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Simple Substitutes for Nuts and Peanuts

Simple Substitutes for Nuts and Peanuts

This article originally appeared on myAllergy in April 2016

I often wonder if tree nuts will be such a strong element of cuisine when the current generation of youth enter adulthood. With the sheer number of kids allergic to them at this point, and the countless number that will develop allergies in their first few years, will the popularity of these protein-rich foods be maintained? Or will it wane off just like peanuts has in order to satisfy consumer demands? I can't predict the future of food but I certainly can list some alternatives to get you through the present. Being allergic to nuts shouldn't mean certain home-cooked cultural foods, tasty sweets, or convenient snacks are off limits to you. Below are some options to consider using as substitutes for nuts. 

Sunflower seeds

My friends and family have always told me that if I wasn't allergic to peanuts I'd be "one of those peanut butter-obsessed people". And I really can't argue that. If you saw how much sunflower seed butter I consume you would not believe it. I've posted about my favorite brand before, Sunbutter, which comes in several varieties from chunky to smooth. I like to have a few different ones stocked at once to use in different recipes. The rich flavor and creamy texture of this seed makes it ideal for both sweet and savory recipes. Use it to substitute peanut or almond butter in any dish.

Some suggestions
- Add 1 tbsp of smooth sunflower seed butter to your smoothie in the morning
- Fill chocolate cups to make Reese's famous "peanut butter cups"
- Melt with chocolate for a delectable chocolate bar
- Sub in to Thai peanut sauce to pour over rice, veggies, noodles, or any meat
- Blend with tomatoes, coconut milk, and veggies for the perfect African "peanut" soup
- Blend with coconut milk icecream batter for a delicious frozen treat

Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are very inexpensive and can be bought either dried as a spice or pureed as tahini. Although tahini is most commonly used in Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine it can be added to a number of different dishes. I find it best in savory dishes over sweet unless the sugar is added by honey or date syrup, both of which compliment the dry taste of the seed.

Some suggestions
- Spread on toast with a good dollop of honey or date syrup for breakfast
- Use in marinades for meat when the recipe calls for almonds or almond butter
- sprinkle over barbecued meats, noodles, pulled pork, or teriyaki chicken instead of crushed cashews or peanuts
- Add to muffin batter or breakfast cookie dough in place of almond or other nut butters

Toasted Rice Powder

This is one to make at home as you need it and adds aroma and texture. Toast some rice in a pan until it's golden brown and then either mash in a mortar and pestle or grind up in a coffee grinder. It truly smells nutty.

Some suggestions
- Use as a finishing seasoning or garnish for stir-fries, BBQ meats, and any umami-rich dishes. Sprinkle right before serving
- Mix with melted dark chocolate for a seriously tasty chocolate bar

Pumpkin Seeds

These are fun to eat shelled or in the shell and you can easily roast your own. They're best eaten whole or chopped up, shelled of course, as the flavor is very mild. I would say their best attribute it the crunch, so sub these in whenever the recipe calls for crushed/chopped nuts.

Some suggestions
- Top breakfast muffins before sliding them into the oven
- Fold into cookies, carrot cake, or homemade energy bars
- Sprinkle over coconut milk yogurt with honey for breakfast
- Toss with oats and dried fruits for a perfect granola mix
- Leave the shells on and season with dried herbs and spices for a yummy party snack

Do you have any go-to substitutes? We'd love to hear them!

 

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