Photo courtesy of Rachel Kengle.

Peanut butter is a classic staple. From the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches of youth, to the more refined peanut sauces featured in many ethnic restaurants, it is hard not to find peanut butter appealing. As college students, we are often bombarded with peanut butter. I can speak from my own experience in receiving care packages while away at school that were loaded with the omnipresent jar filled with the goodness of peanut butter. But, as we embark on this whole young adult adventure, I couldn’t help but wonder if there is more to life than peanut butter.

At first I felt guilty in abandoning peanut butter like a worn down piece of clothing, but knowing my tendency to exaggerate my feelings I shuddered the ridiculous emotion out of my consciousness and thrust myself into the nearest supermarket. I am a girl on a mission, a mission to discover the wonders of the culinary world, a culinary world that expands beyond just simple peanut butter.

It did not take long for me to discover the exciting world of nut butters. I cannot believe that there is such a variety available. Through much research on the internet, mainly on health and fitness blogs, I have found that there are a plethora of nut butters including: almond butter, hazelnut butter, cashew butter and macadamia butter. Each of these nut butters offers a great substitute to the blasé peanut butter, both taste wise and nutrition wise. In my nut butter research I decided to try out the almond nut butter and hazelnut butter. I can honestly tell you, reader, that my decision to try both of these nut butters has been a monumental event in my young adult life. I could not believe that I have spent so many years, so many sandwiches and so many snacks on plain old peanut butter. As great as peanut butter is, we all have to go through a grown up change (I know I rolled my eyes at the phrase “grown up” too) and exploring the nut butter options is a great way to begin the metamorphosis into a fluttering young, nut butter lover.

Firstly, let me explain to you the magnificence, the splendor and the absolute delight that I had in my trying almond butter. I was suspicious, of course, in trying a new food (a healthy skepticism makes for a great food critic). Nevertheless, I unscrewed the top of the almond butter and rammed a spoon down into the depths of the jar. The first taste was so great and quite unexpected. This nut butter is less sweet than regular peanut butter and has a thicker constitution. All of the health benefits of almonds are included in this delectable spread, including: a good source of protein and high sources of vitamin E, manganese, and monounsaturated fats (source I would recommend almond nut butter on toast with banana slices, oatmeal, and even plain off of the spoon. Trust me, it’s just that good!

Secondly, I tried “Nutella” a well known hazelnut and cocoa mixture nut butter. This nut butter is more of a dessert topping than just a simple nut butter. It is less thick than regular peanut butter, great for spreading and dipping. Nutella is great on strawberries as a special kick to dessert, on oatmeal for a little sweetness and on graham crackers. This nut butter has a great amount of protein, much better than just simple chocolate sauce. In a single serving there is 3grams of protein compared to the negligent amount of protein in chocolate sauce (>1 gram). What can be better than a chocolate tasting spread that also has great health benefits? Hazelnuts pack powerful sources of vitamin E and antioxidants. Nutella definitely captures the essence of both nutrition and flavor.

As it turns out, venturing out into the world of “grown up” food is completely beneficial. Not only do I get the nutrients of nuts, but I also get a unique flavor. In my eyes this is the best of both worlds. Sometimes this whole getting older phenomenon is not such a bad thing. For one, we no longer have toothless smiles and we also develop our own tastes. Whether it is peanut butter, almond butter, or hazelnut butter, branching out of one’s palate comfort zone is just a part of tasting the world.

Rachel Kengle is a sophomore at the University of South Florida, majoring in Psychology. She loves to be busy and is an avid yoga student, likes to run for fun, the president of a few student organizations and a member of NSCS. However, she is most known for her culinary flair as she is a very talented baker and cook. She cooks and bakes healthful and frugal dishes that energize your body and are reasonably priced. She loves experiencing new things whether it is a new fitness class, a new book, or a new language. Taking part in this blogging experience will only whet her appetite to lead a healthy lifestyle while inspiring others to do the same.