SAN ANTONIO – Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a favorite of children everywhere, but almost one-third of schools have gone “peanut-free” to accommodate the growing number of students who suffer from severe peanut allergies.
"There are many other nut butter on the market today, and most can be safely brought into a peanut-free school," said Patricia Calvo, with Consumer Reports.
Consumer Reports evaluated a dozen cashew- and almond-based spreads for nutrition and taste. Like peanut butter, they are a source of protein and help keep children feeling fuller longer.
Almond butters have about 6 to 7 grams of protein per serving and cashew spreads have between 4 and 5 grams.
To prevent separation and give nut butters a creamy texture, some manufacturers add a little hydrogenated vegetable oil, such as palm or palm fruit oil, but those are mostly saturated fats. Testers found that the spreads with fewer ingredients, basically just nuts, were healthier and tasted better.
Consumer Reports expert tasters gave high scores to Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value Almond Butter Creamy for its distinct roasted almond flavor. Kirkland Signature Creamy Almond Butter from Costco has natural sweetness.
As for cashew butters, Consumer Reports recommends Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value Cashew Butter Creamy for its great cashew flavor. If you want organic, Once Again Organic Creamy Cashew Butter has a roasted cashew flavor.
If along with being peanut-free, your child’s school is also “nut-free,” you might try a sunflower seed-based butter. Consumer Reports recommends Sunbutter Natural Sunflower Spread and Trader Joe's Sunflower Seed Butter.
When shopping for children who have a nut allergy, read labels carefully. Manufacturers are required to list whether the product contains peanuts or nuts.