Ah, the glorious world of nut butters. Doesn’t it feel like you are cheating on healthy eating when you load a fresh slice of gluten-free bread with chocolate almond butter, or mash a banana with cacao nibs, cinnamon and cashew butter?
It’s true, I’m a little nut butter obsessed. I’m known to dash a sprinkle of cardamom onto a spoonful of the stuff and eat it as is, right out of the jar. I may or may not keep a single serving packet of Justin’s Nut Butter in my purse—all you need is an apple or a gluten-free graham cracker and you’ve got a balanced snack!
Nothing is quite as satisfying as my favorite nuts blended into perfection. And yet, I know that when I incorporate nut butter into my meal I’m also adding good fats, protein and vitamins into my diet. The more nutrients we get from our daily food intake - as opposed to from supplements - the better.
When it comes to nut butter with its high nutrition to calorie ratio, it’s really a win-win situation. Plus, with my food processor I can make any combination I want—I’m only limited by my ability to dream up a new mélange.
Once you’ve got your favorite nut butter it’s time to get cooking. Breakfast, lunch, dessert, snacks—you can really incorporate this flavorful protein into any meal. Start by trying these delicious nut butter treats.
1. Layer nut butter with yogurt and fresh fruit for a sweet parfait.
2. Pull out the hand mixer and stir in nut butter, powdered sugar, a little butter and a dash of vanilla and you have a healthier yet just-as-sweet take on frosting.
3. Bake your own protein “cookies” with nut butter and your favorite granola—little ones love grabbing these healthy treats on their way to the bus (they’ll think you’ve gone crazy offering them sweets before lunch, but you’ll know they are starting their day off on the right foot).
4. Remember ants on a log? Spread nut butter on celery and top with raisins for this childhood classic.
5. Add it to Asian-inspired dishes like curry and satay for a savory take on nut butter, or whisk into apple cider vinegar and honey for a sweet and tangy dressing.
6. If you’re really feeling fancy, smother fresh fish like trout with nut butter for a gluten-free, protein-packed bread crumb alternative.
Clearly, the options are endless. So go on, grab some nut butter and get cracking. It’s delicious and nutritious. How could you say no?
Amie Valpone is a celebrity chef and nutrition expert who healed herself from a decade of chronic illness. She is the author of the new cookbook Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body and the founder of TheHealthyApple.com. Amie has been featured in numerous magazines and TV. Visit Amie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.