Don’t get us wrong–we’d never knock the OG PB+J. Not only does it still hit the spot as an adult, it also has serious health benefits: (apologies in advance to our friends with nut allergies) but research shows that people who eat peanuts and other tree nuts tend to be healthier, leaner and even live longer than those who don’t. Plus they’re high in the good type of fats–mono and poly-unsaturated–which provide energy, support brain function, and even healthy skin.
That being said, peanut butter in particular can be a sneaky source of sugar and trans fats when they contain added sugar, corn syrup, palm oil, or partially hydrogenated oils (always read the label before you buy!) Plus, there are an array of other tasty nut butters–and seed butters–that provide just as many nutrients, if not more! Though vitamins and minerals vary, generally speaking most nuts contain magnesium, vitamin E, copper, phosphorus, and manganese, as well as antioxidants, including polyphenols, which help protect cells from damage.
Check out some of our favorite alternative nut and seed butters and spreads, what they taste like and how to use them:
The taste: Sweet, with a delicate, mild flavor
The new use: Dips
Step aside hummus–almond butter actually makes a tasty dip partner for veggies. Spice it up with a dash of soy sauce, lime juice, and ginger and pair with snap peas, broccoli, and red bell pepper strips. Plus, the good fat from almond butter will help you absorb the antioxidants in the veggies!
The taste: Rich and slightly bitter
The new use: Marinades
Often used in dips and dressings, tahini is an excellent marinade for chicken. It keeps the chicken from drying out on the grill, giving it a buttery texture and a nice char. Mix with lemon juice, olive oil, herbs and spices and let sit for 8 hours in the fridge, discard the marinade then grill. Wanna make it Mediterranean? Serve with an Israeli-inspired chopped salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, lemon juice, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
The taste: Creamy, buttery and rich
The new use: Sauces
The indulgent creaminess of cashew butter makes it a great stand in for dairy and cream in sauces—hence its widespread use in vegan “cheese” sauces. For a dairy free alfredo, mix store-bought cashew butter with nutritional yeast, garlic, sea salt, and an unsweetened plant-based milk. Or mix with coconut milk, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, lime juice, and sesame oil for an asian-inspired sauce to top noodle dishes or veggie bowls.
Sunflower Seed Butter
The taste: distinctive, roasted, slightly bitter
The new use: Smoothies
Balance your morning fruit smoothie with a natural source of protein and healthy fats by adding this creamy seed butter in place of a protein powder, which often contains a long list of artificial ingredients and sweeteners. Or instead of an overly-sweetened iced coffee, try a mocha smoothie: blend a frozen, chopped banana, 2 tablespoons each of sunflower seed butter, and cacao powder, and brewed coffee. Use cold coffee, or add ice for a thicker consistency.
Try our new Coconut-Cashew Chicken with Brown Rice & Veggies and Coconut-Cashew Veggies with Brown Rice which both feature our rich, dairy-free cashew sauce made with cashew and almond butter, thickened with unsweetened coconut milk, and flavored with garlic, coconut aminos, and ginger.