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By Ashley Petrillo

The better butters

What are nut butters? And whatever happened to plain old peanut butter? There is a health kick that is spreading like wildfire where everyone is trying to find a better food alternative than the last. Tastes have turn towards healthier options like kale over spinach, quinoa over rice and now an array of nut butters over peanut butter. It is not to say their counterparts are unhealthy to the point of evading but why not try a better option?

Peanut butter
Peanut butter has been a staple of American lunch boxes for years. Throw a little banana and honey on that sandwich for an added benefit or maybe some marshmallow fluff for a sweet treat. So why change?

Well, peanuts actually do not provide as much benefit as some may think. Their benefits of protein and natural fats may be outweighed by added sugars, fats and salts. Peanut butter could even have trans fats, or trans-unsaturated fatty acids, a very unnatural fat added in the manufacturing process. Trans fats are linked to weight gain, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Even natural brands of peanut butter could be undesirable for consumption compared to other nuts. Peanuts provide the least amount of nutrients and because they grow close to the ground, they are susceptible to chemicals, such as pesticides in run-off water. This is why other nut butters have been sought out.

Consider the alternatives
Almond butter, cashew butter and walnut butter are some of the most popular alternatives to peanut butter, but there are also seed butters to consider for people with tree nut allergies. Which one to use is a choice based on personal preference and how the butter will be used. All three have a consistency similar to peanut butter but different grittiness.

Almond butter is the grittiest of the three mentioned and comes in a variety of flavors like vanilla and maple syrup, which is perfect to throw on a waffle. This one may be the best consistency to replace peanut butter when you want a spoonful or a sandwich. Both cashew and walnut butter are smooth and creamy, which is great for cooking and baking. These butters are healthier than peanut butter because they are not as processed. They are also elevated when growing, meaning they have a much lower chance of coming in contact with chemicals sometimes associated with peanut growing.

These butters have all the nutrient benefits of peanuts and then some. Almonds and walnuts are actually proved to help prevent heart disease and weight gain. There are many other nutrients and vitamins in all three nuts that peanuts lack. The best part is that these butters can be found on many grocery store shelves, right next to the peanut butter. They are a bit pricier but the benefits are worth it.

AB&J Smoothie

8 oz. vanilla almond milk (sweetened or unsweetened for a lighter version)

2 tablespoons of Justin's Vanilla Almond Butter

1 banana, sliced

1/2 cup of frozen blueberries

Add ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.

Top off with crushed almonds and enjoy!

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