What is better than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Well, how about a cashew butter or almond butter and jelly sandwich? Have you heard of hazelnut butter? Nut butters are a great source of protein and flavor. Spread on whole grain bread and pour a glass of your favorite plant-based milk and enjoy!
In addition to being a great source of protein, nut butters also provide vitamin E, dietary fiber and iron. Some even have small amounts of calcium. Nut butters are free of cholesterol and but do contain moderate amounts of fat depending upon how much you eat. Eat them in moderation as part of a healthy, low-fat diet.
Maybe nut butters are not an option for you. Nut allergies are becoming more and more common, especially among children. Nut allergies encompass peanuts and tree-nuts.
Tree nuts cover a vast variety of nuts. Tree nuts include macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, chestnuts, beechnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts and the lesser known gingko nuts and hickory nuts.
An allergic reaction to a food often starts within minutes but may not manifest itself for two to four hours. The reaction is usually gone within a day.
The most serious allergic response to consuming peanuts and tree nuts is anaphylactic shock. This can be life threatening. An epi-pen (epinephrine) should be available at all times for use in this scenario. A trip to the emergency room is necessary immediately after the epi-pen is used.
There can be cross reactivity between peanuts and tree nuts and also between one kind of tree nut and another kind of tree nut. This means if you are allergic to one you may also be allergic to another. For example, if you are allergic to peanuts you could also be allergic to walnuts, or if you are allergic to cashews you could also be allergic to almonds.
This is one of the reasons it’s important to read labels for allergen information. Labeling laws require the presence of peanuts and tree nuts to be listed on the label. Cross contamination is a concern too. It is not mandated that foods that may have come into contact with the product be listed. Most companies do so voluntarily. It’s always a good idea to call a company to inquire about their labeling practices.
Protein Versus Oil
New studies are showing that some of those afflicted with a peanut allergy may actually be able to consume pure, refined peanut oil if it is properly processed. The allergy is to the protein, not the fat. The production of oil extracts the oil from the protein. There is much controversy over this, especially regarding children. Great care must be taken when exploring this information. This does not apply to tree nut oils.
Sunflower Seed Butter
Even if you are allergic to nuts there are still options for a tasty, buttery sandwich spread. SunButter or Sunflower butter goes great with jelly too! Sunflower seed butters, like nut butters, are also a great source of protein and flavor. They supply many nutrients to the body. They are high in copper, vitamin E and magnesium. Sunflower seed butters have significant amounts of niacin, zinc, and iron, along with small amounts of calcium.
TrueFoods Market is a great resource for all kinds of organic nut butters and sunflower seed butter too. Check out their great selection on-line.