Healthy Alternatives: Nut Butters

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Meet my nut butter family – from left to right: Peanut butter, sesame butter, almond butter, tahini and cashew butter.

I use these in many different ways as they are a tasty way to add healthy fats and protein into the diet. They are also very filling, so a little goes a long way!

Spreads

Most commonly, I spread a nut butter over crackers, pancakes vegetable sticks or apple slices. I find nut butters healthier alternatives to jams or other spreads.

Sauces

I sometimes add sesame butter to a dressing of olive oil and lemon which I use over vegetables or salads.

Smoothies

On days when I want to add a little more protein to a smoothie, I add a spoonful of almond or peanut butter. I find that peanut butter goes well particularly with cacao or carob flavored smoothies.

Desserts

Many raw food desserts use nut butters as an ingredient – particularly cashew butter as it has a light yet very creamy texture. I also find that almond butter goes extremely well with apple or apricot pies.

What to look for

Like most healthier alternatives, the less ingredients, the better! In this case, only look for one ingredient – the nut, without added salt, sugar or oils.

And also…

The difference between sesame butter and tahini is that the seeds in the sesame spread are unhulled (whole) and so contain more nutrients and taste, while tahini uses sesame seeds with the outer layer removed, giving it a lighter color. I use tahini to make spreads such as humus and baba ghanoush and also combine it with a little olive oil, lemon and garlic to make a sauce that goes well with Arabic food, particularly falafel.

The highest protein content of these butters is peanut butter since despite the name, peanuts are actually part of the legume (bean) family, rather than the nut family. I guess that doesn’t technically make it a nut butter…