5 Nut-Free Spreads to Use Instead of Peanut Butter -- and Safe for School
As the mom of a child with nut allergies, I appreciate that most schools are now nut-aware or even nut-free. But for moms of non-allergic children who adore peanut butter, that poses a challenge of how to pack a safe lunch that your child will love to eat.
Before I get to my five nut-free alternatives for the classic PB&J sandwich, I wonder what is it about peanut butter that kids and moms love so much – and can we replicate those loveable qualities in a nut-free spread that is an easy swap?
Moms love that PB is:
- not perishable
- easy to prep
- guaranteed kids will eat it, not swap it
- good source of protein
- fairly low sugar and nutritious
Kids love that PB is:
- smooth and creamy
- not chewy
Sneaky Chef’s ideas for nut-free sandwich spreads kids will love:
1. Sneaky Chef No-Nut Butter (or other PB alternative)
I came up with my PB alternative for my daughter Sami who was born with tree nut and many other allergies. As a mom on a mission to get healthier superfoods easily into our kids’ diets, I wasn’t happy with the quality of the PB alternatives on the market – and frankly, my kids didn’t like their taste. So I innovated a close replica of the texture and taste of beloved PB only mine is made from peas! Yup, that’s right….I worked with pea farmers to make allergen-free yellow peas taste more like peanuts. The right amount of roasting and addition of some wholesome ingredients resulted in my Sneaky Chef No-Nut Butter that’s now taking the industry by storm! It can now be found on many store shelves nationwide – or soon on my own website.
2. Hummus – store-bought (or see my Intro to Hummus recipe below)
As our kids grow, their palate grows too—though some kids need to be introduced to stronger flavors more slowly than others. My Intro to Hummus recipe uses kid-friendly taste of No-Nut Butter in place of the stronger flavors of sesame paste and garlic traditionally used in more sophisticated hummus. Spread this on a sandwich and the combination of whole grains, protein and fiber from the beans and good fats make this a substantial lunch for sustained energy (see recipe below).
3. Ricotta n' Honey – ricotta cheese is smoother and less sour tasting than cottage cheese and features more protein and calcium than cream cheese….drizzle with honey and it is a great sandwich spread kids will love.
4. Greek Yogurt and Banana – not just greek yogurt, because that’s too wet – here’s my trick to get Greek yogurt even thicker (remember, it’s already thicker than regular yogurt). My trick will give it more of the consistency of cream cheese only with way more calcium and protein and none of the fat. Simply place a strainer in a medium bowl and line it with two layers of paper towels. Add some Greek-style yogurt and allow it to strain in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to several days. The result is like cream cheese consistency! (I’ve even used this as healthy “frosting” in my new book, Sneaky Blends.
5. Cocoa Bean Dip Start with simple to make Sneaky Chef White Bean Puree and add cocoa and honey:
1 can white beans (Great Northern, navy, butter, or cannellini)
2-3 tablespoons water
Rinse and drain the beans and place them in the bowl of your food processor. Add 1 tablespoon of the water, then pulse on high until you have a smooth puree. If necessary, use a little more water, a tiny bit at a time, until the mixture smoothes out and no pieces or full beans are visible.
My "Intro to Hummus" recipe
Makes 4 servings
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons honey
4 teaspoons water (a little more if needed to make smooth)
*my delicious new No-Nut Butter (peanut butter alternative made from golden peas can be found here or feel free to substitute another PB alternative)
Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and puree on high, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl until mixture is a very smooth dip.
Missy Chase Lapine is the NYT bestselling author and creator of the Sneaky Chef cookbooks and foods. Her new book, Sneaky Blends, comes out in September 2016. For more info, visit http://www.thesneakychef.com