Feb 292012

nut butterFor generations we’ve loved the creamy, delicious and nutritious stick-to-your-ribs satisfaction of peanut butter — but it’s time to look beyond the peanut. Although most nuts and seeds share similar qualities, each boasts its own nutritional perks – from fat-burning potential, to heart disease and cancer protection – that become concentrated when the nuts are ground into butters.

Sales of these delectable and nutritious peanut butter alternatives skyrocketed almost 17% last year, and you’ll spot them on shelves everywhere. They all contain protein, fats, antioxidants, and are naturally low in carbs. Even better, you can make them right at home. Nut butters are a great choice for vegans—high in protein, nutrition, and dairy free.

Almond Butter

Almonds are one of the best food sources of Vitamin E, with about one third of the daily value per ounce. It’s also rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium to help strengthen bones and maintain muscle and nerve function. These nutrients also boost the body’s immune system and help ward off disease and infection.

Taste: Mild and silky — It’s perfect on some toasty wholegrain with a drizzle of honey.

nut butter snackCashew Butter

During his heyday, muscleman Arnold Schwarzenegger swore by cashew butter. It contains iron, which, combined with its high protein content, will pump you up. It has less fat than other nut butters and is rich in protein. It’s also an excellent source of oleic acid, which reduces LDL cholesterol and decreases the risk of heart attack.

Taste: Light and creamy — Add some banana slices and a sprinkle of coconut on a crisp English muffin, or include in a sauce for noodles to pump up protein.

Macadamia Butter

Macadamia nuts are high in monounsaturated fatty acid (“good” fat), which can help reduce overall cholesterol levels. Eighty percent of fat in macadamia oil is monounsaturated – six percentage points higher than olive oil. The macadamia nut is one of the few foods that contain palmitoleic acid, that studies indicate may actually aid in fat metabolism.

Taste: Buttery and delicate — For a special weekend treat, spread two slices of thick bread with macadamia butter and a small amount of orange marmalade. Dip in egg, and fry in a lightly buttered pan.

Pecan Butter

Pecans are loaded with Vitamin A, E, several B Vitamins, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc to help strengthen bones and pump up your immune system.

Taste: Sweet — Spread on apples or pears for a great detoxifying snack.

Soy Butter

This is the first alternative nut butter I tried years ago from Trader Joe’s, and I still use it today. Soy nut butter contains less total and saturated fat than peanut butter, offers an alternative for those with nut allergies, and provides 7 grams of beneficial soy protein per serving.

Taste: It is remarkably similar to peanut butter in taste and texture. Have a traditional sandwich with banana and honey, or try soy nut butter cookies for a sure crowd pleaser.


Made from sesame seeds, a serving has less saturated fat than peanut butter, as much protein, and more fiber. Tahini is rich in calcium, iron, and Vitamins B and E, which slow cellular aging. It’s also a superior source of methionine, an amino acid that detoxifies the liver.

Taste: Like sesame seeds on steroids — I like the traditional dressing with lemon juice and tamari for a healthy alternative to bottled dressing.

Walnut Butter

Walnuts are the best option for omega-3 fatty acids. Eating a daily serving may lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease, and maintain elasticity of the arteries, which aids in circulation.

Taste: Intensely toasty — Try it as a condiment on a grilled chicken sandwich, or inside a pita with lettuce.

Nut Butters for Weight Loss

For those of us watching our weight, nut butters may be able to help achieve and sustain weight loss goals. By creating a longer lasting sense of “fullness”, we consume fewer calories by reducing high calorie snack cravings. One serving size is 1-2 tablespoons, and can contain 100-220 calories. This is truly a case of a little bit goes a long way—nutritionally, and with your taste buds.

Make your own Nut Butter

Check out this video on how easy it is to make your own nut butters by simply using your food processor. I love this idea because then we have control of how much sugar or salt to add. I did some research online and you can spend anywhere from $29.95 to $499.00 and up for a specific nut butter maker. I think I’ll stick to the food processor.

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