Allergen Friendly Nut Butters

Peanut and tree nut allergies are…scary, to say the least. But more and more products are popping up to allow people with nut allergies the option to enjoy “peanut butter” and jelly sandwiches, “peanut butter” cookies, and other foods containing allergen- and hopefully worry-free alternatives.

As you peruse the grocery store peanut butter aisle, you will see a number of nut butter alternatives with jars stating phrases like “100% nut free,” “peanut free,” “0% peanuts,” and “nutty butter without nuts.” As a peanut and nut butter FANATIC, my first thought was “peanut and nut free NUT butter?!  Is that a joke?” My second thought, “actually, what an awesome idea and the perfect way to allow those with peanut and tree nut allergies the opportunity to enjoy the classic PB&J or the more recent ‘add nut butter in everything for extra protein’ craze.” A third thought, “wait, do they actually taste like peanut butter?” A quick internet search lead to finding customer reviews of  nut free and allergen free nut butters boasting comments like “It tastes just like peanut butter!” and “Wow I can’t believe it! Finally, a peanut free butter that tastes like the real thing.” My curiosity was sparked, and I knew I had to try these products for myself.

I decided on three nut free peanut butters, all made from various legumes or beans. My taste test choices were No-Nut Butter, a yellow pea-based alternative; and The Amazing Chickpea, a chickpea-based alterative, and WowButter, a soy-based alternative. The following are brief reviews of each product:

No-Nut Butter

Main Ingredient: Yellow Peas

Product Highlights: non-GMO; 100% nut free; gluten, dairy, hydrogenated oil, soy, high fructose and artificial free

Appearance: pudding-like; waxy; slightly grainy; lighter color and runnier consistency when compared to shelf-stable peanut butter

Texture: dry; grainy/gritty; dense; easy to spread, but runny consistency may cause it to spill off edges

Scent: light; sweet; acidic

Taste: astringent; sweet; slightly salty; taste similar to pancake syrup or Cookie Butter

Nutritionals

  • Calories per serving (2 tbsp): 180
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Fat: 13 g
  • Carbohydrate: 12 g
  • Sugar: 4 g (4 g added sugar)
  • Sodium: 130 mg

Uses: baked goods or a stand-alone with your favorite crackers, fruits, or veggies

The Amazing Chickpea

Main Ingredient: Roasted Chickpea Flour

Product Highlights: low-fat; high in iron and fiber; 0% peanuts; spreadable

Appearance: smooth; glossy; solid; lighter in color and slightly thinker consistency when compared to self-stable peanut butter

Texture: soft, silky, creamy; palatable; crunchy due to pieces of roasted chickpea; somewhat difficult to spread

Scent: stale; faint; similar to playdough

Taste: slightly salty; stale; nutty; grain-like; very similar to the taste of a whole chickpea

Nutritionals

  • Calories per Serving (2 tbsp): 170
  • Protein: 5 g
  • Fat: 11 g
  • Carbohydrate: 13 g
  • Sugar: 4 g (2 g added sugar)
  • Sodium: 90 mg

Uses: in savory dishes (sauces or dressings), on a sandwich, in baked goods, or a stand-alone with your favorite crackers, fruits, or veggies

WowButter

Main Ingredient: Whole Toasted Soy

Product Highlights: peanut free; 1000mg omega-3; gluten and hydrogenated oil free; no stir; non-GMO; vegan; safe for school

Appearance: smooth; glossy; semi-solid; exact color and consistency when compared to shelf-stable peanut butter

Texture: slightly gritty; sticky; dry; thick; crunchy due to pieces of roasted soybean; and easy to spread

Scent: light; nutty

Taste: rich; nutty; salty; very strong soybean flavor

Nutritionals

  • Calories per serving (2 tbsp): 200
  • Protein: 7 g
  • Fat: 15 g
  • Carbohydrate: 8 g
  • Sugar: 4 g (2 g added sugar)
  • Sodium: 90 mg

Uses: in savory dishes (sauces or dressings), on a sandwich, baked goods, or as a stand-alone with crackers, fruits, or veggies

Final Thoughts

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with all three of the products. Each had their own unique flavor and texture, as well as individual product highlights. WowButter has the most similar nutritionals to peanut butter, while The Amazing Chickpea was most similar in appearance and consistency. A couple usability notes, each of the products needed to be stirred once upon initially opening them, but I notice no separation after this. The No-Nut Butter and WowButter were both a little runny unless refrigerated, while The Amazing Chickpea remained a similar consistency at room temperature. As briefly mentioned above, the uses for the products vary. While I could see myself biting into a WowButter or The Amazing Chickpea and jelly sandwich, No-Nut Butter is way too sweet and would be better off accompanying crackers, fruits, or veggies. Each of these products would be delicious in baked products, such as cookies, but when it comes savory dishes, The Amazing Chickpea is the only product whose flavor would pair well. Unless you are cooking pad Thai, then I could see using WowButter.

Finally, the most important question, do any these products “taste just like peanut butter”? My answer, NO WAY! That being said, each product serves as a delicious and safe alternative for those with peanut or other nut allergies. Give the products a try and taste for yourself before passing judgement or believing the hype.

Disclaimer: While trained in nutrition, I am not an allergen specialist and before using any of the products discussed in this post as an appropriate alternative to peanut or nut butter,  you should first get your physician’s opinion. Some people with peanut allergy and also allergic to soy and/or tree nuts.  Additionally, I have no product loyalty to any of the products under review. I am simply a curious customer who was interested in nut free peanut butter alternatives.

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