Peek inside most healthy eaters’ pantries and you’re likely to find a jar of peanut or almond butter. Not only is nut butter delish, it’s also an easy, plant-based way to add protein to smoothies, snacks, and even stir-fries. And as it turns out, the whole nut butter category as a whole is getting totally revamped this year.
Whole Foods predicts that 2020 will be the year of Everything Spreads and Butters. Their trend spotters are seeing new spreadables on their shelves that go beyond just your average jar of almond or peanut butter. A few in particular to look out for: watermelon seed butter, pumpkin seed butter, and macadamia nut butter.
While all seeds and nuts are brimming with benefits, macadamia nut butter in particular has some pretty noteworthy ones and its creamy, buttery taste makes it super versatile. Here, registered dietitian Maggie Michalczyk, RDN, gives the nutritional low-down, including how it compares to other nut butters, and how to use it (besides just eating it out of the jar with a spoon).
What are the health benefits of macadamia nut butter?
“Macadamia nut butter is a great nut butter that has several health benefits and, like all other nut butters, is a great source of both protein and fat,” Michalczyk says. She adds that the high protein and healthy fats are what make mac nut butter so satiating and filling.
Nutrition varies slightly between brands, but for example, a two-tablespoon serving of F-Bomb Macadamia Nut Butter ($20) has 22 grams of fat, two grams of protein, three grams of fiber, and four grams of carbohydrates. Vör Pure Macadamia Nut Butter ($23), meanwhile, has 24 grams of fat, three grams of protein, three grams of fiber, and five grams of carbohydrates per two-tablespoon serving.
While the protein and healthy fats are two big benefits, they certainly aren’t the only ones. Michalczyk says macadamia nuts are also a good source of vitamin E and magnesium. Vitamin E is a major beauty booster, reducing inflammation that can manifest as acne and other skin problems. Magnesium, meanwhile, is connected to better brain health, sleep, and lowering cortisol levels.
“Macadamia nuts are also a good source of antioxidants, which protect the body from free radicals and inflammation,” Michalczyk says. “They are one of the best sources of flavonoids—a type of antioxidant—of all the tree nuts, which help to reduce inflammation and can even help to lower cholesterol.”
How does it compare to other nut butters?
Okay, so you get it: this is one healthy nut butter. But as far as how it compares to your trusty stand-bys, Michaelczyk is more of a fan of using them on a rotating basis instead of replacing them completely, as each nut butter has its own unique nutritional benefits.
“They are all very comparable to each other in terms of calories, however almond and peanut butter have a higher protein content…and macadamia nut butter has a higher amount of fat,” she says. Peanut butter and almond butter both offer up about seven grams of protein per two-tablespoon serving—more than twice of what you’d get in most servings of macadamia nut butter.
“If we’re looking at it from strictly a vitamin and mineral perspective macadamia nuts contain a few more minerals than peanut and almond butter, but the others have more protein,” she adds.
She also says that macadamia nut butter tends to be the most expensive nut butter of them all (in case you couldn’t tell by the prices above)—another reason why you might want to use it to vary your nut butters, not make it your only ride-or-die.
How to make your own at home
When it comes to buying macadamia nut butter, Michalczyk says to look at the ingredients list to make sure only macadamia nuts and salt are used and to stay to ones with added sugars or oils. This will ensure you’re getting the healthiest product possible.
You can also make your own macadamia nut butter at home if you’re feeling ambitious. All you have to do is toss three cups of raw macadamia nuts into your blender and blend for 60 seconds. That’s literally it. The end result is creamy mac butter. You can also use these instructions as a base and tweak your recipe to switch it up. Check out a couple ways below:
If you’re a chocolate lover, this recipe is right up your alley. Cocoa powder, maple syrup, and vanilla extract provide the sweet, chocolatey taste while a blend of cashews and macadamia nuts makes it extra creamy and provides a whole lot of protein.
Another ketogenic diet-approved recipe, this one combines macadamia nuts with cashews for an extra-creamy texture and sweetens it up using a hint of vanilla. It’s so delicious you’ll be eating it by the spoonful.
Another one for chocolate lovers, this one incorporates clever use of coconut flakes for a slightly tropical feel.
How to cook with mac nut butter
Whether you choose to buy your macadamia nut butter or make it yourself, there’s no shortage of ways you can incorporate the nut butter into your foods more. Check out the below recipes for a few ideas:
Candy that doubles as a post-workout snack and is Paleo-approved? Having macadamia nut butter on hand can make that a reality. The chocolate is made with cacao butter, vanilla, and honey for an antioxidant-rich outer layer.
Combine your macadamia nut butter with tamarind paste, coriander powder, and dried chili to punch up your veggies and tofu. The creamy and spiciness will really punch up your stir-fry game.
These delicious bars will totally replace your Rice Krispie treats—and mac nut butter is the starring ingredient, serving as the caramel and “glue” that holds the popcorn together. Genius, right?
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