They say that variety is the spice of life, and it is also the healthiest way to eat. By mixing up the fruit, veggie, whole grain, and protein sources you take in throughout the week, you are more likely to get the full range of nutrients your body needs to function at its best, as well as fend off diet boredom.
Whether you’re spreading it on celery, apple slices, bread, or enjoying it in ice cream or a cookie- peanut butter is a healthy, favorite food for many people. Health-food store regulars and those who call themselves “foodies” may be aware that other nut butters, such as almond, sunflower, cashew, and soy nut butter, to name a few, exist as well. All types of nut butter can be part of a healthy diet in moderation, with comparable amounts of fat and protein. Each kind offers a slightly different array of vitamins and nutrients, for example almond butter is higher in vitamin E. Whichever kind you choose, just make sure that the only ingredient is nuts, and possibly salt. Some of my favorites are Smucker’s Natural Peanut butter (also available in organic), Krema natural peanut butter, and MaraNatha Sunflower Seed Butter. Most natural varieties separate easily so you will have to stir them well after opening. Keep them refrigerated so the oil does not separate again.
The protein in nut butters can help keep you fuller longer than other refined snacks. By spreading the butter on a source of carbohydrate such as bread or apples, the mix of carbs and proteins will keep blood sugar steady. Keeping blood sugar levels steady will prevent energy highs and lows, allowing you to go about your day with proper fuel for better concentration. Other benefits include better mood, and decreased likelihood of overeating at your next meal.
Today I made my own homemade soy nut butter. If you have a basic food processor, making nut butters at home is a simple process. I poured 1 cup of dry roasted soy nuts into the food processor and mixed on the high pulse setting for about 30 minutes. Many recipes suggest soaking the soy nuts in water for 7-10 minutes before mixing. Instead, I added water as needed throughout the mixing process to attain the smooth, creamy texture that I was looking for. This technique worked fine. Because I have a pretty basic food processor, I had to stop and let the mixer cool off every 5-10 minutes to prevent it from overheating. I added a little bit of salt and cinnamon for flavor because the finished product was mild in taste. I only used 1 Cup of soy nuts due to the size of my food processor. One cup of nuts plus the added water yielded about 12 oz of nut butter. This same procedure can be used with other types of nuts to make other kinds of nut butter. Try adding vanilla, flax, honey, or dark chocolate for a variety of decadent spreads!