Before you can fall in love with no-sugar nut butter, you have to find it. Luckily, demand has been on the rise. Most grocery stores now stock at least a few good options. Health-focused supermarkets, on the other hand, are likely to feature a towering wall of nut butters.
Whether you’re evaluating one option or twenty, turn the jar around and find the ingredients list.
It should be short and simple. You want to pick a nut butter that has nothing in it but nuts — and maybe some salt. If there’s added oil, it should be from the same nut (for example added peanut oil in peanut butter).
Take one of our favorite brands of mixed nut butter, for example. Its ingredients list includes: Almonds, cashew nuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, sea salt. It has a lot of nuts. What it doesn’t have are any of the excess oils, preservatives, or unnecessary stabilizers that are added to less healthy nut butters.
Even the best nut butters are high in calories, so stick with 2 tablespoons per serving. Ready to warm up to healthy nut butter? Read on.
Tip #1: Navigate the Oil Slick.
The healthiest nut butters are free of stabilizers — added ingredients that prevent the nuts from separating from their natural oils. As a result, oil rises to the top of the jar and can make a big, goopy mess. Luckily, that’s easy to prevent.
Here’s what to do:
• Store the jar upside down — the oil will be at the bottom when you flip it over.
• Before using, stir slowly with a knife to combine nuts and oil.
• If oil is close to overflowing, spoon some out before stirring.
• To really minimize separation, empty the jar into a bowl, use a stand mixer to combine, then store in the fridge.
Tip #2: Make it spread like frosting. Really.
Got thick, clumpy nut butter? Heat 2 tablespoons in a microwave-safe bowl for 10 seconds and it’ll spread like a dream.
If you’re making baked goods that you’d usually frost with sugary stuff, try this instead: Add a few teaspoons of milk per 2 tablespoons of microwaved nut butter, whisk to combine and spread it. Instead of resorting to sugar, you’re adding protein!
Tip #3: Use it in savory dishes.
Nut butters add rich flavor and texture to veggie stir fries and soups.
For a simple stir-fry sauce, blend together 1⁄3 cup peanut butter, 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoons 100% orange juice, and a dash of red pepper flakes.
For soup, heat up boxed roasted pumpkin or butternut squash soup, then swirl 2 tablespoons of no-sugar nut butter into your bowl. Bonus: Top with pumpkin seeds.
Tip #4: Enjoy every last bit.
Before recycling the jar, use it to make a serving of overnight oats. The oats will sop up the nut butter stuck in crevices that utensils can’t reach.
Combine ½ c cup of steel-cut or rolled oats in the nearly empty nut butter jar with 1 cup of milk (or a milk alternative). Let soak overnight, then stir, adding more nut butter for a max of 2 tablespoons. Flavor with cinnamon and top with bananas or blueberries if you have them.
For more health and shopping info about nut butter, check out this 1-page guide.
Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. In a Nutshell: The Health Benefits and Culinary Uses of Nut Meats. https://foodandnutrition.org/january-february-2013/nutshell-health-benefits-culinary-uses-nut-meats. Published January 2, 2013. Accessed June 12, 2018.