I hated to write “nut butter” in the title of this post because that phrase sounds sooooooo unappetizing to me. Like if somebody said, “Hey, you want a nut butter sandwich?” I’d have to say, gross, no…. But that’s what they are — the stuff you get when you smoosh nuts into a paste. Maybe they should be called nut paste? Smooshy nuts? Pete’s Schwetty balls? No wait, that’s something else.
My kids eat a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and I’ve always wondered, “Is there a way to improve on the nutrition of these things?” There is, definitely. And it starts by changing the nut butter.
Here are the healthiest nut butters for kids (and adults since you’ll probably be eating their left over sandwiches) —
1. Almond butter — By far the healthiest of all nut butters. Almonds have a ton of protein. They have all the good fats. And they are very alkaline. They are one of the world’s healthiest foods. People never really talk about alkaline vs. acidic, but it’s a very important feature of your health. Here’s what Kris Karr, author of Crazy Sexy Kitchen says about an alkaline diet:
“Your body is designed to operate within a narrow pH range. For optimal health and happiness, your blood pH must be slightly alkaline. Your body will do anything to maintain proper balance. When there’s even the slightest chance you could become overly acidic (due to food and lifestyle choices, environment, etc.) your remarkable body will mine minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium from your bones, teeth and organs to neutralize the acids. This is fine every now and then. But pillaging your reserves over the long term can lead to osteoporosis and other health challenges”.
Guess what the Standard American Diet is? All acid. Fast foods, processed foods, starchy foods, sugar — all these things make your blood pH too acidic and then in order to fix the situation, your body steals stuff from your BONES, TEETH and ORGANS! OMG! So eating alkaline foods every day (like salad and whole grains) is kind of like, a major priority. If you want to learn more about alkaline foods, my favorite book is this one.
An easy way to help your kids eat more of an alkaline diet is to switch out peanut butter for almond butter.
2. Cashew butter — I am addicted to cashew butter. I eat it on toast every morning. It’s alkaline, has a ton of healthy fats and essential amino acids. Some people don’t like cashew butter because it’s high in calories. I think this is a little crazy. The reason why we are having an obesity epidemic in America is because of processed and fast foods, not because we’re all eating too many cashews. My kids love cashew butter and honey sandwiches.
3. Walnut butter — Walnuts win here because they have those all important omega 3 fatty acids. Our bodies need omega 3’s but we don’t make them, so we have to get them through our foods. Omega 3’s are essential in brain function so it’s really important to find ways for our kids to eat them because of their growing brains. I have yet to entice my children into eating a walnut butter and jelly sandwich because walnuts kind of have a bitter taste. I tried to balance this by glopping on more and more jelly until they were eating a thousand pound jelly sandwich with a tiny little bit of walnut butter in it and yet they still weren’t crazy about the walnut taste. I’m going to try mixing peanut butter and walnut butter together next time and see if they eat it.
4. Peanut butter — If you’re concerned about alkaline vs. acidic, peanuts are really acidic. So if your kids are eating a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (jelly has sugar which is also acidic), their bodies are having to neutralize a lot of acid. But peanut butter does have protein and potassium, so it’s certainly not the worst snack to eat. The healthiest version of this sandwich would be to substitute jelly for honey, make sure the label on the peanut butter just says, “peanuts” (like the brand above) and use whole grain bread.
If your kids don’t like the taste of any walnut, cashew or almond butter, just try mixing them with peanut butter. They’ll still get the peanut butter taste, but with the added nutrition of the other nut butters.
Also, while testing out different nut butters on my kids, I have discovered that our dog, Evelyn, loves all nut butters. Evelyn doesn’t care which ones are alkaline or acidic and she even has no idea what the word protein means.
She is just a nut butter enthusiast.
(Number of times I said nut butter in this post — way too many.)