PB imposters


Remember the seventies? I do. It’s memorable for so many reasons. My mom’s hair was teased almost as high as Marge Simpson’s, I had a drawer full of ‘hot pants’ and my cousin Diane had shiny white go-go boots that I coveted with all my heart even though her feet were 3 sizes bigger than mine. We also ate peanut butter with abandon in those days. You name the place and peanut butter was there: even on school trips and at brownie camp. In fact, it was slathered thickly and generously over bread and crackers just about everywhere kids congregated.

Today, of course, that’s all changed. As I wrote in an article for Canadian Health & Lifestyle that will be out in their fall issue, peanut allergies have one of the highest incidences of producing rapid, life-threatening reactions such as anaphylaxis, which can lead to cardiac arrest and causes 150 deaths a year.

Needless to say, this problem means that as ubiquitous as it once was, peanut butter is no longer allowed at school or day care. New products are being launched to fill this empty niche so that non-allergic kids and adults can enjoy a peanut butter-style experience away from home. Sabrina and I tasted a couple of these new options last week and offer you our tasting notes below:

No Nuts Golden Pea Butter: while this gluten- and cholesterol-free blend of dried peas has a great texture that mimics peanut butter well, we agreed that it could use a bit of salt to perk up the flavour. While pea butter doesn’t taste exactly like peanut butter and may not satisfy the palates of die-hard peanut butter fans, it can be used as a direct substitute in all recipes that call for peanut butter, which is a bonus for bake sales and lunch box treat-makers.

Blue Diamond Creamy Almond Butter: Although still not appropriate for school use, this product has the texture of natural-style peanut butter. The taste doesn’t mimic peanut butter but delivers a true roasted almond flavour. We both thought this product offered predominantly adult appeal. Although we didn’t try baking with it, our experience has proven that this texture doesn’t usually work in recipes developed for conventional peanut butter.

Are you a peanut butter lover? If so, do you eat the natural stuff or the kind that reigned supreme in my suburban seventies childhood?


21 Responses to PB imposters

  1. Diva says:

    I’m eating peanut butter right now, atop my toasted whole wheat English muffin! I do love it and I buy the natural stuff, just peanuts and salt. Funny, that’s what my mom bought in the 1970’s and back then we hated it … we wanted Skippy or Jiff! Now I can’t stand that stuff. I only use it for baking cookies.

    Interesting about the pea butter, I’ve never heard of it.

  2. danamccauley says:

    I still haven’t cottoned on to the natural peanut butter. If I’m eating peanut butter, it’s always the manufactured stuff.

    That said, living with someone who has a peanut allergy, that’s not very often!

  3. 24carrots says:

    I love, love, love any nut butter, and only the natural stuff will do. MaraNatha Almond Butter Crunchy ranks #1 for me.

    I would be curious to know what you and Sabrina think of the SoyNut Butter Brand.

    And for those with allergies I think sunflower seed butter is delicious.

  4. Jamie says:

    Definitely natural. Not too nuts about hazelnut butter though. Maybe because it reminds me of nutella so I feel like I’m eating something a little too good.

  5. Sharon Haslam says:

    I’m a Nutella girl–can’t stand peanut butter in any way, shape or form! Don’t my four kids ADORE it. After many jars I can finally make a sandwich for them without gagging–sorry PB lovers. My oldest is health conscious and prefers the organic–no added oils or sugar and only 7 grams of fat as opposed to the 70’s stuff which has 18g of fat. He’s in high school and they aren’t nut free (didn’t know that till the first day of grade 9) so he switches it up with almond, hazelnut, cashew, macadamia or peanut butter almost every day. Al fresco–no jelly!

  6. Barb says:

    I have tried natural a time or two but prefer manufactured. I buy the large family sized jar and share it with the birds all winter! That way I can get through it before it spoils and everybody’s happy.

  7. Hélène says:

    Peanut butter is still allow in the school that my son goes to. Back in Nova Scotia all nuts products were not allowed. I was surprised to find that there was no restrictions when I moved to BC.

    I love peanut butter and eat it every morning on my toasts.

  8. Cheryl says:

    I eat peanut butter every, or nearly, every day. As do my kids. We transitioned from the mass-market stuff to the natural variety a few years ago and haven’t looked back. The secret, I’ve found, is storing the jar upside down in the fridge so the oil doesn’t separate and the bottom doesn’t harden & dry out.

  9. Cashew butter is one of my favourites. I rarely buy it because I have no self control, but I prefer it to peanut butter. It’s so decadent!

  10. Sarah says:

    Dana, I’m the same way. I grew up on Skippy and Jiff, and I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of natural peanut butter, but my boyfriend is a huge fan of the stuff and has slowly been converting me. I have to admit, I like that I don’t get a huge sugar rush when I have peanut butter-honey sandwiches on toasted English muffins.

  11. Natashya says:

    We keep both the all natural and the Kraft stuff. Generally we like to get as pure a product as possible.. but sometimes you just crave the classics!
    I am so thankful that I never had to go through any severe allergies with my kids.

  12. 24carrots says:

    Dana, as a follow up from this conversation. I actually just blogged about 5 Things I Hate (http://wp.me/pAp5c-8z) and Jif Peanut Butter is in my top 5. I didn’t realize I felt that strongly until I started making the list! Thanks for getting me thinking.

  13. Heather says:

    I love my kraft PB, so do my kids, and husband, we go through a huge jar every couple of months (faster when school is out). We used to grind our own PB when I was a kid, it took some getting used to, but I grew to love it, then the local whole foods store that had the grinder got rid of it, so back to kraft we went, not sure if I could switch back now.

    I’ve heard that many kids who are alergic to Peanuts often are alergic to peas too, so wonder if Pea Butter will last long.

  14. Martin Kouprie says:

    Heather, that’s my problem exactly. I’m allergic to all legumes so no pea butter for me!

  15. John says:

    I will go completely off peanut butter for long stretches, and then will obliterate a small jar of Kraft crunchy in a very short period. Hot toasted english muffin (or Portugese roll) just out of the toaster (or toaster oven), with just peanut butter. Nothing like it.
    I feel I need to say ‘just’ peanut butter, because some will actually butter their toast, and then add peanut butter, and I just don’t understand that. Two butters? …and the melting of the peanut butter into the toast is an important part of the experience for me.
    I feel bad for this generation of kids. Those who are allergic to peanut butter (how did this allergy get so rampant?) and the kids who don’t get to experience a good old peanut butter sandwich in their school lunch. Thank goodness for weekends!

  16. Rachel says:

    I like the natural stuff, although only certain brands – some of them are far too dry and flat. My favourite is Adams, which I can almost never find in Toronto.

    I grew up on Skippy, and I still love the memory of that kind of peanut butter, but I find a lot of the commercial pbs taste almost grainy to me now. I think it’s the kind of sugar they use.

  17. Hi there,
    Good site, I just found it and I am already a fan.

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