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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Justin's Nut Butters

The kind and generous people at Justins Nut Butter (JNB) sent me some samples of their all-natural nut butters. I was so excited to receive them in the mail! Way back in 2007—when I was working for Galaxy Granola at the SF Green Festival—a girl was handing out samples of Justin’s Natural Maple Almond Butter. Problem is, I was working and pouring samples of granola like a mad woman and could never get to the girl to get my hands on a sample. Fortunately, a friend snagged one and shared a small taste and I instantly fell in love with its unique flavor and rustic texture. And then I never saw it again until it arrived in my mailbox years later despite many unsuccessful grocery store searches. And, after indulging in a packet (or two) all to myself, it is here to stay and I have since found an ample supply at Whole Foods.
Honey Peanut Butter Ingredients: Organic Dry Roasted Peanuts, Honey Powder (sugar, honey), Organic Fruit Palm Oil, Sea Salt.
Maple Almond Butter Ingredients: Dry Roasted Almonds, Maple sugar, Organic Palm Fruit Oil, Sea Salt.

It’s been over 7 years since I completely abandoned the American classic peanut butters like Jif and Skippy because they are made with hydrogenated oils, so now I am always on the lookout for companies that produce affordable all-natural nut butters made without hydrogenated oils. For the past few years, my main almond butter staple has been Trader Joe’s Raw Almond Butter because it has but just one ingredient: almonds. Once I made the switch, I have never been tempted to go back because those peanut butters don’t even taste like peanuts to me anymore—just preservatives and sugar--now that I am accustomed to the flavor of the nut in its natural form. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that these nut butters had any added sugar, but they avoid using refined sugars and they do offer classic flavors which only contain the dry roasted nuts and organic palm fruit oil. Moreover, I am particularly impressed by JNB’s green-conscious business practices to search out natural and organic ingredients that are grown locally and sustainably harvested and then contribute back to the community through donations and volunteer efforts to a local outreach organization. As movies like Food, Inc. come out, I think we are slowly starting to think about our food in a new way—not just where it comes from, how it is made and manufactured and ultimately transported to you, but also the way in which the profits made from the food we produce can be put back into the community in ways that lead to lasting sustainability, development and improvement. Food has always been—in my opinion—the most effective way to bring people together.

JNB’s come in various flavors from Classic and Honey versions of Peanut and Almond Butter as well as Cinnamon Peanut Butter and Maple Almond Butter—but I have only tried the Honey Peanut Butter and Maple Almond Butter. The Maple Almond flavor is my favorite because it has a unique taste with a subtle maple undertone, a bit gritty in texture and just a faint hint of sweetness. I have to say that the best part of their marketing strategy is C-O-N-V-E-N-I-E-N-C-E! The nut butters come in meticulously-sealed little 1.15-ounce single serving packs that do not require refrigeration and can be easily transported anywhere. They also make smaller 0.6-ounce 100-calorie packs! Since my favorite snack while at the office is a banana with some almond butter, I used to put a few spoonfuls in a little container and cart it to the office, stick it in the refrigerator for later and then wash the container out in the evening when I got home and repeat the process the next day. Now, I can just take a pack with me with less hassle and fuss!

Now, my favorite use for nut butter is as a base for a superhero breakfast. But I also take these handy little packets to the movie theaters, on hikes, and even when on a long run for some quick protein fuel. And if you pack lunches for your kids, throw one in there—we all know kids love individual servings!

Thank you, JNB!