Consumers Seek Peanut Butter Alternatives as Recall Grows
As the recall of salmonella-tainted peanut products continues, customers are becoming more and more wary of any product whose ingredients include peanuts, peanut paste, or peanut butter.
Food industry experts predict that the peanut and peanut butter industry could lose as much as a billion dollars in profits because of the peanut recall. The recall has so far affected cookies, crackers, protein and snack bars, ice cream, dog treats, and a host of other packaged products that contain peanuts and peanut paste.
Sales of peanut butter itself are reportedly down 13% in the four weeks since February 21, 2009, the lowest they have been in recent years. Yet for many people, it's difficult to imagine what to do without this every day food staple.
If you're accustomed to peanut butter cookies or that peanut butter and jam sandwich for lunch, don't despair! There are several alternatives to peanuts and peanut butter that, if they don't taste identical, still pack that same nutty flavor and fabulous nutritional punch.
Nuts and Nut Butters
Some of the healthiest and most nutrition-packed peanut options come from other nuts. Nut butters such as almond, cashew, pecan and hazelnut are also some of the tastiest natural peanut alternatives. They are loaded with protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber and heart-healthy fats. They also contain vitamins and minerals like copper, vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus.
Seeds and Seed Butters
Seeds are closely related to nuts and they pack the same natural nutritional punch, although in general they are less flavorful and slightly less sweet than peanut or other nut butters (though that can easily be remedied using honey or jam). Some of the best seed butters are rich in protein, healthy complex carbs, omega fatty acids, fiber, vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, selenium, copper, zinc, folate and iron. Favorite seeds include sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, and hemp seeds (one of the most perfect non-meat protein sources).
Soy Nut Butter
Soy nuts butters are a popular alternative to peanut butter because although they have very little innate flavor, they can be salted and seasoned to closely imitate peanut butter. Soy nuts are high in protein, omega fats, iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, phosphorus and zinc. Soy allergies are fairly common, though, so this option should be used with care.
A popular option for kids and those who prefer their peanut butter sweet, pea butter is a combination of yellow peas with icing sugar and oil to create a product with a consistency and taste very similar to sweetened peanut butter. Popular among those with a sweet tooth, but undeniably one of the less nutritious options, pea butter is nonetheless a very popular choice for those choosing to avoid peanut butter.
Doering, Christopher, "Salmonella recall is no small peanuts," Reuters, March 11, 2009.
York, Emily Bryson, "Peanut-Butter Sales Volume Drops 13% in Four Weeks," Advertising Age, March 10, 2009.