t find cashew butter at your local health food store, here is a simple recipe to make your own.
These nuts are high in monounsaturated fat (much like olive oil) and especially high in manganese, which is good for energy production. Macadamia butter is sweet and creamy; add it to dips and sauces for chicken or fish.
Peanuts, which are technically a legume, not a nut, contain folate for healthy cells, niacin for energy production and even some choline. Natural peanut butter is always the way to go. Many store-brands are loaded with sugar and partially hydrogenated oils (a.k.a. trans fats). Some people are put off because the natural versions tends to separate. The trick is to shake — or stir — really well and then store in the refrigerator. If shaken or stirred enough, it shouldn’t separate after being chilled (Trader Joe’s makes natural PB that has never separated on me). There are also well-blended natural versions you might find that don’t require mixing. Use natural peanut butter to make a yummy and satisfying breakfast smoothie, snack bar or our favorite on-the-go lunch, PB&J.
They may be a little harder to come by but try looking for hazelnut, pistachio and walnut butters. Though they aren’t technically nuts, you can also find seed butters at your local grocer. Tahini (made from sesame seeds) is a key ingredient in hummus, and soy nut butter and sunflower seed butter can offer allergen-free substitutes for peanut butter.