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Alternatives to Peanut Butter (and How to Make Them at Home!)

Written on July 8, 2011 at 12:46 pm , by


Photo courtesy of SparkPeople

Mmm, peanut butter. It has that ideal balance between sweet and salty, making it the perfect companion for everything from whole grain toast to celery sticks. And it’s an inexpensive source of protein and good-for-you monounsaturated fats. Generations of kids have gotten through the school day fueled by peanut-butter sandwiches and a carton of milk—you were probably one of them!

But what about the other nut butters out there? How about spreads made from almonds, cashews, and even seeds like sunflower? As an alternative to the old standby, consider these other products most easily found in gourmet, natural and/or organic grocery stores:

Almond butter: Like peanuts, almonds are a source of monounsaturated fats.

Cashew, pistachio or hazelnut butter: Like the nuts themselves, these butters are rich and slightly sweet. They make good additions to Indian curries or Mediterranean dishes.

Macadamia nut butter: Also rich and sweet, this type of nut butter is typically used with chocolate or fruit spreads, in desserts, or sweet snacks.

Seed butters: Pumpkin and sunflower seeds can be ground into a smooth paste and used like nut butter; both contain beneficial nutrients like zinc, iron and potassium. Tahini, made of ground sesame seeds, is a common ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine.

Unfortunately, truly natural butters are more expensive than most mainstream brands, which often contain additional ingredients (sweeteners, oils, etc). If you can find fresh-ground or grind-your-own nut butters (natural foods grocers carry them), you’ll find that the price per pound is somewhere in between major brands and natural, minimal-ingredient butters.

If you really want to cut the cost of buying nut or seed butter by the jar–while knowing exactly what’s going into your nut butter–consider making your own at home! Keep reading for a homemade nut butter recipe…

Homemade Nut Butter Recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread 2 cups of nuts or seeds (your choice) on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning, until nuts are fragrant. Cool slightly, then place the nuts or seeds into a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until a smooth paste forms. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt per cup of nuts or seeds if you’d like (this enhances the flavor; omit if you’re watching your salt intake). Kept in an air-tight container in the fridge; your homemade butter will last for weeks!

Nutrition and Serving Sizes:

Thanks to their healthy fats, all nut and seed butters are high in fat and calories. Regardless of nut variety (peanut, hazelnut, almond) and type (natural or regular), one 2-tablespoon serving has about 200 calories, 15% of your RDA for protein, and about a quarter of your daily allowance for fat. Watch your portions to keep your calories in check!

Type of Nut Butter (2 Tbs.) Calories Fat Protein Carbs
Peanut, no sugar added 190-210 16-17 g 7-8 g 6-7 g
Peanut, sugar added 190 16-17 g 7 g 6-7 g
Almond 190-200 18-19 g 5-7 g 6-7 g
Cashew 160-190 14-16 g 4-6 g 8-10 g
Hazelnut 180 17 g 4 g 5 g
Hemp 180 13 g 9 g 4 g
Macadamia 230 24 g 2 g 4 g
Pistachio 180-190 13-15 g 6-7 g 9-10 g
Pumpkin seed 160 13 g 10 g 4 g
Sesame tahini 190 17 g 6 g 7 g
Sunflower seed 180-220 12-20 g 6-9 g 5-9 g

Continued: Tasty Ideas for Nut Butters

More from Spark People:

  • http://healthyrecipesblogs.com/ Foodie

    I love peanut butter. I buy organic, but it’s the no-stir kind so not 100% clean in terms of ingredients. I also use PB2,mostly in baked goods such as these peanut butter muffins -

  • http://expatuncensored.com Voula

    I won’t go a day without peanut butter. I always make my own peanut butter from roasted peanuts (I live in Greece and the only available peanut butter here is the kind full of artificial ingredients – plus at about $8 for a small container, it’s just not worth buying!)

    I use it in peanut butter-banana protein shakes, or stir in a tablespoon in my oatmeal. It’s a great way to get healthy fats in your diet!

  • Judi

    Thanks for these ideas – my granddaughter is allergic to peanuts, as are many children these days… Great ideas for alternate proteins!

  • jill

    I would love to urge all of you peanut/ nut butter lovers out there to PLEASE be careful where you consume your treats. We have a child allergic to Peanuts/ cashews/ and pistachios, contact with any of these will make her tongue and throat swell shut in seconds, and require emergency medical treatment, a trip to the ER and shots of epinephrine. She had an exposure incident at the park once becuase parents let their children run around with PB+J sandwiches. We can’t fly because peanut residue is in the seats and on the trays. Luckily she goes to a peanut free school… but others like her have to eat alone at lunch time at a “Peanut free table” b/c parents insist on packing it for lunches. ETC. All I’m asking for is social responsibility and compasion for other peoples needs. Thanks!