Peanut butter and jelly is as American as baseball and apple pie. Just the thought of that gooey goodness might take you back to your elementary school lunch room and or start the debate over strawberry vs. grape. These days you might not find peanut butter in most schools, due to the sudden rise in peanut allergies over the past few decades. According to a 2013 study by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, peanut allergies more than tripled between 1997 and 2008. No one can pinpoint a direct cause for the rise in peanut sensitivities, but food allergies in general have been rising steadily for years.
This leaves many parents to fear peanuts and their butter. But luckily peanuts are not the only kid on the block, jelly has plenty of new friends due to the explosion of alternative nut butters on the market. When the biggest question used to be, creamy or crunchy, now the decisions between almond, sunflower or cashew can be quite overwhelming.
To help you navigate the aisle and watch your wallet, I have created a quick guide to the best nut butters and how to use them. The main benefits of nuts and seeds is that they are high in natural fats, fiber and minerals. They also have a decent amount of protein and some are a good source of B vitamins as well. These little nutrient dense plant babies are also high in calories so remember a little goes a long way. A daily serving of one or two tablespoons is just what you need to enjoy the healthy benefits.
Most Popular – Almond Butter
After peanuts, the is the most famous nut butter due to the easy access to almonds and their enjoyable taste. This butter is slightly sweet and the right amount of nutty, even without any added sweetener. Almond butter is easy to swap for peanut butter but you will taste a difference. Watch out for added sugar in many store brands and opt for the unsweetened they add a touch of honey at home!
: Almonds considered one of the most nutritious nuts, they are high in copper, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, vitamin E and zinc. They can help to lower blood sugar levels and cholesterol.
Nut-Free Favorite – Sunflower Butter
Sunflower is a seed, not a nut, so this is a great choice for those with tree nut allergies. This butter is the closest to the peanut with it’s earthy flavor and creamy texture. Try using sunbutter for the PB&J sandwich or make Sunbutter cookies!
– Sunflowers seeds are high in vitamin E and potassium. They have been knowns to help improve digestions, increase energy and reduce inflammation.
Creamy and Dreamy – Cashew Butter
The creamiest and most versatile of all butters, but also one of the more expensive. This butter can and can be transformed into a sweet or savory and works well in many recipes. Cashews are a common dairy alternative ingredient in RAW diets and can be used to make creams and frostings.
Cashews are high in copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and antioxidants. Some people find that cashews can help regulate blood pressure and lower risk of heart disease.
Mediterranean Marvel – Tahini
Often forgotten, tahini is made from sesame seeds which are bursting with flavor and nutrients. Like most things from the mediterranean this butter is bold. The flavor is slightly bitter, creamy, nutty, and not sweet at all. Famous as the key ingredient in hummus, tahini can also be used in salad dressings, sauces and soups.
Sesame seeds are high in vitamin B1, calcium, fiber, iron and magnesium. They are often used to aid weight loss, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and improve blood sugar balance.
Brain Booster – Walnut Butter
Walnuts are dense, earthy and slightly bitter, making this butter can be a nutty treat. Walnut butter is best used as an added ingredients in recipes such as crusts, smoothies or cookies.
Walnuts are high in B vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. They are perhaps the best vegetarian source of the omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for total-body health.