I used to hate my nut allergy. Growing up with a nut allergy meant never getting to enjoy Tim Hortons’ Timbits when one of my classmates brought them in to school. It meant being the dork who had to wear a fanny pack so I could carry my Epi-Pens with me at all times. It meant never knowing what a PB&J sandwich tastes like.
But now? I don’t mind it so much. There’s now a local bakery with nut-free baked goods to keep me happy. I ditched the fanny pack in grade 6 when I bought my first real purse. And I’ll still never know what a PB&J sandwich tastes like… but at least I now have a lot of alternatives!
Since discovering nut-free nut butter alternatives, my feelings about having a nut allergy have totally changed! It really doesn’t bother me so much anymore because I don’t feel like it restricts me – there’s always something I can replace it with. Of course I still feel a bit limited when it comes to packaged goods or eating from bakeries, but that just gives me incentive to get creative in the kitchen and make my own version!
This post highlights some of my favourite nut butter alternatives that I most commonly use in my kitchen:
Made from roasted soy beans, this is probably the closest nut-free alternative to peanut butter in terms of taste. Soy nut butter was actually my first experience with a nut free butter. I first tried it when I was away at camp, and I remember being scared to eat it because it looked so much like peanut butter! Well, I not only survived eating it, but I became hooked on it. The first thing I did when my mom came to pick me up from my 2 weeks away at camp – before I even said hi or hugged her – was ask to drive straight to the grocery store to buy a jar!
Nutrition notes: Good source of omega 6 and monounsaturated fat, protein, and fibre.
While soy nut butter is my peanut butter replacement for sweet recipes, I often use sunflower seed butter for the savoury ones. It works perfectly in place of peanut butter in stir fry sauces and other Asian dishes! That being said, it also works well in sweet recipes – but it imparts a noticeable sunflower seed flavour to the product.
Nutrition notes: High in monounsaturated fat, as well as protein, fibre, vitamin E, magnesium, vitamin B3, and zinc.
Favourite recipes: Tofu stir fry with sunflower seed butter sauce, PF Chang’s lettuce wraps*, African chickpea stew, Rad rainbow raw pad thai*, Sunbutter banana protein bars
*Sub sunflower seed butter for the nut butter used in the recipe
Unlike my other favourite nut butters, tahini (made from sesame seeds) has more of a bitter flavour. Because of this, I tend to use it exclusively in savoury recipes. I love pairing it with lemon in sauces and dressings, and of course it’s a necessity for hummus!
Nutrition notes: Good source of monounsaturated and omega 6 fatty acids, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B1, and vitamin B3.
Brands: Nuts to You Nut Butter, Silver leaf
If you like coconut, you will love this butter because its strong coconutty flavour. Unlike coconut oil, it’s made by pureeing coconut meat in a high speed food processor, so it retains all the fibre and other nutrients. It acts like coconut oil though in the way that it can change from solid to liquid when exposed to warmer temperatures – because of this, it’s great for “melting” over oatmeal or baked goods straight out of the oven!
Nutrition notes: Coconut butter is almost purely saturated fat – but don’t get scared away just yet! The saturated fat in coconut is different from the saturated fat in animal products, so it gets absorbed and burned for energy a lot faster. Don’t go and start eating a cup per day though – lots of research is still needed to determine the health effects of coconut.
This post just highlights some of my most commonly used nut butter alternatives, but these are by no means the only ones that are available. Over the years I’ve stumbled upon other kinds such as sunflower pepita butter, pepita butter, and even roasted pea butter. And whether you have an allergy or not, these are all delicious and healthy nut butter alternatives to try!
Has anyone tried any other nut butter alternatives that I didn’t highlight here?
What’s your favourite nutless butter?