Spread­ing the news about nut but­ters

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - To learn more, visit Con­sumerRe­ports.org.

Your choices in nut but­ters are a lot more in­ter­est­ing these days; no longer are “creamy” and “crunchy” peanut but­ter your only op­tions. In the past six months, 28 per­cent of con­sumers said they had pur­chased spreads made from al­monds, cashews or other nuts or seeds, ac­cord­ing to Min­tel, a mar­ket re­search firm.

One rea­son for the in­ter­est is that peo­ple tend to as­sume that the other but­ters are a bet­ter source of fill­ing pro­tein than pedes­trian peanut va­ri­eties, ac­cord­ing to Con­sumer Re­ports. But they’re not. Two ta­ble­spoons of peanut but­ter have 7 grams of pro­tein; the same size serv­ing of cashew or al­mond but­ter is 4 grams and 7 grams, re­spec­tively.

Are there other nu­tri­tional rea­sons to step out of your culi­nary com­fort zone when it comes to nut but­ters? Ab­so­lutely. All nuts (and peanuts, which are legumes) have sim­i­lar amounts of calo­ries and fat, but each one has a dif­fer­ent health ben­e­fit. Cashews, for in­stance, have more cop­per -- which sup­ports the im­mune sys­tem -- than other nuts. One-fourth cup of whole cashews pro­vides about 38 per­cent of the min­eral you should get per day.

Al­monds are rich in vi­ta­min E, a po­tent an­tiox­i­dant that helps pro­tect the body from the type of cell dam­age that may lead to can­cer and heart dis­ease. They’re also a de­cent source of bon­estrength­en­ing cal­cium. Just 2 ta­ble­spoons of al­mond but­ter pro­vide 8 per­cent of your daily need.

A high calo­rie count – about 160 to 200 calo­ries per ounce – is the one draw­back of nuts. And in but­ter form, it’s all too easy to spread or spoon on more than you should. But nuts help you feel full, and if you stick with the rec­om­mended 1 ½ ounces of nuts or 2 to 3 ta­ble­spoons of nut but­ter per day, you’ll get the ben­e­fits with­out go­ing over­board on calo­ries.

Beyond Sand­wiches

There’s a sim­ple, sub­lime plea­sure in spread­ing nut but­ter on a piece of bread -try fig jam on toasted se­v­en­grain -- but Con­sumer Re­ports sug­gests these other culi­nary uses:

• Spoon 1 to 2 ta­ble­spoons into a smoothie to add pro­tein and help thicken it.

• Whisk al­mond but­ter with warm wa­ter and fiery Sriracha sauce for a zesty dip for veg­gies.

• Blend un­salted, un­roasted cashew but­ter with lemon juice, fresh gar­lic, wa­ter, salt and pep­per to make a rich and com­pletely plant­based Al­fredo sauce.

• Whisk it into soups and stews as a thick­ener. Con­sumer Re­ports sug­gests try­ing tra­di­tional African peanut stew recipes or adding al­mond but­ter to your fa­vorite chicken or pump­kin soup.

• Swirl it into cooked oat­meal to add creami­ness and make your ce­real an even more stick-to-your-ribs, pro­tein-pow­ered break­fast.

• Make a Chi­nese take­out fa­vorite, sesame noo­dles, at home us­ing peanut but­ter. Com­bine it with soy sauce, sesame oil, a sprin­kle of sugar, a lit­tle hot wa­ter and a pinch of red-pep­per flakes. Toss with whole-grain spaghetti, chopped veg­eta­bles, and chopped chicken or tofu, and then gar­nish with sesame seeds and chopped scal­lion.

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