By Jillian Tuchman, MS, RD
If you reach for the almond butter whenever you’re making a smoothie, dessert, or salad dressing, and you’re constantly spreading it on bananas, apple slices and toast, it’s time to take a break.
You don’t have to part with almond butter forever (gasp!), but it’s a good idea to start mixing things up. When you eat the same thing day in, day out, your body doesn’t get the broad range of nutrients it needs. Plus, too many nuts can be tough on digestion and can even trigger skin rashes in certain people.
So grab a butter knife and read on for some of our favorite non-nut spreads:
SUNFLOWER SEED BUTTER
Brand We Love: Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter (unsalted, 16 oz, $10.97)
The most commercially available of the non-nut butters, sunflower seed butter has the same consistency as peanut butter. It’s a fantastic swap for both peanut and almond butters in recipes and is also tasty on its own. Sunflower seed butter is a great source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. Just don’t freak out if your baked goods take on a greenish tint after they’ve cooled – it’s a reaction between the chlorophyll in the sunflower seeds and the baking soda/powder.
How To Enjoy It: Update the old-school favorite by spreading some sunflower seed butter in the crevice of a celery stalk and throw a few raisins on top. Also, throw it into smoothies, and use as a marinade on chicken.
Brand We Love: Nutiva (15 oz, $7.98)
Though it has “nut” in its name, coconut is not a nut, it’s actually–wait for it–a fruit. (Don’t be confused by its recent “tree nut” designation by the FDA.) Coconut butter is coconut meat that’s been pulverized into a creamy consistency. Since it’s not really spreadable (unless you warm it), it’s easiest to use in smoothies, curries and baking. And it’s rich in lauric acid, one of the precious fat-burning MCTs – short for medium-chain triglyceride, MCTs are used more rapidly for energy, so you burn it off before it lands on your hips!
How To Enjoy It: Add 1-2 tablespoons of it to a cup of homemade or store-bought tomato sauce, for a creamier–but dairy free–version. Add to healthy baked desserts, or throw into shrimp curries.
APRICOT KERNEL BUTTER
Brand We Love: Blue Mountain Organic Apricot Kernel Butter (16 oz, $15.36)
Yep, you read that right: This butter is made from grinding the interior seeds of apricots. And it’s delicious, with a satisfying amaretto flavor – and they do taste a bit like your old friend almond. You may have heard that apricot kernels are toxic. That’s true of “bitter” kernels; the butter is made from “sweet” kernels. The sweet kernels in this tasty butter are nutritional powerhouses, chock-full of vitamin E, fiber and manganese.
How To Enjoy It: Add 2 tablespoons cacao, 1-2 tablespoons non-dairy milk, 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 2 tablespoons maple syrup and some cinnamon to a food processor or blender, along with 1 1/2 cups of apricot seed kernel butter. Give it a whirl and then use some to top your favorite pancake or waffle recipe, or spread it on a sprouted wheat bagel and top with bananas.
PUMPKIN SEED BUTTER
Brand We Love: Dastony Sprouted Pumpkin Seed Butter (8 oz, $12.21)
This green-hued spread is loaded with zinc, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids. It has a thinner consistency than most nut butters, but has a toasty, nutty flavor. This brand not only starts with sprouted seeds, which makes the butter healthier and easier to digest, but it also uses a stone-grinding technique that it says keeps more nutrients intact.
How To Enjoy It: Slather on sliced apples, whisk into salad dressings, or stir into oatmeal.
Brand We Love: Seed + Mill (11.6 oz, $10)
Tahini, made from sesame seeds, is incredibly versatile – use it in everything from desserts to salad dressings, dips and marinades. It also has a unique, distinctive flavor and it’s rich in calcium, iron, phosphorous and magnesium. Tahini is also a great source of L-methionine, an essential amino acid that aids in liver detoxification.
How To Enjoy It: Blend together 1/3 cup tahini, 1/3 cup water, juice of one lemon, 2 garlic cloves, and ½ tsp salt for one of the tastiest (and easiest) salad dressings out there. Also add it to salmon before roasting or grilling or into stir-fry veggies.