Crave-worthy Seed and Nut Butters

It’s time to indulge in six scrumptious nut butters and seed pastes, all of which are packed full of the healthy fats your body needs to release (and burn) stored body fat. Here’s the skinny on how they taste, and how to use them. They leave peanut butter in the dust!

Nut Butters: Buy or DIY?

When you shop for raw nut butter, always check the ingredients label. You’re looking for products made from raw nuts (or seeds), with no sugar or preservatives added. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the store or want to save some money, you can make your own nut butter with a food processor.

Grind the nuts down to a fine powder, scraping the pieces down the sides of the container as needed. Just keep grinding — first the powder will clump, then after 10 to 15 minutes the oil will be released and you’ll be left with creamy nut butter. The longer you grind, the smoother the texture will be. Make sure you refrigerate any leftovers.

When buying nut butter, choose raw, organic varieties (crunchy or smooth — your choice). Raw nut butter has the same nutritional advantages of raw nuts. You’ll notice peanut butter isn’t on this list — that’s because peanuts are rarely found raw; they spoil too quickly. You’ll find at least almond butter in most major supermarkets; you might have to hunt a bit more for the other types, but health food stores will carry them.

Almond Butter

What it tastes like: Less sweet than peanut butter, not quite as fatty as cashew butter; even the smooth version has a little extra texture.

What it looks like: A shade darker than peanut butter, speckled with tiny dark-brown flecks.

What makes it special: Lots of vitamin E, biotin, manganese, copper and magnesium — and plenty of healthy monounsaturated fats.

How to use it: Add almond butter to a smoothie, slather it on celery or apple slices.

Cashew Butter

What it tastes like: Pure decadence! A little richer and less sweet than peanut butter.

What it looks like: Just a shade darker than peanut butter.

What makes it special: Incredibly high in copper, plus rich in phosphorous, magnesium, manganese and zinc. Rich in monounsaturated fat.

How to use it: Delicious spread on a sprouted-grain English muffin, cashew butter is also yummy with sliced jicama, or added to a curry sauce, to give it some extra richness.

Hazelnut Butter

What it tastes like: Rich and mildly sweet.

What it looks like: About like almond butter.

What makes it special: Rich in vitamin E, B vitamins, copper, manganese and magnesium — and you’ll often find it with added cocoa. Yum! Just make sure the hazelnut butter you’ve snagged is sugar-free. (Sorry, Nutella!)

How to use it: Great as a spread for sprouted grain toast, or added to a smoothie. Sprinkle with cacao powder for a fake Nutella.

Sunflower Seed Butter

What it tastes like: Conspicuously smooth and mildly sweet.

What it looks like: A few shades lighter than peanut butter.

What makes it special: Very rich in vitamin E, copper, thiamin, manganese, selenium, phosphorus and magnesium.

How to use it: Absolutely delicious added to a baked sweet potato. Try it!

 Sesame Tahini

What it tastes like: Strong, edging toward savory; not sweet at all. Some say it’s a little bitter and dry.

What it looks like: A creamy off-white — a little lighter than sunflower seed butter.

What makes it special: This is the base ingredient for hummus. It’s also incredibly rich in copper, plus a rich source of manganese, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and zinc. Contains heart-healthy lignans and resists rancidity.

How to use it: Tahini is a flavor enhancer for hummus. It also makes a great salad dressing: Just thin it with a little water.

Hemp butter

What it tastes like: A little bit like a cross between sunflower seeds and pine nuts.

What it looks like: Green! Varying degrees of green, that is, depending on the brand. Texture varies from nearly-whole seeds to a smooth, homogenous whole.

Why it’s so good for you: Hemp seeds  are incredibly high in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and easy-to-digest protein.This butter may be a littler harder to find than the other nut butters, but it’s worth it!

How to use it: This one is also tasty atop roasted or baked root veggies, and it’s a wonderful addition to a green smoothie.