Archive for November, 2015

19 New Recipes To Make With A Jar Of Almond Butter

We recently just came across an amazing recipe for chicken soup. What set this recipe apart was the use of one of our favorite foods, almond butter. With just the simple addition of a spoonful of almond butter, an everyday kind of recipe got a whole lot more interesting (and nutritious). That got us thinking: what else can we make with almond butter?

It turns out there are a whole lot of recipes that benefit from a little almond butter. From brownies to smoothies to soba noodles, almond butter adds a burst of flavor and a dose of protein to some of our favorite dishes — the healthy and not so healthy alike.

What we like most about almond butter recipes — aside from all the almonds — is that it makes us feel a tiny bit better about the food choices we’re making, even when it’s cake.


Nut butter battle: Almond vs. peanut

nut buttersIn recent years, almond butter was somehow anointed the chosen nut butter among health-conscious eaters, who smear it on their sprouted breads and gaze upon peanut butter as its low-brow relative.

But the creamy almond treat is not cheap (it’s often about double the price of peanut), and when pressed, most people really can’t tell you why they’re willing to splurge.

So, we asked top nutritionists and health coaches to really break down the health differences between the two nut butters we’re obsessed with most. (That is, unless you’ve already moved on to the new superfood-infused nut butters).

Which is better for you—almond or peanut? Welcome to the nut butter battle… —Lisa Elaine Held


When it comes to the big guys—carbs, protein, and fat—almond and peanut butter are like fraternal twins. “You can see a gram difference here or there, but it doesn’t really make a difference,” says Pure Nutrition founder Christian Henderson, MS, RD. A single two-tablespoon serving of either is high in calories (200) but comes with lots of protein (about 7g) and healthy fats.

Some nutritionists and health coaches point to almond’s slightly higher concentration of good fats, but the difference is nominal. “Almonds have a little bit less saturated fat, but I feel a little bit silly saying that, since they’re so close,” says SPE Certified’ssenior culinary nutritionist Natalia Hancock, RD.


Within the nitty gritty nutrients is where a difference starts to emerge between the butters.

“Almond is better for vitamin E and magnesium, which are two very important micronutrients,” Henderson explains. “Vitamin E is an antioxidant and magnesium is important for bone health and your central nervous system.” This is especially powerful since vitamin E is not found in a wide variety of foods.

Almond butter also has more calcium and iron than peanut.

homemade peanut butter sallysbakingaddiction.comNatural and organic

No matter which nut butter you’re choosing, looking out for added sugar and preservatives is a must; ingredient lists should include little more than plain old nuts. You can satisfy this requirement with either butter, but “when you go shopping for almond butter, it’s almost allnatural brands, you don’t see the Jiffy,” says health coach and Sakara Life founder Danielle DuBoise. “It’s just easier to choose a natural, no-added-sugar, no-preservatives almond butter.”

And when it comes to organic, you have to be more careful with peanuts, says Henderson. “Peanuts are just one of those crops like soybeans and corn that are so overgrown and overprocessed in America. They’re hard to grow, so many pesticides are often used on peanuts,” she says. “If the peanut butter is not organic, you don’t want to be anywhere near it.”

nut butters photo via flickrOther factors

Aside for nutrition facts, there are a few other factors experts consider. Peanuts crops are susceptible to fungi called aflatoxins, which are associated with an array of diseases. The FDA does regulate the presence of aflatoxins, but some say you can’t be too careful. “I worry about that, so I just err on the side of caution,” DuBoise reasons.

Henderson also says that she’s noticed from observations in her practice that almond butter has worked better for her clients struggling with weight loss. “Peanuts just tend to be more addictive for people; almonds tend to be more filling.” Peanuts also may cause more bloating, since they’re technically legumes, not nuts.

thai bowl with peanutsTaste and uses

Of course, since both butters can be part of a healthy diet, a lot of decisions come down to which just works better, for your taste buds or whatever you’re whipping up in the kitchen. “They each have their own place,” says Hancock, who works with top chefs to create flavorful, healthy meals around the country. “I think peanut butter tastes better with bananas and almond tastes better with apples.”

And while almond butter works really well in smoothies, peanut butter does tend to have more culinary uses, she says. “I’ll use peanut butter in a stir fry, Thai style, and I do a really great African spicy sweet potato soup with peanut butter in it that’s really delicious.”




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peanut butter banana sandwich

These days, shopping for a nut butter is eerily similar to buying a wrinkle cream; there are so many options, you’re never really sure if you’re getting the right one—or if it’s actually doing everything the jar claims.

With varieties ranging from sunflower to almond, navigating the spreads aisle gets overwhelming quickly. That’s where we come in. We had the Eat This, Not That! research team hunt out the best of the best of almond, peanut, cashew and sunflower seed butters so you can just grab and go when you’re grocery shopping. We also asked Stephanie Middleberg, MS, RD, CDN of Middleberg Nutrition for some expert tips on the nutrients in these best butters and how to buy them.

But while Middleberg is a self-proclaimed mega-fan of nearly all types of seed and nut butter, she also admits that some are more healthful heavy hitters than others. She agrees with our fundamental rule: go minimalist. “The best nut butters are those that are made with the simplest ingredient: the nut,” she explains. For an Eat This, Not That!-approved spread, look for organic varieties that are made with only a little added salt, seek out jars with minimal added sugars and shun hydrogenated oils. Here are our favorites that are also RD-approved:


“Ounce for ounce, almonds are one of the most nutritious nuts,” Middleberg says. They’re a great source of riboflavin, magnesium and manganese (which, she explains, is great for the prevention of osteoporosis as well as a healthy metabolism), and also provide an impressive amount of vitamin E per serving. By choosing almond butter as your spread, you’ll also get flavonoids, compounds that are extremely useful in fighting heart disease and cancer.


A great alternative for those with tree nut allergies, sunbutter is a powerful seed-based butter. “Sunflower seeds can provide even more fiber, magnesium and vitamin E than traditional nut butters,” Middleberg says. Sun butters are also a “wonderful source of protein, vitamin E, B vitamins, folic acid and selenium,” she explains. Studies have shown that sunflower seed butter is also anti-inflammatory and preventative against cancer and heart disease.


While the classic nut butter shares some health benefits with other nut butters, there tend to be fewer healthy versions available on the market. “Peanut butters are most often processed with hydrogenated oils and sugar, so make sure you check the label carefully,” cautions Middleburg. Organic is always your best option!


With a rich, smooth texture, cashew butter is slightly lower in calcium than other varieties, but can still pack a nutritional punch. “It’s a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and copper, and shouldn’t be overlooked,” Middleberg explains. Magnesium boasts a myriad of health benefits, Middleberg continues, “such as helping your body relieve various conditions like constipation, insomnia, headaches and muscle cramps, as well as regulating the immune system and supporting brain function.” Though cashew butters tend to be harder to find—you might have to log on to find the healthiest varieties—their laundry list of health benefits make them well worth the hunt. Cashews also contain a good amount of biotin, which will help keep your locks shiny and lustrous. Try using decadent cashew butter in weight loss smoothiesand desserts to reap all the nutritional benefits and give yourself a healthful treat.



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The Advantages of Almond Butter Compared to Peanut Butter

Nut butter made from almonds contains more vitamin E and iron than peanut butter.

Nut butter made from almonds contains more vitamin E and iron than peanut butter.

Almond butter and peanut butter occupy similar niches in a healthy diet. Peanut butter can generally substitute for almond butter in recipes, and vice versa, and both nut butters share nutritional similarities. For example, they both provide a source of dietary fiber, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture considers a tablespoon of either nut butter as 1 ounce equivalent of protein — the same as 1 ounce of meat. However, almond and peanut butter also have some nutritional differences, and almond butter offers some health advantages of peanut butter due to its vitamin and mineral content.

Vitamin E

Almond butter has a nutritional advantage over peanut butter due to its vitamin E content. You use vitamin E to protect your cells from oxidative damage. As an antioxidant, vitamin E can neutralize free radicals, preventing these harmful chemicals from oxidizing your DNA and proteins, which damages your cells. Almond butter contains approximately 4 milligrams of vitamin E per tablespoon — about 27 percent of your daily vitamin E requirements, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Peanut butter contains just 1 milligram of vitamin E per 1-tablespoon serving.


Switching from peanut butter to almond butter can also help you boost your magnesium intake. A tablespoon of almond butter contains 45 milligrams of magnesium — 11 percent of the magnesium requirements for men and 14 percent for women, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. An equivalent serving of peanut butter contains just 26 milligrams. Magnesium contributes to the function of your nervous system, facilitates muscle contraction, makes up a component of healthy bone tissue and helps support your metabolism.


Opting for almond butter over peanut butter also proves advantageous due to almond butter’s higher iron content. Iron promotes healthy oxygen transport — it helps you make hemoglobin and myoglobin, two proteins that oxygenate your tissues. Like vitamin E, iron protects your cells from oxidative damage by helping to activate antioxidant enzymes in your cells. A tablespoon of almond butter contains 0.6 milligrams of iron, compared to 0.3 milligrams in a tablespoon of peanut butter. Each tablespoon of almond butter provides 8 percent of the daily iron requirements for men, according to the Linus Pauling Institute, and 3 percent for women.

Making Healthy Choices

Almond butter contains more of a few key vitamins and minerals, but both peanut and almond butters have a place in a healthy diet. Peanut butter offers some nutritional advantages. For example, it provides more selenium — a mineral important to enzyme function — than almond butter. Whether you opt for almond or peanut butters, try to select minimally processed nut butters. Some commercial varieties of peanut and almond butter contain added sugar and salt to add flavor, as well as additives that prevent oil separation. Choose varieties of peanut or almond butter made from nuts alone, with no added preservatives or additives.



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Holiday checklist

Going away or vacationing at home, remember to pack these items for the holidays. Mopani Pharmacy also recommends that you check your first aid kit at lease once a year to ensure that you do not have any expired products and that you always have the correct amount on hand. Visit us today and speak to our friendly knowledgeable staff for advice, refills and kits specifically suited to your needs.



Cannellini bean dip


Preparation method

  1. Heat the oil in a pan; add the garlic and rosemary and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Pour into a food processor and add the beans, salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste, sesame oil, Tabasco sauce and vinegar. Blend together to form a smooth paste, adding extra olive oil, if necessary.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and serve the toasted breads alongside.



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Bacon and white bean soup


This hearty soup can be whipped together in minutes and is a great way to use white beans from your store cupboard.

For this recipe you will need a blender or a food processor.

With a GI of 48 this meal is high protein, low GI and provides 189 kcal per portion.


Preparation method

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the bacon, garlic and onion and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until the bacon begins to brown and the onion softens.
  2. Add the thyme and fry for a further minute. Add the beans and stock to the pan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and blend with the parsley and pepper until smooth.
  4. Return the soup to the pan and heat through, then ladle into 4 bowls and serve immediately.



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