Four Easy Nut Butter Snacks
With all three of my children, I was so paranoid about the danger of peanut allergies, I gave each of them their first taste of peanut butter while parked in front of their pediatrician’s office. There they’d be, strapped into their car seat, on the receiving end of a teaspoonful of peanut butter. Then we would wait, taking up precious San Francisco parking, as I scrutinized their little faces for any signs of anaphylaxis. I figured the safety of our doctor’s office was just a few steps away in the event of a swelling tongue or itchy throat.
Looking back, it seems a little, well, nutty. Fortunately, none of my children developed food allergies of any kind, which is a good thing because peanut and other nut butters happen to be among my favorite foods. They’re also one of the handiest pantry items for a mom.
I feel for families with kids who have peanut or tree nut allergies. The good news is, there are now a huge variety of options available from pumpkin seed to soy nut to brazil nut butter, making it possible for most folks to work around the challenges of allergies.
Friends sometimes ask me, “What’s the healthiest nut butter for kids?” My feeling is, like so many wholesome foods, from dark leafy greens to summer berries, they’re all good. Choose what you like, and go for variety. Peanuts, tree nuts and seeds all have a somewhat different nutritional profile; all have benefits to offer. Almonds, for example, are high in vitamin E; walnuts are a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids; and peanuts supply a healthy dose of folate. I usually keep a couple of different ones on hand at any given time and rotate them in my food prep.
All nut and seed butters are rich in both protein and fat, which is one of the reasons I like to feed them to my kids: they stave off hunger over the long haul. And while most of the fat in nut butters is the “good” kind, it does make them calorically dense, roughly 90 to 100 calories a tablespoon. So enjoy your nut butters, but keep the portion reasonable. Also, look for natural nut butters without added sugar or hydrogenated fat, two additions that diminish nutritional value.
The most common way for kids to eat nut butter, is of course, on a PB&J. But a little imagination and the options are endless. Grab a jar of sunflower seed butter, or almond butter, or yes, peanut butter, and get smearing.
Using an apple corer, remove the core from the center of an apple. Cut the apple crosswise to make two 1/3-inch thick slices. Spread one apple slice with your favorite nut or seed butter. Sprinkle with granola. Set the second apple slice on top. Great as a main course for breakfast or lunch.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Grahams
Snap a whole-grain graham cracker in half and scatter 8 or so chocolate chips on top of one half (the darker the chocolate, the better for you!). Heat in a toaster oven until the chocolate softens (less than a minute). Remove from the oven and spread the chocolate over the graham cracker. Smear the other half with peanut butter and sandwich the two together. A healthy and filling sweet.
Nut Butter and Jam Sushi
Cut the crusts off 1 slice of whole wheat bread. Cut the slice in half lengthwise. Soften the bread in the microwave for 10 seconds. Spread a thin layer of peanut or other nut butter and jam on both slices. Roll up like sushi and eat with chopsticks. A fun alternative to a standard sandwich.
Nut Butter Pretzel Bites
Sandwich 1 teaspoon of peanut, cashew nut, sunflower or other favorite nut butter between two pretzel thins. Makes a filling lunchbox addition or afternoon snack.
For a handy tip on storing natural nut butter, head here.
03.22.2011 at 3:01 PM #
Awesome suggestions! That has me thinking out of the box! Kyle and Dean are allergic to nuts — but I need to be brave and start exploring the alternatives.
03.22.2011 at 4:18 PM #
I love these ideas — so clever. As the mom of a nut-allergic kid, I have to say, it does suck. (And I, too, had my kids try peanuts at their 3-year-old well-check appointments!!!) But we have learned that E has outgrown most of her allergies and she has her very last food challenge (a 4-hour event at the allergist’s office) this Friday! Fingers crossed. I hope to be making some of these goodies soon! 🙂 THANKS, as always, for these terrific ideas!
03.22.2011 at 4:18 PM #
That’s encouraging about the allergies. Fingers crossed, indeed.
03.27.2011 at 3:13 AM #
Fun ideas! I went to the market and stocked up on some different nut butters. Cashew butter (which we hadn’t tried before) was a big hit. Not surprisingly, the graham cracker, nut butter, chocolate chip combo is the favorite so far ;o)
03.27.2011 at 3:13 AM #
Thanks for the comments. It’s really helpful to me to know what is useful for readers.
03.30.2011 at 2:43 AM #
Thank you! I have been working on trying to figure out things (especially with protein in them) to pack in Zoe’s lunch that she will actually eat. She Loveddd.. the green apple slices, almond butter with some of the Morford granola sprinkled on top sandwiches. I squeezed lemon juice on the apple slices to keep them from turning brown in her lunch and to add more tart flavor, which she likes. Thanks again Katie for reducing my lunch making stress for a particular eater:)
06.11.2011 at 10:24 AM #
http://www.momskitchenhandbook.com is amazing, bookmarked!