The healthiest nut butters for kids

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) —

RiotRanch_almondbutter

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.

RiotRanch_Cashewbutter

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.

RiotRanch_walnutbutter

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.

RiotRanch_peanutbutter

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.

Evelyn_Peanutbutter1

She is just a nut butter enthusiast.

(Number of times I said nut butter in this post — way too many.)

9 Comments

  • Claire says:

    Have you tried “Sunbutter?” It’s sunflower seeds all ground up. So I guess it’s a seed butter and not a nut butter, but still… My peanut/cashew allergic kid LOVES Sunbutter. Is it acidic? I’m hoping not! Although my other kid is allergic to sunflower seeds so we don’t bring Sunbutter in the house much…

    We eat a lot of almond butter so I’m glad to know it’s actually healthier than the peanut butter. Hey, a positive to peanut allergy! I’ve never found a positive before so thank you for bringing that to my attention!!

    I should find some of that Walnut butter. No allergies to Walnuts thank goodness!

    • Holly Hester says:

      Hey, I just checked and sunflower seeds are alkaline! We have never tried them. I’ll get some. Thanks for the tip. And yes, I’m glad that I could help point out a positive to having a peanut allergy. (So sorry your child does have one though.)

  • angela says:

    Great information! Thanks!

  • Becky says:

    Peanut butter isn’t a nut butter, it’s a *legume* butter. :-P

    • Holly Hester says:

      Ha! That’s funny. I’ve never thought of that. It’s the nut in peanut that makes it confusing. Is it a nut or legume? I still don’t know.

      • Becky says:

        It’s a legume. If you are a visual person, it may help to know that peanuts grow underground so they “look” really different than your standard nut (up in a tree). If you’re more of a word person, focus on the “pea” part of the word since peas are also legumes (not nuts). It’s also why some kids are allergic to peanuts but not tree nuts. I am waiting for the big swarm of parents to start demanding legume free lunch rooms in which there is nary a mushy pea to be found.

        • Holly Hester says:

          That’s so interesting. Maybe that’s why peanuts rank low on the healthy thing. Hopefully, most parents are ignorant like me and are not quite sure what a legume is.

          • Becky says:

            I’m pretty sure knowledge of this has significantly more with having been a preschool teacher for some Very Concerned Parents than with actually being a parent. Also, if you store your butters upside down, you don’t have to stir them. :-)

            • Holly Hester says:

              I didn’t know that about storing them upside down. I find that oil on the top of the peanut butter to be really disgusting. And when I’m stirring it I always slop the oil over the side of the jar. Thanks for the tip!

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