There are plenty of nut and seed butter options in stores today that offer unique flavors and nutrition profiles—and almost endless ways to use them in recipes. Give these tempting spreads a shot.
1. Cashew Butter
With an indulgent, buttery taste, cashew butter won’t disappoint. And it’s rich in a kind of fat you want in your diet: monounsaturated. Studies suggest that swapping out high-saturated fat foods for those containing monounsaturated fat can improve cholesterol numbers, making this spread particularly ticker-friendly.
Try it: Ixnay the heavy cream in creamy soups and chocolate sauces such as ganache, and stir in cashew cream instead. Simply place cashew butter in a blender with just enough water to barely cover it and blend until super smooth.
Similar in texture and flavor to peanut butter, sunflower seed butter is increasingly popular in schools where PB is eschewed. But you don’t need to be a kid to enjoy its essential omega fatty acids and magnesium, a mineral that shows promise in combating colon cancer, a particularly deadly form of the disease.
Try it: For a fresh twist on hummus, blend together 1/2 cup sunflower butter, 1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, juice of 1 lemon, and 1 teaspoon cumin in a food processor. Use as sandwich spread or dip for crudités.
We like: SunButter Organic Unsweetened Sunflower Seed Spread (sunbutter.com)
3. Hazelnut Butter
When it’s not covered in unflattering palm oil, chocolate, and as much sugar per serving as four and a half Oreos, you’re able to notice—and become addicted to—the rich, smoky notes of hazelnut butter. You’d never guess that you’re also getting a medley of nutrients including vitamin E and copper, which is vital for proper iron metabolism, immune health, and collagen synthesis (read: It’s necessary for bone and skin health.)
Try it: Spread hazelnut butter on apple slices, a piece of dark chocolate, or whole-grain crackers. Or jazz up your next salad dressing by blending together 1 tablespoon hazelnut butter, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 teaspoon orange zest, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, and 1/4 cup olive oil.
A tropical vacation for your mouth, coconut butter is made by pureeing high-fiber coconut flesh into a buttery consistency, unlike coconut oil, which is produced by pressing oil from the flesh. Still shunning coconut because you think it high levels of saturated fat are horrible for your heart? The latest research calls into question this long-held belief, so you can stop thinking of this decadent food as the devil.
Try it: It’s a killer addition to smoothies, cooked cereal such as oatmeal, roasted sweet potatoes, and toasted English muffins.
We like: Nutiva Organic Coconut Manna (nutiva.com)
Grinding up jack-o’-lantern castoffs produces an earthy-tasting emerald spread that’s chockablock with magnesium, vitamin K, and phosphorus. Like calcium and vitamin D, phosphorus is imperative to maintain strong bones and teeth, and it’s involved in energy metabolism. Further, phytosterols in pumpkin seeds can inhibit cholesterol absorption in the intestine, thereby lowering your cholesterol score.
Try it: Make a quick, nutritious snack by smearing pumpkin seed butter on a small whole-grain tortilla and topping with sliced apple and chopped dried apricots.
Listen up vegetarians and vegans: Walnut butter has more omega-3 fatty acids—particularly alpha-linolenic acid—than other nut butters. ALA may slash the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to recent studies, and while the exact reason for this connection isn’t yet known, don’t let that stop you from sampling the tempered bitterness of this butter.
Try it: In a food processor, blend together 1/3 cup walnut butter, 1/2 cup dried mission figs, 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves into a paste. Roll into balls and chill for at least an hour. Keep refrigerated for a grab-and-go snack.
A good alternative for those allergic to nuts, soynut butter is gleaned from dried, nutty soybeans, so it comes out on top of this list for hunger-quelling protein. Other perks include magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin K, and folate, a B vitamin linked to a lower risk of developing hypertension.
Try it: Blend a dollop of soynut butter with 1/2 cup each almond milk and Greek yogurt, a frozen banana, and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a creamy smoothie. And for a satisfying afternoon bite, dip celery sticks into it.
All it takes to make homemade nut butter is the press of a button—and patience, as some nuts take longer to process than others. For a deeper flavor, roast the nuts in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes, then cool to room temperature before blending. (If you use hazelnuts, it’s advisable to rub off their skins after roasting.) You can stick to plain Jane, or experiment with add-ins such as cocoa powder, ground flaxseed, honey, cinnamon, orange zest, or even chipotle chili powder. Take things to the next level by blending different nuts, such as almonds and pecans.
2 cups nuts
1 tablespoon oil (we like coconut)
Directions: Place ingredients in a food processor and blend on high until creamy, wiping down the sides of the container a few times. The nuts will go through three stages: first chopped, then lumpy, and finally smooth. If the mixture is not becoming creamy enough, add a little extra oil. Store in the refrigerator for about a month.
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By Matthew Kadey, R.D.
Long limited to two options—creamy or crunchy peanut butter—taste buds (and those allergic to the legume) screamed with joy when almond butter hit the marketing, giving everyone something new to combine with their jelly.
But if your spark for AB has waned (as happens in every relationship), there are plenty of other options in stores today that offer unique flavors and nutrition profiles—and almost endless ways to use them in recipes. Give these tempting spreads a shot. They're so good, you'll have to fight to keep yourself from eating them straight from the jar.
Check out the slideshow above to discover new nut and seed butters.