If you’ve been a kid, which we all have been, except for the Miyao Bros who were created in a lab specifically for jiu-jitsu, then we have fond memories of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. You remember those delicious and easy sandwiches our parents whipped together in an instant and threw in a plastic baggie as they rushed to get us out the door. Well, it turns out that the sandwiches were not selected strictly because they tasted good and were easy, but for the nutrient packed star ingredient, peanut butter. We are no longer little kids, though, so should we still be eating peanut butter or does our sandwich spread need to grow up, too? Let us find out by looking at our top performers in the nut butter bracket and see which to use and when. Let the battle begin!Peanut Allergy: Nut allergies, so hot right now. You will find a staggering amount of children these days have a peanut allergy. In some cases the peanut protein in the air will trigger the negative effects. Err on the safe side before going into the gym with your lunch; eat it in the car. Someone with the allergy may train at your gym. Know our nuts When we think of nut butters, our brains automatically think of peanut butter, which in fact, is wrong. Hell, peanuts aren’t even nuts. This is not an article of semantics though, so back to the point. Nut butters are nuts, seeds or legumes that have high natural fat contents that have been ground into a paste. On a basic level that is what we will get. Note the differences in flavor, use and nutritional content will come from which butter we use. They all have their own unique applications and flavors. Notably high in calories, most all nut butters are worth their weight in gold for they are packed with protein, healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids and essential vitamins and minerals. But this is where the water gets murky at a glance. Just because it’s nut butter, that does not mean it will provide us with all of those nutrients. For instance, cashew butter has significantly less fat and zero omega-3, but offers calcium, copper and magnesium, which are essential in our diets. So, before any major showdown we need to know who our competitors are, let us meet the contenders for you to decide who the winner is! Fun Fact:Peanuts are not actually nuts, they are technically legumes which is the same family as soybeans, peas, lentils and beans. Someone pulled a Greenland/Iceland situation on us when naming Peanuts. Almond Butter The hip new rising star all the health nuts are raving about. Strengths: Where to begin, peanut butter for grown ups. Almond butter is by far the hottest nut butter in the health food world and that is for a reason. Almond butter is packed with fiber, protein and less calories than peanut butter making it a powerhouse for our hearts and bones and for keeping our body fat low. Weaknesses: Greatness comes with great cost literally because almond butter is expensive. Creamy lovers beware, almond butter tends to be on the grainy side because it is hard to remove the skin off the almonds before grinding and they never fully break down in the process. Also, most almond butters are not sweetened naturally so you will have to adjust to a more natural flavor than you would normally with peanut butter. Best used for: Weight loss/weight management. Cooking Tip: Think of any flavors that pair with almonds and it will work well with almond butter. Excellent in smoothies, root vegetables, or even the Gracie sandwich of almond butter, avocado, spinach, walnuts and kale chips on toast. Food Hack: Stir-free natural nut butters. When dealing with natural nut butters we will have a workout pre-snack by having to stir in the natural oils with the ground nut butter on the bottom. Instead, try storing the jar upside down when you are not using it for easy, natural mixing.
Peanut Butter The veteran, that is tried and true…besides in name…again, is not a nut.Strengths: What is there not to love about peanut butter? Unless of course you have an allergy, then I would avoid it. If you can have peanuts then lucky you! Peanut butter is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and protein. Also, peanuts bring antioxidants to the table/lunch box. Weaknesses: High in the calorie count, but I feel that this is countered with the fact that nutritionally peanut butter offers enough to be a stand alone midday snack. But we have to watch out with not over doing it with peanut butter and also avoiding products with a ton of additives, most notably sugar. With the large demand for peanuts today there are serious issues with quality of how some peanuts are grown, harvested and handled. So, you have to shop for quality here and should go organic. Best used for: As a meal or protein additive. By far the best tasting of the nut butters. It can be used in smoothies, on fresh fruits, stirred into quinoa with a little lime juice or simply spread between two pieces of bread. Cooking Tip: Peanut butter can be used as a butter replacement in about every application. To go au naturel or not? Always opt for natural. More often than not, non-natural nut butters we will find are marketed towards fat Americans, so they are designed to be sweet. How do we make a savory food sweet? Pack it with sugar. If the nut butter has more than three ingredients, put it back. Cashew Butter A light weight that has been flying under the radar, but should never be counted out. Strengths: Essentially vitamin butter. Cashew butter has far less calories than peanut butter yet still brings the noise on a nutritional level. Loaded with calcium, copper, magnesium, protein and healthy fats, this is a great substitution. Cashew butter is excellent for our bones, blood and heart. Weaknesses: With fewer calories, fat and no omega-3 fatty acids, cashew butter is not a full replacement to the other butters, but more so a good supplement on every other day. Also, the consistency of the majority of brands will be soupy at best. There are a few brands on the market though that will be of acceptable creaminess. Best used for: Use in a “best of both worlds” sense. If you want a milder flavor with less calories building up to weight ins, go for cashew butter. Cooking Tip: Use cashew butter blended with chickpeas to make hummus. Salted or unsalted? As fun as Supermarket Sweep looked, do not play it when you’re selecting nut butter. Pay attention to salted vs. unsalted. If it is a battle of taste, salted wins out; if it is a battle of age or weight management, then we can cut back on our sodium by opting for unsalted. Powdered Peanut Butter…what the hell is this stuff? Most major powdered peanut butters are incomplete foods nutritionally. They are made by squeezing as much of the oil out of the peanuts as possible, dehydrating what is left and grinding it up. We are losing almost all of the nutritional value. If we cannot live without it we make our own. Ingredients: 1 cup Nut Butter 2/3 cup Tapioca Maltodextrin (not as scary as it sounds. It is a food starch that absorbs the oils until we add liquid, such as saliva.) Method: Add both to a food processor and turn it on to create our own powder. This will stretch one jar of nut butter into many jars of powdered nut butter. Use a 60/40 ratio for scaling the recipe or powderizing any fat.” Go Nuts! Nut butters can be looked at the same as moves in jiu-jitsu in the sense that anyone can use it, but not everyone knows when to. Weigh the options, the strengths and weaknesses of each different butter and find out what works best for what you are trying to achieve. If you are looking to lean down, you probably should swap out the peanut butter in your smoothie for cashew butter. If you are having a hard time finding time to eat throughout the day, stop having almond butter on your apples at lunch and go with a more dense peanut butter. You do not go for guillotines while on your opponent’s back, why would you go for peanut butter when you are looking to lean down? Remember to check out https://GrapplerGourmet.com for recipes using nut butters, full nutritional break-downs and to see how some of the pros use them. You have three culinary submissions to work into your arsenal now, so it’s time to go nuts and eat well, train hard. The Joys of Nut Butter