Do you know what my biggest pet peeve as a dietitian (and a health nut) is?
Low-fat peanut butter. (See that play on words I did there? Health nut? No?)
The fat in peanut butter is the good kind of fat. If you don’t like peanut butter that’s one thing, but if you avoid it because you fear the fat content, fear no more. (And if you don’t like peanut butter, you’re in the minority. It’s a staple in a whopping 90% of American households and most of us consume about 6 lbs of the sticky goodness a year — that’s a lot of peanut butter!)
A single serving of peanut butter (2 Tbsp.) provides approximately 8 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. Of the 16 grams of fat in a serving, about 12 grams come from the healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated forms of fat. Peanut butter is also a good source of vitamin E, niacin, and manganese, among other vitamins and minerals.
While peanut butter has been a pantry staple as far back as most of us can remember, it’s not the only nut butter in town these days. (Peanuts have actually been around about 3,500 years, likely originating in South America.) Perhaps due to the “nostalgic food” trend that came along with the recession (and drove people back towards their favorite comfort foods of childhood), the popularity of peanut butter has exploded. With the peanut butter boom comes the opportunity to expand on this niche market and get a little creative — and sometimes crazy — with all different kinds of nut butters.
Butters made from these other nuts stack up nutritionally against peanut butter, sometimes even surpassing it depending on the ingredient list. So set your fat fears aside and start digging into a jar of the good stuff. Not to mention, the average kid will eat about 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by high school, so why not mix it up a little with different kinds of nut butters?
Photos courtesy of company websites.
Fancy Flavors 1 of 18
From cashews to almonds to even beyond nuts themselves, here are 12 nut butter trends to keep your eye on.
Chai Spice 2 of 18
I've tried my fair share of nut butters, but the idea of this one just blows my mind — in a good way. The delicious, warming spices of a Chai tea combined with almonds, peanuts, and wildflower honey? Sign me up. This blend includes cardamom, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, black pepper, and sea salt. I don't think I'd get past digging in with just my spoon on this one.
Trail Mix 3 of 18
A hiker's dream snack in a jar, this peanut butter combines creamy nuts with the dried fruit and seeds of trail mix. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, and cinnamon are mixed magically with peanut butter to create the perfect spread. Talk about a power-snack!
Mint Chocolate Chip 4 of 18
Now we're getting creative. Although it sounds like a flavor of ice cream rather than a protein packed nut butter, this peanut butter is flavored with mint and chocolate chips.
Coconut Butter 5 of 18
Not really a nut at all, coconut butter is something you simply have to try for yourself to believe the creamy, rich taste that melts in your mouth. Coconut butter contains coconut meat as well as the oil, so although it looks similar, it's not the same as regular coconut oil. Coconut is rich in lauric acid, which has anti-bacterial properties, and medium chain triglycerides, a type of fat that actually helps your body burn fat instead of storing it.
Honey Almond 6 of 18
For those a little skeptical of messing with tradition, almond butter is a good place to start. This variety sweetened with honey is a good transition from other non-natural peanut butters, especially if you're used to kinds with added sugar. Almonds are a good source of vitamin E and riboflavin, one of the B vitamins. This one would be delicious spread on apples — a perfect snack for kids and adults alike.
Chocolate 7 of 18
A twist on the slightly-traditional almond butter, this nut butter oozes chocolate. It comes in hazelnut too, making it reminiscent of other popular chocolate spreads in flavor, minus the extra sugar and chemicals.
Pumpkin Seeds 8 of 18
Not really a nut butter at all, it might as well be lumped in the "nut butter" category due to it's similar taste and texture. This one is packed with pepitas (pumpkin seeds), flax seed, hemp seed, and sunflower seeds, making it perfect for those allergic to peanut butter as well as those just looking for a little variety.
Extra Protein 9 of 18
If almond butter wasn't already packed with enough protein for you, this one has added whey protein to really amp it up. It also has flax seed to provide omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for so many things, included heart, brain, and joint health.
Espresso 10 of 18
You can have coffee with your almond butter, or you can have coffee in your almond butter. I say go for both, why not? I think it'd be delicious smeared on top of some chocolate chip pancakes. This vanilla espresso almond butter is full of flavor without being in-your-face.
Spicy 11 of 18
This one speaks directly to my heart, er, my taste buds. I love a good kick to my food and this one doesn't disappoint with its fiery blend of spices swirled into a jar of creamy peanut butter. This one would be great for melting over soba noodles for a quick Thai dish.
Nuts and Seeds 12 of 18
Why stop at just one nut or seed when you can have seven? This jar is chock full of nutrition thanks to a combo of seven different nuts and seeds: peanuts, cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and hazelnuts.
They also make a peanut-free version for those who aren't a fan or are allergic.
Butter Toffee 13 of 18
Forget plain old peanut butter or even honey roasted peanut butter, this variety is butter toffee flavored. Mmm mmm. In addition to peanuts it has flax seed and hemp seed, providing omega-3 fatty acids and an extra dollop of protein. It may sound like dessert in a jar, but the nutrition label proves otherwise.
Coconut Almond 14 of 18
Cashew 15 of 18
I had no idea I liked cashews until I got my hands on a jar of raw cashew butter. It's a milder flavor than peanut butter, especially cashew butter made with raw cashews that aren't roasted, but is rich and creamy. I love it spread on graham crackers or stirred into a bowl of oatmeal.
Hazelnut 16 of 18
Honey Pretzel 17 of 18
Pretzels and peanut butter might be one of my all-time favorite snacks, despite how childish it may sound. This peanut butter saves you the trouble of dipping by mixing peanuts, honey, and pretzels in one jar.
Pecan 18 of 18
Pecan butter is like peanut butter's fancy big brother. Maybe I think it's fancy because pecans automatically make me think of all my favorite fall desserts, but this stuff is good enough to eat on its own, and fun to swap for peanut butter in a sandwich with apple butter.