Back in my day (I feel old just saying that!), peanut butter sandwiches were the back-to-school food of choice. Walker still loves peanut butter and will put it on anything. But as delicious as it is, it is also the most problematic of nut butters (okay, technically, it's a legume butter). There are so many severe and potentially life-threatening peanut allergies showing up these days that most schools have banned peanuts and peanut products outright.
But leaving aside the allergy issue, peanut butter has nutritional issues as well. Like many other kid-targeted foods, popular peanut butter brands are often full of added sugar (sometimes as much as a teaspoon of sugar per serving), as well as GMO soybean oils and modified and hydrogenated palm and vegetable oils (which is where we get trans fats from). Peanuts are also particularly susceptible to aflatoxin mold, a naturally occurring toxin that can cause liver damage and has carcinogenic effects. While the FDA monitors the levels of aflatoxin in American-grown peanuts, I'd prefer my nut butters to have as few toxic molds, thanks! While aflatoxin is occasionally found on almonds, because almonds are tree nuts, their levels of this particular mold are much lower!
I've been using almond butter in my recipes for a while now, and I find it makes a great peanut butter substitute, but peanut butter does have a lot of good nutritional points (if you buy the good stuff without all the sugar and other additives), so let's see how my fave nut butter stacks up against the most popular nut butter.
Both peanut butter and almond butter have similar calorie counts, so we're going to have to dig a little deeper to figure out which is most nutritious. Besides, I want you to . . .
In terms of macronutrients, peanut butter has more protein, but almond butter has more fiber, so it's basically a draw until we get to the micronutrients. While peanut butter has slightly more B vitamins and selenium, almond butter is richer in vitamin E, iron, calcium and magnesium. These nutrients are tougher to come by, and people are more likely to be deficient in iron or calcium than more B vitamins, so I think almond butter packs the more useful nutritional punch here.
Added bonus: because almonds aren't susceptible to aflatoxin mold the way peanuts are, it's way easier to grow them organically, making clean almond butter way easier to find!
Still unsure almond butter is better than peanut butter? Want me to draw you a chart? Consider it done!
Even if you're the most careful label-reader in the world, the best way to makes ure that your nut butter has nothing but the good stuff is to make it yourself. My Cinnamon Almond Butter is just that: almonds, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Almonds are so flavourful on their own that you really don't need anything else!
Almond butter is the perfect swap in pretty much any recipe whre you would normally use peanut butter, but one of my favourite ways to use almond butter is to pair it with chocolate! Check out my Chocolate Almond Butter Milkshake, my Strawberry Almond Butter Chocolate Cups, or my classicGluten-Free Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Cookies for some almond-spiration!
What healthier swaps have you made for favourite childhood foods? Share them with me in the comments below!