Peanut butter was never something that I found particularly hard to give up when I started Phase 1. But I know that for many people, this slightly salty, sometimes sweet paste is a staple in their diets.
While nuts are encouraged on the Phase 1 diet, peanuts are strictly prohibited on the Phase 1 because of their propensity towards mycotoxin contamination. Peanuts are in fact a legume or a bean and not a nut. Peanut oil is a common fat used for cooking (I believe a certain popular fast food chicken chain uses peanut oil to cook all of their chicken sandwiches and chicken nuggets…), so while on Phase 1, be sure to ask any restaurant if they use this ingredient in their cooking. Peanuts are found in a ton of processed foods that you will see in your grocery store. While not as ubiquitous as corn or grain perhaps, peanuts are a staple in the American diet.
Peanut butter is certainly tasty, hence it’s use many desserts. Some health practitioners encourage it because of its protein and good fat content. The mycotoxin issue never really gets addressed. But there are some obvious substitutes for peanut butter that, for me at least, go a long way on the Phase 1 diet.
Nut butters, such as cashew, walnut and almond are similar in flavor and consistency to peanut butter; they can be directly substituted for the most part. Nut butters are rich in vitamins, good fats and other nutrients. Critics may site their high caloric content as reason to avoid, but if you are giving up sugar and grains, nut butters can go a long way towards filling that caloric void in a tasty, satisfying way. I usually go for the raw variety. Look out for nut butters that have been sweetened, even with “natural” sweeteners like agave and evaporated cane juice. Simply raw, unsweetened and organic nut butters are what to look for.
Coconut butter is another option that I’ve written about on here before. This is different from coconut oil, which is great for cooking. Coconut butter also has a similar consistency to peanut butter. One of my favorite Phase 2 breakfasts is steel cut oats with a table spoon of coconut butter and almond butter.
Artisana is one of my favorite raw nut butter companies; their products are available at Whole Foods and a number of mom and pop health food stores.
Nut butters work as a stand alone snack; I’ll often just eat a spoonful if I’m hungry between meals. But they work wonderfully as ingredients in smoothies, too. Nut butters are great on top of green apples or carrots for a Phase 1 snack. Denni’s Almond Bread, available in our book, Cooking Your Way to Health, makes a great substitute for regular bread (and it’s Phase 1 Friendly!); spreading some almond butter and coconut butter on top will make a great substitute for boring, old (mycotoxin and sugar laden) peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
In short, replacing peanut butter is easy, and in doing so you’ll prevent getting any added mycotoxins into your diet and add all the benefits that nuts have to offer.