Here’s why we’ll all be spreading seed spreads rather than nut butters on toast in 2023

Bye bye, peanut butter. Sunflower seed spread, pumpkin seed butter and hempesto are just some of the alternatives to nut butter. 

Move over peanut butter: seed spreads are the latest wellbeing trend we’ll all be spreading on toast.

Seed spreads might not be new: tahini, made from sesame seeds, has been used for thousands of years. But according to Holland and Barrett’s 2023 Trend Report, we can expect to see brands jumping on the popularity of peanut and almond spreads by introducing ‘butters’ made from seeds.

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“Sunflower seed and hemp seed spreads are becoming more and more popular in our shops,” says Rachel Chatterton, head of food development at Holland and Barrett. 

Some examples include pumpkin seed spread, sunflower seed spread and even ‘hempesto’ – pesto made from hemp seeds.

What are the benefits of seed spreads?

All seeds have different nutrients so we can’t say that there’s one single benefit from seeds. However, all contain fats and omegas that are important for brain health.

“​​Sunflower seeds are a great seed to use for spreads,” says Chatterton. “This is because they are packed full of nutrients, including magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, copper, zinc, iron, folate as well as essential fast and vitamins A, B and E. They also are a good source of protein. All of that helps sunflower seeds lower blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as being heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory.

“Pumpkin seeds are also teeming with health benefits. They are a brilliant source of omega-3, are packed full of protein with high numbers of antioxidants and are rich in magnesium and zinc.”

Seed spreads are going to be popular in 2023

One benefit to eating spreads over whole seeds is that they are a condensed way to get more goodness. You might find it easier to eat 30g of seeds when spread on toast than when eaten in a handful as a snack, for instance. 

In fact, a 2022 report from Advances In Nutrition reported that seeds are “overlooked in nutrition analyses” because “whereas nuts can be eaten alone as snacks”, seeds are often ingredients in breads or cereals rather than standalone foods. That can mean we don’t eat enough of them, so spreads could be a versatile way of getting seeds in cooking – you can stir them into sauces or stews for a subtle nutty flavour.

They’re also more environmentally friendly than nuts. While vegetarian options are better than meat when it comes to environmental impact, a study found that pumpkins, squash, and watermelons require roughly 20 to 90 times less water to grow than tree nuts (excluding rainwater) – and you can eat the vegetable alongside the seeds.

How to make seed spread

The great news is that seed spread is really easy to make at home. Chatterton says it’s a three step process:

  1. Roast your seeds — pour them onto an oven tray and pop them into the oven at 180°C. Alternatively, you can toast them in a dry pan (don’t add oil) until they start to turn brown. This step enhances the flavour and helps the seeds to start to release some of their natural oils
  2. Put the seeds into a food processor and blend when they are cool. They will take a while to come together into a paste and require some stirring but shouldn’t require additional water or oil. 
  3. For additional flavour, add a spoonful of manuka honey, cacao nibs, salt or chilli to taste. 

The best seed spreads to buy

Rather yours ready made? Here are some of the best:

  • Biona Pumpkin Seed Butter

    Biona Pumpkin Seed Butter

    Buy now

  • KoRo Sunflower Seed Butter

    KoRo Sunflower Seed Butter

    Buy now

  • Naturya Hempesto

    Naturya Hempesto

    Buy now

  • Meridian Tahini

    Meridian Light Tahini

    Buy now

  • Raw Health Organic Super Seed Spread

    Raw Health Super Seed Spread

    Buy now

Images: Getty; courtesy of brands

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