Alternative ‘butters’ that are peanut allergy friendly and totally delicious

Two of the most common food-related allergies involve tree nuts and peanuts. Chefs can use peanut butter substitutes to cater to a broader audience.

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March 13, 2018 4 min read

Exploring new foods and culinary trends is an important way for experienced and up-and-coming chefs alike to grow and develop their talents. It also helps them tailor their menus to a broader audience, such as to people who are trying a new diet like the Whole30 or to people with food allergies.

Two of the most common food-related allergies involve tree nuts and peanuts. Though many people who are allergic to one are also affected by the other, the two allergies are distinguished because peanuts are legumes, not nuts.

About 1 percent of the population in the U.S. has a tree nut allergy, according to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition. Another study published in Allergy & Asthma Proceedings found that, among a sample size of 38,480 parents, 3218 reported their child as having a food allergy; close to one-quarter were peanut allergies.

Having a peanut or tree nut allergy can range from a minor inconvenience to a scary situation. Some people have severe reactions even after encounters with small amounts of the ingredient. Some schools have banned peanuts and tree nuts from their cafeterias; restaurants that do the same may appeal to a larger audience. And, using some delicious substitutes can appeal to both peanut-lovers and avoiders.

Peanut butter substitutes are tasty and safe for people with allergies.

Peanut butter substitutes are tasty and safe for people with allergies.

Coconut butter

A paste from shredded coconuts, this tangy alternative goes well aside a sweet jelly for a delicious twist on the classic PB&J. Coconut butter is also very easy to make, requiring only a single ingredient, according to The Kitchn. Simply blend dried, shredded coconut in a blender or food processor for about 18-19 minutes. Add salt if you wish, but it’s not necessary.

Though it takes a while to break down into the final paste, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the process to make sure it’s going smoothly. The coconut should break down into clumps after about three minutes, and after about five, it should look more grainy and pasty. Every once in a while, the mixture will begin to climb up the sides. Push it back down to keep it all consistent and ensure all parts are blended equally.

Pumpkin seed butter

Seed butters are a common substitute for nut butters. Pumpkin seed butters begin with roasting pepitas at 350 degrees for up to 10 minutes, according to The Healthy Maven. After that, you can choose to customize as you please. The staple ingredients are your roasted pumpkin seeds, liquid coconut oil and salt. For a chocolatey spread, add unsweetened cocoa powder and your choice of sugar. For a more autumnal flavor profile to match the seasonality of the pumpkin seeds, consider adding maple syrup instead of sugar and including cinnamon and vanilla extract.

Tahini (sesame butter)

Tahini is a Middle Eastern staple, most widely recognized for its role in making hummus a delicious spread. Don’t box tahini in, though; this sesame paste is widely versatile, and can be a delicious sugar-free substitute to peanut butter.

To make your own, The Kitchn explained you’ll need to start with sesame seeds and an oil – sesame works, as does grapeseed or mild olive oil. You can choose to toast your seeds for a nuttier flavor, or keep them raw if you want something more mild. Once your seeds are ready, pour them into a food processor and grind for a few minutes until you get a sandy paste. Add oil and continue to process, scraping down the sides as necessary. To complement tahini with a sweeter flavor, Bon Appetit suggested pairing tahini with date syrup, a supersweet spread that works well with this savory peanut butter substitute.


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