By Olivia Rassow
Updated December 08, 2016

Credit: Getty Images

In honor of August and back-to-school lunches, lets talk about nut butters. Years ago peanut butter may have been your only option, but today’s grocery stores boast quite a variety of alternatives to peanut butter. What’s the difference? The flavor and texture of nut butters vary based on the taste and fat content of the nuts, with higher-fat nuts making for smoother butters.

It turns out that nut butters are pretty similar when it comes to nutrition. A tablespoon has 2-4 grams of protein and some fiber. It also packs plenty of healthy fats and contains about 100 calories.

It’s true that most commercial nut butters have sweeteners and stabilizers that add calories. Look for varieties without added oils, sugars, or syrups.

You can even make your own using raw or roasted nuts. Just put any kind of nut in a food processor and blend until they reach the consistency you’re looking for. You can mix in flavorings, if you’d like.

I love to add a pinch of salt and some cinnamon. A dash of vanilla, coconut oil, or honey also tastes great. Homemade nut butters lack preservatives, so make them in small batches and store in the fridge to keep fresh.

What can you expect from non-peanut spreads?

Almond: Mild and smooth. Will have flecks from almond skin. Great on toast and works well in baking.
Walnut: Soft and slightly bitter. Tastes great on sweet fruit, like apples.
Cashew: Mild, sweet flavor. Could work well with savory meals and tastes great on sandwiches.
Macadamia Nut: Thin and smooth, delicious on desserts.
Pistachio: Crumbly. Mix with Greek yogurt or cream cheese.
Hazelnut: Thick and fruity. Add to chocolate spreads for dessert.

Oils from unprocessed nut butters may separate in the jar. Mix back in before eating and enjoy!