Healthy Cooking

For Better Sleep, RDs Recommend Making a Magnesium-Rich *Almond* Butter Board Before Bed

Photo: Stocksy/ Easterday Creative
Unless you live in a pineapple under the sea or are doing a much-needed social media cleanse, you’ve likely heard that butter boards are a THING. In what feels like overnight, hundreds of videos started popping up across all social media channels with different renditions of Joshua McFadden’s “herbed” butter with warm bread recipe from the cookbook Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables.

Although RDs say that butter should not be demonized and that it can definitely have health benefits (when consumed in moderation, of course), we know that it’s not everyone's cup of tea—especially not for vegans or anyone with a dairy allergy. That being said, we definitely didn’t want to miss out on a fun food trend that's clearly the *next big thing* following the charcuterie board explosion of 2020. But how could we make a butter board that's equal parts functional, plant-based, and exceedingly delicious? Enter *almond* butter boards.

Not only does this rendition of the butter board trend feature a base of nutty, nutrient-dense almond butter (which we adore), it’s packed with magnesium-rich ingredients that can help us get a better night’s rest. Plus, we spoke with a registered dietitian who shared her tips for making an almond butter board stacked with delicious toppings that help promote restful sleep.

Ready for the dreamiest bedtime snack? Read on.

 

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Why an almond butter board is what dreams are made of (literally), according to a registered dietitian

Let's get the basics out of the way first: What is a butter board, exactly? Pretty much exactly like it sounds—creamy, golden butter spread across a board garnished with the toppings of your choice (like herbs, flaky sea salt, or drizzled honey) meant for dipping, spreading, an spooning over bread, crackers, fruit, and the like. While we're 100 percent on board, we couldn’t wait for a vegan-friendly, plant-based version to get the spotlight, too.

According to Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT, a registered dietitian based in Charleston, there may be a better way to make before-bed butter boards, and it’s nuts (literally). “There is no doubt that putting butter on a crusty piece of bread or a crunchy cracker is the stuff that dreams are made of. But if you are in the habit of enjoying a snack board before bedtime, perhaps an almond butter board can be a better match for you,” Manaker says.

Almonds, says Manaker, actually have two essential minerals that can help you catch some Z’s. “Like most other nuts, almonds contain many nutrients that support healthy sleep, including magnesium and zinc. Zinc may play a role in sleep regulation, and magnesium may positively impact sleep quality,” she says. Plus, she adds that nuts, like almonds, also contain melatonin, aka the coveted sleep hormone.

So, how exactly do you make an almond butter board? Well, in a recent TikTok video by @justinsbrand, all you need is a jar of your favorite almond butter (like Justin’s Classic Almond Butter), a good offset spatula like this one sold on Amazon, and a few of your favorite toppings. In this case, they use yummy fall flavors like apple butter, golden raisins, bee pollen, apple slices, and crackers. Using the spatula, you’ll spread the almond butter to create a base on the board (this part requires a little patience, but it’s equally as relaxing). Finally, get creative with toppings; feel free to follow their recipe or layer whatever suits your palette.

@justinsbrand Heard Butter Boards were a thing…what about Almond Butter Boards? #butterboard #almondbutterboard #justins ♬ Good Vibes (Instrumental) - Ellen Once Again

What other sleep-promoting ingredients would an RD add to an almond butter board?

Of course, many other varieties of nuts also pack great benefits for making sleep-boosting butter boards. “Spreading nut butter on your bread, crackers, fruit, or veggie sticks—regardless of whether it is almond, walnut, pistachio, or another nut—can give your body a boost of key nutrients that may help support your sleep,” Manaker explains. If you need some extra inspo, here are 10 of our favorite high-protein nut butter options to choose from.

Now, on to our favorite part: the toppings. As we mentioned, nuts definitely have this RD’s stamp of approval. So, why not add them as a garnish, too? “Along with almond butter, including walnuts on your pre-bedtime board can give the body some satiating fiber and plant-based protein to help keep hunger at bay. Enjoying walnuts will also provide additional magnesium, zinc, and melatonin. Plus, since walnuts are the only tree nut that is an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid, enjoying these nuts will offer heart health and cognitive benefits as well,” Manaker says.

But what’s Manaker’s favorite sleep-inducing secret ingredient? Here’s a hint: It’s spudtastic. “Sweet potatoes pair surprisingly well with nut butters. Instead of a grain-based toast, using a sweet potato-based ‘toast’ for your board will offer sleep-supporting nutrients like vitamin B6, which can help your body make serotonin,” she says. According to her, the body uses serotonin to "make" melatonin—aka the perfect recipe for sweet dreams. She makes her own DIY sweet potato toast by drizzling thinly-sliced sweet potatoes with EVOO and baking until crispy.

And because any form of board isn’t complete without a little fruit, Manaker says kiwis are the way to go if you want major sleep-boosting (and eye-catching) benefits. “For some sweetness and color, kiwis can be a nice addition to your board. Not only are kiwis delish, but according to research, eating two kiwis one hour before bed results in falling asleep 42 percent more quickly compared to people who don't eat kiwis before bedtime," she says.

Since crunch is always the name of the game, Manaker likes to add some oats into the almond butter board mix, too. “Sprinkling low-sugar granola on your board can help you get some quality sleep as well. Oats contain nutrients like vitamin B6 (a nutrient that helps produce serotonin) and tryptophan (the ‘sleepy' amino acid best known to be found in turkey). And the fiber in them helps make this food satisfying too,” she points out.

Although all of these foods *may* help get a better night's rest, Manaker makes sure to note that “it’s important to understand that there is no magic food that will make people sleep.” However, she adds that pairing a healthy almond butter board along with the right lifestyle practices (like limiting screen time before bed and including movement throughout your day), these foods on the almond butter board may help you get that shut-eye that you might be craving.

So, how does an RD really feel about PB? Find out:

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