Now that school has once again started for my kids, I am finding myself faced with the struggle of what to pack them for lunch. Not only am I concerned about preparing them something that is healthy, tasty, easy and portable, but in accordance to our preschool’s rules, I must also ensure that their food is 100% nut-free. More and more schools and after-school programs are banning peanut butter, as nut allergies are on the rise. If your child’s school is like mine, then it too is one of the many schools that have begun banning all nut products from its campus in order to safeguard every child’s wellbeing. This can present quite a challenge for families with children who absolutely love peanut butter, such as my own. Luckily for us parents, there has also been a rise in the production of nut-free sandwich spreads made with ingredients such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and soy nuts. These tasty peanut butter substitutes provide healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Here are a few alternatives for parents who might be trying to keep a peanut-loving child happy inside a peanut-free classroom this school year.
Sunflower Seed Butter
The closest spread to peanut butter in terms of flavor and texture is sunflower seed butter. The most common brand of sunflower seed butter is SunButter, which is relatively easy to find in large chain grocery stores right next to the peanut butter and even comes in creamy, crunchy, or organic unsweetened varieties. Sunflower seed butter is packed with nutrition and flavor and contains less sugar and saturated fat than peanut butter.
Soynut butter is made from roasted soybeans. It contains 7g of soy protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids and 1200mg of OMEGA-3 fat. The most common brand found in grocery stores is Wowbutter, which is available in classic creamy or crunchy. With a taste similar to peanut butter, soynut butter is also usually gluten and dairy free.
Pumpkin Seed Butter
Pumpkin seed butter is another great alternative spread. Made from roasted pumpkin seeds, this butter has loads of vitamins, fiber and protein. Although not as easy to find in stores, pumpkin seed butter can be found online from popular brands such as Blue Mountain Better Than Roasted. You can also make your own homemade pumpkin seed butter at home with easy recipes such as the one found here, which adds the taste of cinnamon for an extra kick.
Although not necessarily considered nutritious, cookie butter is definitely delicious. Trader Joe’s offers this sweetly spiced spread that provides a tasty treat that is sure to be a lunchbox favorite. A thin spread paired with whole grain wheat bread makes a great peanut butter sandwich alternative every once in awhile.