Back to School Brain Food

With a comparative guide to nut and seed butter

Back to school is officially on! The start of the school year is a great time to increase essential fatty acids (EFAs) in the diet. Why?

EFAs are core building blocks that allow your body to function. Your body cannot synthesize essential fats and need to be a part of the daily diet. EFAs produce hormones and regulate the nervous system. Help your kids get the most out of school by supporting their mind, memory, and mood. One great (and easy) way to get essential fats into your kids is nut/seed butters! 

A butter breakdown 

There are many varities of nut/seed 'butters' available today and they all contain the same amount of fat per serving (approx. 1 tablespoon of any butter contains around 100 calories). Don't worry about fat, kids will quickly outrun their spoons. The following nut/seed guide compares a selection of available butters for you to choose from! 

 

Nutrition Facts

Highlights

Pros

Cons

Almond Butter

Per 32g/2Tbsp

200kcal, 7g protein, 16g fat, 7g carbohydrate

Potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc & vitamin E

-Important source of antioxidant flavonoids

-Expensive

-Sprayed with pesticides 

-Studies suggest almond production puts stress on bee populations

 

Cashew Butter

Per 32g/2Tbsp

200kcal, 6g protein, 14g fat, 10g carbohydrate

Copper, Magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc & biotin

-Heart healthy

-Creamy and versatile cooking ingredient 

-Higher carbohydrate content than most nuts

-Common allergen 

Sunflower Butter

Per 32g/2Tbsp

200kcal, 6g protein, 20g fat, 5g carbohydrate

Vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, B1, B5, B6, phosphorus, iron & folic acid

-Supplies more vitamin E than any other oil

-Cheaper than most nut butters

N/A 

Sesame Butter (Tahini)

Per 32g/2Tbsp

200kcal, 7g protein, 16g fat, 7g carbohydrate

Calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, B1, B2, protein (especially methionine and tryptophan)

 -Balanced amino acid profile (good source of protein)

-Aids in digestion, stimulating blood circulation and nervous system

-Runnier consistency 

-Distinctive flavour

Peanut Butter

Per 32g/2Tbsp

200kcal, 6g protein, 17g fat, 6g carbohydrate

Magnesium, tocopherols, biotin, folic acid, B1, B3, phosphorus & manganese

-High in protein

-High in antioxidant resveratrol

- Peanuts can cleanse the ground of fat-soluble toxins and have been shown to have high traces of pesticide chemical residues.

- Buy organic

- Common serious alergen

Wow Butter

Per 32g/2Tbsp

200cal, 7g protein, 15g fat, 8g carbohydrate

Iron, calcium, phosphorus, B1, B2, B6 & folic acid

- High in protein

- School friendly option made from soy

-Goitrogens in soy inhibit iodine uptake required for thyroid hormone production

-GMO if not certified organic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Due to the prevalence of peanut allergies, many schools are suggesting peanut-free options or implementing nut-free policies. Sunflower and sesame seed-based butters are a great alternative in schools where nuts have been banned. If your school is both nut and seed free, wow butter is a soy based alternative. If your school has a nut/seed free policy, keep it at home and make them available for snacks. To serve, cut up some fresh pita bread and vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, cucumber, celery, carrots) or fruit and dip with their favourite spread after school while the completing their homework.

Keep in mind that all nuts and seeds have high fat contents and can go rancid if not stored properly. Bulk butter bins are cheaper but the trade-off is a lower quality oil. This occurs when containers are left exposed to air. This allows oxygenation to commence, which is a process that breaks down the molecular structures of fat. For this reason alone, I always recommend buying airtight and sealed jars that have not been stored in direct sunlight. To extend shelf life, refrigerate or leave in a location without direct sunlight or heat. 

You can also make your own nut/seed butter at home!. Find out how easy it is by following this simple recipe:

Toasted Sunflower Seed Butter 

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of raw sunflower seeds
  • ½ tsp. Himalayan salt

Directions:

  1. Bake sunflower seeds on a baking sheet at 350°F for 20 minutes until lightly golden.
  2. Transfer to a food processor and blend for 10 minutes.
  3. Occasionally check the mixture and scrape down the sides.
  4. As the seeds release their natural oils it will start to become creamy.
  5. Process to your desired creaminess, add a pinch of salt and enjoy.
  6. Store in an airtight away from direct heat and sunlight.