Friday, April 11, 2014

Nut Butter Matchup & PB Sorbet

In recent months, almond butter has stolen the place in my heart reserved for my favorite nut butter. But between the almond butter in my pre-ride breakfast, and almond milk in my post-ride smoothies, and the almonds that I like as a snack, I started wondering if I was missing something by devoting so much attention to almonds. Instinctually, I knew the answer was "yes" as variety is the spice of life and the secret to good nutrition and health. But how do the different nut butter stack up? Doing a little research, here's my Final Four nut butters, ranked on the quality of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and micronutrients in a 2T serving. It's a bit qualitative, but hopefully it gives enough data that you can look further into it yourself!

190 calories
16g fat (8g monounsaturated/ 3g saturated fat, 25mg omega-3, 5406mg omega-6)
8g protein (protein completeness score: 66, deficient in lysine & the branched amino acid threonine)
14% Vitamin E, 21% Niacin, 9% Vitamin B6, 12% Magnesium, 23% Manganese, 3% Selenium

200 calories
18g fat (12g monounsaturated/ 2g saturated fat, 135mg omega-3, 2802mg omega-6)
5g protein (protein completeness score: 66, deficient in lysine)
42% Vitamin E, 12% Riboflavin, 8% Calcium, 6% Iron, 24% Magnesium, 28% Manganese, 2% Selenium

185 calories
15g fat (3g monounsaturated/ 2g saturated fat, 22mg omega-3, 1056mg omega-6)
6g protein (protein completeness score: 81, deficient in lysine)
12% Vitamin B6, 18% Folate, 8% Iron, 30% Magnesium, 24% Phosphorous, 12% Zinc, 30% Copper, 34% Manganese

And the Nut Butter April (seriously, it was in April this year!) Madness winner is...

190 calories 
16g fat (10g monounsaturated/ 3g saturated fat, 55mg omega-3, 2614mg omega-6)
6g protein (protein completeness score: 105)
14% Vitamin K, 8% Iron, 20% Magnesium, 12% Zinc, 36% Copper

Surprised that cashews are the only one of the four to offer a complete source of protein? I sure was. I feel like cashews are the least flavorful nut which is why they nicely add creaminess to things like vegan magic cheese. Despite this high quality protein, I probably won't start buying cashew butter, but I will start making a concerted effort to use cashews in more of my recipes. Meanwhile, sunflower seed butter offers the widest variety of micronutrients, almond butter offers the best quality fat, and peanut butter offers the most protein. So while there may not be a clear-cut winner in this challenge, you are the winner since now you know the nutritional differences between the most popular nut butters!

Peanut Butter (Mango) Sorbet

1.5c frozen cubed mango
3-4T vanilla almond milk

Food process mango & PB2 to a fine powder (best done in a high speed blender, but food processor also works!). Add almond milk 1T at a time, food processing after each addition until your desired consistency is reached. This recipe yields two servings of creamy deliciousness with 125 calories, 5g protein, and all natural sugars. Just like Arctic Zero except made of all natural ingredients instead of fake junk!

*PB2 is interesting stuff. Basically, peanuts are dehydrated, defatted, and ground to produce a fine powder. A 45 calorie serving of this stuff offers most of the nutrients of regular peanut butter, with only 1.5g fat and 5g protein. Another tasty peanut butter alternative!

Spring has finally sprung here in Massachusetts! At least for this week...


  1. what a fun and useful post - I am a diehard PB girl but i should mix it up some :)

    Just a heads up on PB2- I tried it when they first came out w/ it and found that it went rancid pretty fast.. maybe keep it in the freezer to be safe?

  2. Thanks for mentioning that, Becky! I do keep my PB2 in the freezer if I don't have plans to use it up fast. I found it's fine on the shelf for a month, but after that I get nervous because I'm afraid of peanut mold =P

  3. thanks for this - it convinced me to keep putting cashews in my trail mix and granola even though I agree that they are rather bland!

    Where do you get your PB2 - i think I want to have some on hand for tossing into smoothies if I don't get around to soaking and blending cashews into fruit on the weekend (since my normal smoothie prep is put yogurt in a jar, put fruit sauce in a jar, add dried greens and shake.. no blender involved - which I think my neighbors appreciate since I am often making them very early or very late at night :)

    1. I ordered my PB2 on Amazon: The 2-pack of 16 oz bags for $16 was the best I could find. It's 74 servings, or 4.6x as much as 1 normal jar of peanut butter, which would be comparable to a $3.45 jar of peanut butter. Not bad!