Food focus: blended nut butters

 

 

 

Nuts are nutrition powerhouses: protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and key minerals like magnesium.  Nut butters are a popular, convenient and versatile form of nuts.   But nut butters have an inconvenient problem: they separate.  As the butter sits for awhile, the fats gradually separate out, and the oil rises to the top of the jar.  Until recently, the solution to this “problem” was hydrogenation.  Treat the nut butter to hydrogenate and solidify those pesky nut oils, so they stay put.  No more dealing with messy oily jars of nut butter.  Unfortunately, hydrogenation creates trans fats in the nut butters, and the war on trans fats led food companies to find alternatives to hold peanut butter together.  Enter palm oil, a naturally saturated fat.  Mix it into nut butters and the oils stay put without hydrogenation and trans fats.  The problem with palm oil is that palm plantations devastate tropical rain forests, turning large swaths into environmentally bizarre monocultures.

Walnut butter blend photo: Donna P Feldman

Walnut butter blend
photo: Donna P Feldman

Plenty of so-called “natural” nut butters in the grocery store contain palm oil.  That’s why it’s great to find a product that doesn’t use palm oil.  Nut-Tritious Foods makes nut butter blends that avoid palm oil and sugar sweeteners.  I had a chance to try some of these recently, and they’re a tasty and more truly natural alternative to palm-oiled sugar sweetened nut butters.

These nut butter achieve spreadability by blending more dense nuts, like almonds, hazelnuts, pecans or cashews, with sunflower seeds, which have a higher oil content.  Canola oil and flax seeds add some omega-3 fats.  Some varieties are sweetened with agave nectar or maple syrup.   The nut butters have a hearty, chewy texture.  The calorie content is similar to other nut butters, about 80-100 calories per TB.  Keep these nut butters in the refrigerator, to preserve the omega-3 fats.

These nut butters spread easily on toast, bagels, crackers, tortillas or pita bread.  Or use them straight from the container as a dip for raw vegetables or apple slices.  You can find Nut-Tritious Nut Butter blends at speciality food markets in the Pacific Northwest, including Whole Foods locations.  If you live outside the regions, you can order online.

Copyright: All content © 2010-2018 Nutrition Strategy Advisors LLC. Photographs © Donna P Feldman, unless otherwise attributed. Reproduction or use without permission is prohibited.