Nut Butters and Alternatives

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nut-buttersGrowing up, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich was a staple in my lunch box. But as awareness of the danger of peanut allergies increases, many schools have become peanut-free. Luckily for parents who like quick-to-make lunches, there are many alternatives to peanut butter.

Because peanuts are actually a legume and not a nut, not all people with peanut allergies are allergic to tree nuts, and vice versa. While some classrooms and schools have gone nut-free entirely, others may still allow tree nuts and tree nut spreads.

Generally speaking, nut butters are high in protein and healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. They also contain a spectrum of vitamins and minerals. If your child’s school or classroom is one that allows tree nuts, consider nut butter spreads, available at your local natural health food store or food co-op. Some options are pistachio butter, hazelnut butter, cashew and almond butter.

If tree nuts are banned in your child’s school or classroom, a variety of other seed and soy spreads are available. Seed and soy butters are good sources of protein and high in many essential nutrients. Some great options include soy nut butter, hempseed butter, pumpkin seed butter, sunflower seed butter and tahini (sesame seed butter).

Here some tips when buying nut butters and alternatives – read the label and look for the following:

• Minimal ingredients: A good quality nut or seed butter is made with nuts and sometimes nut or seed oil and a small amount of salt. If salt is an ingredient, be sure to check the sodium content to make sure it is reasonable. If there is added sugar, leave it on the shelf.

• Organic : Nuts have high levels of protein and fat, thereby causing them to absorb pesticide residue. By choosing organic nut and seed butters whenever possible, we can avoid ingestion of low levels of pesticides.

Instead of buying commercially made products, preparing your own nut or seed butter is an option. It’s simple, saves money, and can be personalized to suit your family’s taste buds. This is also a great activity to do with your kids. Here are some tips when preparing your own nut or seed butter.

• Roast nuts or seeds at 350 F until golden brown. Time will vary greatly depending on type and size of nut or seed. Keep a close eye on them and stir them occasionally so they don’t burn.

• Add roasted nuts to a food processor and blend until creamy-smooth texture is achieved.
If desired, add a bit of neutral-tasting oil – like coconut oil – to make it creamier.

• You can add a bit of sea salt, according to your taste.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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February 2023