Every once in a while, you want to shake things up and swap out your regular peanut butter and jam routine for something a little more fun. But what to replace it with? Nut butters are hitting the grocery shelves hard and with so many options like walnut, coconut, macadamia, soy and sunflower, it’s hard to know which one would work best for your diet and lifestyle. We’ve got the butter breakdown on three contenders against peanut butter (almond, cashew and hazelnut) so you know what you’re putting on your breakfast and your kid’s lunch. Keep in mind all these spreads still have nuts, so while they’re great for an at-home snack, they’re a no-no when it comes to a quick and yummy school lunch.
Often mistaken for a nut, peanuts are actually legumes. Packed with crazy amounts of protein and monosaturated fats to promote heart health, peanut butter is a great option for athletes to add on a carb-filled food, or on apples for growing kids. Peanut butter is also packed with omega-6 fatty acids to help grow strong bones, fiber to help digestion and other vitamins like iron, B3 and B6 and vitamin E. However the more popular brands of peanut butter can contain high amounts of trans fats, hydrogenated oil and preservatives, which are counterproductive to all the good things in peanut butter.
Toss it in: Peanut butter and chocolate are already a perfect pair, but leave behind all that processed stuff and try peanut butter in your home made protein bars for that extra boost you need.
Easily the most popular alternative to peanut butter, almond butter has all the benefits you would find in peanut butter and then some. While peanut and almond are practically the same when it comes to carbs, protein and fat, almond butter has more calcium, iron and vitamin E than peanut butter. There are also more monosaturated fats, making it healthier for the heart than peanut butter as it lowers cholesterol Packed with more omega-6 and omega-3 acids and less sugar than peanut, almond butter is almost perfect. However almond butter can be a lot more expensive to find than and similarly to peanut butter, brands with added sugars and preservatives won’t do you much good, so make sure to read the label carefully.
Toss it in: Use it in your traditional peanut butter recipes (sandwiches and protein bars) and then make peanut butter jealous when you use chocolate and almond butter in this truffle recipe.
Another non-nut nut butter, cashews are actually seeds. While cashew butter has more omega-3 than peanut butter, it falls short of both almond and peanut in the protein and good fat category. Cashew butter makes up for this in minerals like zinc copper and iron, and monosaturated fats that are good for lowering cholesterol, but sometimes it has a higher sugar count than both the above butters, making it pack less of a punch than we hoped. Cashews themselves are a great snack, especially for diabetics.
Toss it in: If you want to try out cashew butter in a fun treat that your kids will devour, try the Cake Batter Energy Bars found in this article.
Another nut, hazelnut butter is full of healthy stuff like fiber, vitamin E and omega-6 acids. Low in saturated fats, hazelnut butter is also a good option for lowering cholesterol, but with less omega-3 acids and protein than peanut butter, it needs to be supplemented with something else to get a well-rounded hit of all the good stuff your child needs. Additionally, hazelnuts and hazelnut butter if often paired with chocolate and while the combination is great, it’s more sugar and preservatives that you don’t need.
Toss it in: Want that combination of hazelnuts and chocolate? Try our Nutella Stuffed Crepes recipe for a breakfast you and your kids will love.