I have always loved a good peanut butter and jam sandwich. For me it’s the perfect hiking sandwich because you don’t have to worry about anything getting spoiled and I enjoy them smooshed out of my backpack! I’m not a fan of jelly, but I am lucky that our garden’s berry patches produce enough raspberries and strawberries so that I can make jam. I want big pieces of fruit to meld with the crunchy peanut butter.
Growing up, peanut butter was just about the only nut butter available in the local grocery store. Now we are lucky to have a plethora of nut and seed butters available to us, including almond butter, cashew butter, pistachio butter, pecan butter, sunflower butter, walnut butter, macadamia nut butter, hazelnut butter, etc. Most nut and seed butters have between 90-110 calories per tablespoon and 7-11 grams of unsaturated fat. They also contain protein and fiber and can help you feel full for longer periods. That’s why using nut butters as part of a snack can be helpful for people of all ages. Nut butters also contain additional nutrients such as B vitamins, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium and Vitamin E. They are loaded with heart-heathy monounsaturated fats too. These fats help increase HDL cholesterol–the good kind–while keeping LDL cholesterol–the bad kind–in check. Each type of nut butter has different amounts of these nutrients.
Here is an at-a-glance table offering a basic nutritional comparison of the various kinds of nut butter.
|Almond butter||98 kcal||3.0g||8.9g||3.4g|
|Brazil nut butter||95 kcal||2.0g||9.5g||2.0g|
|Cashew butter||94 kcal||4.4g||7.9g||2.8g|
|Coconut butter||110 kcal||4.0g||10.0g||1.0g|
|Hazelnut butter||94 kcal||2.6g||9.1g||2.2g|
|Macadamia nut butter||110 kcal||2.6g||11.0g||1.0g|
|Peanut butter (smooth)||96 kcal||3.6g||8.2g||3.6g|
|Peanut butter (crunchy)||95 kcal||3.5g||8.0g||4.0g|
|Pecan butter||110 kcal||2.0g||11.5g||1.5g|
|Pistachio butter||90 kcal||4.3g||6.5g||3.0g|
|Pine nut butter||110 kcal||2.0g||11.0g||2.0g|
|Walnut butter||105 kcal||2.2g||10.5g||2.5g|
After peanut butter, almond butter is probably the most popular and readily available nut butter available in grocery stores. I am sharing an easy recipe that is a riff on peanut butter cookies from my childhood. Instead of using peanut butter I am using almond butter and adding chocolate chips (which you can eliminate.) Many peanut butter cookie recipes use vegetable shortening (in fact I used to work at a local bakery that used Crisco in their recipe and I would cringe every time I had to make them.) This recipe relies on the natural fat in the almond butter and does not require extra shortening. This makes them crunchy rather than soft. You can omit the chocolate if you want and add chopped toasted almonds or toasted coconut if you want for extra texture. In addition, experiment with using other types of nut butters (including peanut butter!) that you have in your pantry. These are wonderful for an afternoon snack or take them along on a springtime hike. Keep them wrapped well, but they might not last.
Almond Butter Cookies
1 cup (260 grams) almond butter with salt
1/2 cup (100 grams) light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg or 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg, preferably at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces (170 grams) chopped milk or semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips
Granulated sugar, for dredging
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (alternatively, you can work in a large bowl with a sturdy hand mixer or with a spatula and a sturdy arm), beat the almond butter, the two sugars and the spice on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until well blended. Beat in the egg and vanilla and continue to mix until the dough comes together. Please note that the dough will be clumpy, not really moist, but it will pull together. Mix in the chocolate. Reach into the bowl and press the dough into a ball with your hands.
Using a medium-size cookie scoop (one that holds about 1 1/2 tablespoons) or a spoon, scoop out dough and place the balls of dough about 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets.
For crisscross cookies, shape the scoops of dough into balls, roll each ball around in the sugar to coat and return the balls to the sheet. Dip the tines of a fork into the sugar and press the fork down into the dough; repeat to form a cross. Bake one sheet at a time.
Bake the cookies for 11 to 12 minutes, and then let them rest on the baking sheet for two minutes – they’re soft and have to gather themselves before you gently transfer them to a rack to cool.
— By Deborah Binder
Deborah Binder lives in Edmonds with her family. She is “dancing with N.E.D.” (no evidence of disease) after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She is a foodie who loves to cook from scratch and share her experiments with her family and friends. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and freelances around town for local chefs. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.