It’s no secret that the nut-butter obsession is real and that might explain why my pantry is overflowing with nut butter jars. Some people call them a guilty pleasure, I call them a healthy food filled with healthy fat. But there are many things to look out for when buying nut butters and learning how to shop the best ones.
Raw Vs Roasted
Have you ever wondered what the difference between raw nuts and roasted nuts is? When you read the ingredients on the nut butter jars, you either see raw or roasted. Although it seems like they are basically the same, they actually are quite different. Which one is the best to reach for first? Raw. And heres why.
It’s pretty simple. Raw nuts are raw. They do not go through any process which changes their nutritional make up and therefore they contain all of the health benefits we are looking for when eating nuts. Roasted nuts, however, do go through a process of heating (aka roasting), which changes their nutritional makeup. When nuts are roasted at high temperatures, they lose some of their nutritional value. The heat from roasting can cause the healthy oils to oxidize, which changes their chemical makeup and can result in rancidity. When nuts go rancid, they contain many free radicals which we can consider “unhealthy” for simpler terms. When these fats and oils go rancid, they can have the opposite effect on our bodies rather then receiving the benefits we are seeking when we think of nuts as a heart healthy fat.
It’s pretty simple to say that nut butters should basically have no other ingredients in them than just the nut itself. That’s why it’s also super easy (but sometimes time consuming) to make your own nut butter at home! All you need is a food processor, raw nuts, and some time, and you’ve got yourself some homemade fresh and delicious nut butter.
Since many of us realistically prefer to just buy our nut butters from the store, these are the things to be thinking about and looking out for. Little to no added ingredients. There should be no added oils such as sunflower oil or palm oil. And of course, no added sugars. Since nut butters are a healthy fat which usually means higher in calories, the purpose is that the body uses the fat for fuel since it takes longer to break down, which is the opposite of sugar. Since sugar is broken down and stored immediately, eating something high and fat in sugar is something one of my favorite experts refers to as Sweet Fat. That’s something we want to avoid, especially since nut butter is absolutely delicious by itself without being too sweet. It’s actually one of my favorite healthy alternatives to sweets!
So It’s that easy. Almond butter ingredients? Raw almonds.
My Top 5 Favorite Brands and Why
Trader Joes is number one on my list for many reasons. One, it’s fairly inexpensive compared to all other nut butters on the market. Raw nut butter is a bit more expensive than roasted nut butters and for that reason it sometimes makes it a little tough to rationalize spending almost $20 on one jar. Trader Joe’s makes an amazing raw creamy almond butter AND raw chunky almond butter, both pricing out at less than $10. So not only is the almond butter clean, healthy, and delicious… its perfect for all uses. It has the best consistency for drizzling, its easy to spoon right out of the jar without needing to aggressively mix the oil away from the top, and it’s good all the way to the bottom and doesn’t get super dry. A little hack for mixing in the oil well — before you open the jar, shake it like a polaroid picture. And then shake it a little more. When you open the jar you won’t even need a knife or spoon to mix the oil into the butter. Oh yeah, and if f you couldn’t tell, I am in a serious long term relationship with Trader Joe’s almond butter.
I love to use Trader Joe’s almond butter for drizzling on pancakes or smoothie bowls, but also I spoon the crunchy one like it’s my job. It’s also really good for dipping things in since the texture is thin and creamy, if you’re trying to make some almond butter dipped treats. YUM.
Another all star in my book is Artisana Organics. Artisana Organics makes amazing nut butters that are free from any added ingredients and are made in small batches in California. The best part is, their nut butters are made using a temperature controlled process so you know you’re receiving all of those healthy benefits from organic, nutrient dense nuts. Also, all of their nut butters come in glass jars, so they are reusable, recyclable, and are minimizing our collective impact on the earth. Additionally, they make travel packs for all their butters so you never have to be without them! Traveling and need a healthy breakfast with your coffee? Need some toppings for your desk lunch? Need a healthy snack while you’re working overtime? Whatever on the go means for you, these packs are a life savor.
I like to use Artisana Organics nut butters in any raw recipes I’m making (like raw cookie dough bites or raw energy balls) because there really is no point in buying the raw stuff, if you’re going to bake it. I also love to just spoon it from the jar or add it as on a topping on well… almost everything.
A direct quote from their site, “raw and organic food is just as natural as a flower growing in the grass.” Right away you know this is a company I support long term. They are doing awesome things with an important mission and that is reflected in their quality products.
Although Georgia Grinders has some added ingredients in their nut butters, and their nut butters are roasted, I still absolutely love them. Here’s the takeaway from everything I write and share about. I am not an extremist. I think if everything we do in life we do about 80% of the time, that other 20% we have to live our dang lives and enjoy ourselves without stress because really, what’s the point in that. So yes, I stated above that raw nut butters are “better” than roasted but with that being said, that doesn’t mean you can never have roasted. In fact, I think it’s nice to switch it up and not limit yourself to anything unless you must. So back to the deliciousness also called Georgia Grinders. Not only do they make drool worthy, classic nut butters, some of their nut butters come in some ridiculously good flavors and are still made with 100% clean ingredients. My favorite is the maple caramel almond butter, but their pecan butter is next level good too. Also, their nut butters come in glass jars so they too are not just doing good for our bodies but for the environment as well. Use your leftover jar for your on the go smoothies, chia puddings, or yogurt parfaits… or just recycle that ish because you can.
I love to use Georgia Grinder’s as a snack when I want something sweet, but they’re also amazing for baking. There’s not much else I can say about them except that they’re delicious, amazing, so yummy, addicting, and unreal. Does that describe them well?
Sunbutter is technically not a nut butter but it falls under the same category. Sunbutter is a seed butter that is made from ground sunflower seeds. Although a seed is not a nut, this is a great alternative to nut butters if you are or someone you know is allergic to nuts. The most important thing when buying Sunbutter is to make sure it’s organic. Although sunbutter makes great products, there are some blurred lines with the sunflower industry in America, so I always make sure with any sunflower product that it’s certified organic.
Even though Sunbutter is a delicious alternative to nut butter, it’s also really good for people who can eat nut butter but just want to change it up from time to time. Sunflower butter is a tad bit saltier than nut butter and it adds an amazing flavor to baking recipes as well as sweeter foods like smoothies or yogurt bowls. I also love using Sunbutter to make sauces for asian style cuisines. My one wish is that they would start making glass jars, but for now, we’ll take what we can get.
Even though I LOVE almonds and almond butter, I think we all can agree that almond butter does the job, but it doesn’t exactly compare to peanut butter. I don’t consume peanuts or peanut butter so for me, sunflower butter is the best alternative when I am craving peanut butter or need it in a recipe. The consistency is most similar to peanut butter and the taste almost is too because of that saltier quality. It’s just overall really good and sometimes when you eat almond everything (aka almond butter, almond flour, almond milk, etc.) ya just want to give your taste buds something new and interesting. For that, we have Sunbutter.
365 by Whole Foods
Yes, this is another roasted almond butter that I’m including in this post because there are no extreme rules here. Of course, if you are able to buy raw almond butter and it is accessible to you, go for it. That’s definitely not the case for everyone so that’s why 365 by Whole Foods almond butter made this list. This is another product that I make sure I always buy organic, and it’s not even that much more expensive than the regular. That’s what I love about the Whole Foods brand nut butters, they’re a little less expensive than the other brands they share the shelf with and they taste really good and have a really good consistency.
The only ingredients in this organic almond butter is dry roasted almonds, with no added oils or sugars. This is a perfect example of why it’s ok to by the roasted almond butter if you need to. Everything in life is a trade off, especially when food shopping for healthy ingredients. Yes, the nuts are roasted to make the butter, but the only ingredient is almonds as opposed to any refined oils, added sugars (cane sugar or agave) and/or added preservatives.
I love to use these to recipe test and to bake with since their pretty low on the price tag scale. Perfect for making sauces or any recipe that requires a bit more volume, instead of using a large amount of one of your super expensive jars.