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Nut butters are finding a fervent following amongst health food enthusiasts today. Once reserved as a child-friendly sandwich filler, peanut butter now has a lot of competition! Today supermarket shelves are stocked with exotic butters made from almonds, cashews, walnuts and even seeds like pumpkin and sesame. Sweetened, unsweetened, flavoured, no-oil added, and so on make these nut butters quite versatile. But with the many food fads doing the rounds, many of my clients want to know, “Are nut butters healthy for you?”

According to the American Heart Association,

“People who regularly eat nuts or nut butters have a lower risk of heart disease or Type 2 diabetes than those who do not include them in their diet.”

Nuts, and by extension, nut butters, provide a host of health benefits. Packed with quality protein and healthy fats, nut butters also provide fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. But do look out for added sugar and unhealthy fats, both of which would negate the goodness that nut butters provide.

How nutritious can nut butters be?

For a breakup of the nutrient content of nut butters, let’s have a look at almond butter which contains a good amount of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.

A two tablespoon serving of unsweetened almond butter provides

  • 200 calories
  • 6-7 g of protein
  • 18 g of fat

Loaded with Vitamin E, riboflavin, calcium, zinc, copper and magnesium, almond butter can be a good addition to your meals.

Creative ways to use nut butters

Nut butters can certainly be used as a sandwich spread, but they also work well when added to yogurt or used as a dipping sauce. They can be added to oatmeal porridge, granola bowls or smoothies too, to increase the nutrition and satiety index.. A few slices of an apple or pear dunked in almond butter can make a delicious and satiating evening snack. And if you’re feeling adventurous, nut butters form a wonderful base for creamy salad dressings and stir-fry sauces.

Which nut butter should you choose?

With the variety of nut butters available today, it can seem difficult to decide which one you ought to go for. Rather than focussing on the choice of nut, I think it’s more important to ensure that they do not contain unhealthy add-ons. In particular, do look out for added sugar and fats, particularly partially or hydrogenated fats and oils. Honestly speaking, I’d say, “Eat the nut butter that you like as long as it’s made with clean ingredients.”

Can you make nut butters at home?

Yes! If you would like to go the extra mile and make nut butters at home, here’s a really easy recipe. All you need is two basic ingredients and a high-speed blender. I’ve made almond butter at home a few times and I’ve always been happy with the results. Do give it a try and let me know what you think.

Nut butters: a jar of peanut butter surrounded with whole peanut pods

Almond Butter

Course: Snack


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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Servings 32 tbsp

Ingredients

  • 3 cups raw almonds
  • ¼ tsp salt
Optional
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 tbsp honey or maple syrup

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Spread the almonds across a rimmed baking sheet and warm the almonds in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
  • Transfer the just-warm almonds to the bowl of a high-speed blender or food processor. Initially pulse and then process until the almonds go from whole to large chunks to crumbly to finely ground. Keep scraping down the almonds, and continue to process until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  • Blend in the salt and optional add-ins.
  • Cool the almond butter and then transfer to a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tbspSodium: 18mgCalcium: 36mgVitamin C: 1mgVitamin A: 1IUSugar: 1gFiber: 2gPotassium: 95mgCalories: 79kcalTrans Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gFat: 7gProtein: 3gCarbohydrates: 3gIron: 1mg

If you try this recipe, share a photo with #nutritionrefinery • I’d love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook.