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Guide to peanut butter substitutes amid Pick n Pay’s recall of three brands over health risks

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Looking for an alternative to peanut butter? You are in the right place!

Salted Tahini Doughnuts. Picture: Jennifer Chase

Looking for an alternative to peanut butter? You are in the right place!

PEANUT butter is one of the most popular condiments in South Africa. Used in everything from the classic peanut butter and jam sandwich to flavouring cookies, adding protein and healthy fats to smoothies, and being enjoyed on a banana or apple, peanut butter is a universal part of many people’s diets.

Peanut butter is also relatively inexpensive, particularly when considering its nutritional profile and caloric density, so if you are on a budget and want a satiating, nutritious, plant-based protein and source of heart-healthy fats, peanut butter can be an excellent dietary staple.

But since the news of Pick n Pay recalling three brands of peanut butter over health risks broke on Saturday, February 3, many people have been nervous about purchasing peanut butter jars of the lunchtime favourite, although major brands were not part of the recall.

Citing health risks, the retailer revealed in a statement that it was recalling No Name Smooth Peanut Butter, Eden Smooth Peanut Butter and Eden Crunch Peanut Butter, which are sold throughout the country.

“Following in-house standard testing, these products were found to have higher than regulated levels of aflatoxin, which may constitute a health risk. Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring mycotoxin, but the levels we detected were higher than the regulatory threshold,” the retailer said.

All stocks of these products had already been removed from all stores countrywide, it said. “No other peanut butter brand at Pick n Pay is involved in the recall.”

It said the health and safety of its customers was its priority.

The retailer also urged customers who bought the products to return them to the store for a full refund if any product has an expiry date between now and July 2025.

“We’’re asking our customers to please check their pantries and food cupboards and make sure to return the products concerned to any Pick n Pay store for a full refund.”

“If any customer has concerns, they are quite welcome to return these products whether or not they fall within this expiry date, or whether products have been opened or not,” it said.

But while major brands of jarred peanut butter are not being recalled, this may be an opportune time to try a few substitutes.

Below we have a few suggestions.

Hummus is an appetiser that has become quite popular in South Africa. Picture: Pexels Naim Benjejelloun

Hummus

Hummus is an appetiser that has become quite popular in South Africa. It is a great, healthy choice for sandwiches (and dips, too).

You can buy this sesame-chickpea spread at the deli counter of many supermarkets, or find recipes online to make your own. High in protein, it is especially good for vegetarian families.

People who are allergic to peanuts may also be sensitive to sesame, so proceed with caution.

Pecan butter

Pecan butter is a delicious and creamy alternative to peanut butter. Made from roasted pecans, this spread delivers a distinct, rich flavour that differs from traditional peanut butter.

Pecan butter works well in various recipes, as well as a spread on toast or mixed into oatmeal. Blending the roasted pecans into a smooth or chunky consistency, depending on your preference, allows for versatility in dishes.

Though pricier than peanut butter, due to the higher cost of pecans, this luxurious spread is an excellent substitute for those seeking a different nutty experience in their meals.

Peanut butter and tahini are very similar from a nutrition and consistency perspective. Picture: Pexels Alesia Kozik

Tahini

Peanut butter and tahini are very similar from a nutrition and consistency perspective. They can be used interchangeably in baking, so no need to adjust quantities. However, the flavour of tahini is less nutty and more bitter.

For some people, the bitterness of tahini is not going to work. But for people who love complex flavours, tahini can be a super delicious substitute for peanut butter in both savoury and sweet dishes like smoothies.

Adding a little salt will help balance out the bitterness.

Coconut butter

This last peanut butter substitute is probably the one that may seem the most unlike peanut butter, but hear me out: coconut butter, which is a paste made from shredded coconut, has an intense coconut-y flavour and richness that is delicious and tastes great with jam.

It is both nutty and naturally sweet at the same time, and companies are even making flavoured versions of coconut butter that contain interesting things like cocoa if you want to shake up your lunch routine.

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