Healthier allergy-free alternatives to peanut butter: Nut and seed butters

Oct 29, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. ET

Love the taste of peanut butter but need to avoid it because you or someone in your family has a peanut allergy? Or perhaps you're bored with the old PB standby and just curious about sampling new nutty spreads. Whatever your reason to give PB a boot, there is a delicious array of healthy and allergy-free alternatives. Here are some nut and seed butters to spread on your bread or try in the following suggested recipes.

Almond Butter

Almond butter

Who needs peanuts when you've got almonds? Known for their ability to reduce the risk of heart disease and cholesterol levels, almonds are also chockfull of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Almond butter can be found next to the peanut butter on the supermarket shelf, or you can grind it yourself at some natural food stores. It is typically less salty than PB, but is just as creamy and can easily replace peanut butter in most recipes. Starbucks is even jumping on the almond butter bandwagon, serving it on a multigrain roll as part of its new breakfast lineup.

Soynut butter

Vegans delight! This fiber-full spread — made from fresh roasted whole soybeans — has a similar texture to peanut butter but contains much less saturated fat and is completely cholesterol-free. Plus, the soynut spread features seven grams of soy protein, a heart-healthy component that reduces cholesterol and increases bone density. For a sweet treat, bake up a batch of these yummy soynut butter cookies.

Hemp-seed butter

Health-minded hippies have been hailing hemp as the next best thing for years. But today, hemp-seed butter (made from the soft interior of the seed from the hemp plant) is slipping into the mainstream as a protein-packed spread. Containing more omega fatty acids than all other nut butters, hemp-seed butter is free of trans fats, cholesterol, sugar, gluten, preservatives and hydrogenated oils. It may take a while to get used to its greenish tone (thanks to its high content of chlorophyll), but the spread's delicious on a roll or mixed with yogurt and fruit for a smoothie.

Sunflower seed butter

What do you get when you grind up sunflower seeds and vegetable oil? Sunflower butter, of course! One serving of sunflower butter (about two tablespoons) is packed with almost 70 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin E, plus eight percent of iron. Sunbutter also offers twice as much fiber and just as much protein as peanut butter. Try it on a sandwich or in a savory dish, like chicken pasta with sunflower butter.

You can also try pumpkin seed butter, golden pea butter, sesame seed butter (also known as tahini), cashew butter and macadamia nut butter. Look for these tasty nut and seed butters at your local natural foods store or do an Internet search to order online.

And if you are avoiding peanut butter due to a peanut allergy, be sure to read the label on all nut and seed butters to make sure the product wasn't processed in a plant that also processes peanuts.

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