Nuts and seeds have a long history of being ground into pastes and eaten as spreads. The mighty peanut (technically the edible seed of a legume crop, but what’s a misnomer between friends?) has occupied kitchen cupboards in millions of homes for decades.
The Spread of Alternative Nuts Butters
In recent years, other nuts have been making their way into pastes and on to shelves – for a few reasons. Levels of peanut allergy have grown in the population, so demand for alternatives has risen. Meanwhile, a general trend towards protein and plant-based foods has fuelled interest in nuts and seeds of all shapes and sizes, particularly in their delicious and convenient spreadable form. Add to this the news from the research community that eating nuts is linked to lower risk of developing potentially fatal diseases and you have a food sensation!
Now, let us be clear: there is nothing wrong with a generous smear of nut butter on toast. We particularly love white almond butter with a tiny pinch of salt for an unctuous, protein-packed breakfast. However, we know there’s a world of uses for your collection of nut butters out there and we’re encouraging you to try them out!
Without further ado, here are our top ten wonderful ways to get the best out of your butters.
1. Proat your Oats
Have you heard of proats? Protein + oats = proats. Bodybuilders love them for the energy boost they can provide first thing. You can achieve proats very simply by adding a dollop of nut butter to your porridge or by stirring it into your overnight oat mix the night before you want them.
Best Butter: Good old peanut butter packs the highest protein content per gram and adds a lovely rich flavour. We like our oats with crunch and a little salt to offset the sweet date syrup we drizzle over the top!
2. Get Saucy
Ahh, sauce. The magic that can transform a dish from ‘meh’ to ‘moooore’! Sauces can be an addition or an integral part of the meal, such as in a stew. Nut butters are brilliant for thickening and providing rich creaminess to sauces. We love this Asian-inspired almond butter sauce with tofu or noodles.
Best Butter: It depends! If we’re talking sweet, nothing beats hazelnut butter melted down with chocolate for pouring over desserts and pancakes! On the other hand, smooth almond and peanut butter work beautifully in savoury sauces that want an earthy, nutty undertone. Cashew butter is best when you want the texture for the sauce without too much flavour, as this butter carries the most neutral flavour profile.
3. Replace Eggs (No, Really!)
Nut butters are brilliant in baking, especially for vegans and those with egg allergies. Simply sub each egg with 60g nut butter to bind your bake. Don’t believe us? Try these peanut butter chocolate cake bars or our 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies. You might never go back!
Best Butter: Peanut butter is great for those who love the flavour in baked goods, but you could always use cashew or white almond for a sweeter, less nutty-tasting egg substitute.
4. Simple Snacks
You may have tried apple slices dipped in peanut butter before. If not, why not? It’s a nutritious, hunger-beating classic that’s worth reviving if you’re in need of elevenses inspiration. Of course, you could switch out the peanut butter for any other nut butter, or switch out the apple for celery (another classic), or for a stoned medjool date or two. Got some rice cakes or crisp breads around? Liven them up with a smear of your favourite nut butter and some sliced banana, with a sprinkling of chia seeds.
Best Butter: We like covering all bases with our mixed nut butter at snack time! Versatile and delicious, it pairs beautifully with almost anything.
5. Dress It Up
Nut butter as a salad dressing?! Hear us out. Spoon a dollop of whole almond butter into a jar with two parts vinegar (balsamic + almond butter is a match made in dressing heaven!), two parts maple syrup, one part olive oil and a smidge of mustard. Shake it up and add water if needed to get to your desired consistency. Amazing!
Best Butter: Our personal favourite is hazelnut butter, thinned out with a little water and a squeeze of lemon juice and muddled with a crushed garlic clove. This is amazing over green beans, especially if you have some whole hazelnuts you can toast, crush and garnish them with.
6. Pumped Popcorn
Melt coconut oil with nut butter and drizzle over home-popped corn for the best movie-night treat ever.
Best Butter: Smooth almond thinned with melted coconut oil is delicious.
7. Healthy Hair (Honest!)
The natural oils present in nut butters make for a super nourishing hair mask. Just run a couple of tablespoons through your tresses and leave for a few hours before washing out with shampoo.
Best Butter: smooth peanut.
8. Train & Treat Your Dog
Dogs go crazy for peanut butter, which is used as a ‘high value’ treat in positively reinforcing desirable behaviour (straight from a teaspoon works fine!). Our peanut butter is xylitol free, so perfectly safe unless your dog has an allergy. Cashew and almond butter are also delicious for dogs in moderation, but go easy! Too much fat is tricky for dogs to digest. Try our simple recipe for peanut butter dog biscuits here.
Best Butter: Peanut, almond or cashew.
9. Feed the Birds
Nut butter is a brilliant energy source for birds. Roll a pinecone in peanut butter then, in bird seeds and hang it in your garden to attract and feed some feathered friends.
Best Butter: Smooth peanut is easiest for the rolling, and provides the biggest protein boost which is great for giving the birds an energy packed meal.
10. Supercharge Smoothies and Shakes
As with oats, you can take the already health-packed smoothie and give it a protein upgrade by popping in a dollop of nut butter before it hits the blender. Deliciously Ella has some seriously delicious nut butter smoothies recipes over on her website, like this blueberry and banana breakfast smoothie.
Best Butter: It depends on the smoothie, but we love almond butter with any banana-based shake.
How do you use yours? Spread some love and tag us with your #bionakitchen ideas on social!