A couple weeks ago, the grocery store nearest our house was giving away samples of a school-safe peanut butter alternative, one based on soy.
(Before anyone gets on my case about how insensitive I am to allergies/how I’m coddling all those weaklings with allergies, STOP. This post is purely about the food. My personal feelings on the matter* were left out of this investigation entirely. It’s about the food, folks.)
Now, I admit that I was originally suspicious. These types of substitutions tend not to be all that successful: I like soy fine, but I like it when it’s not pretending to be something else. (Tangent: Same deal with veggie burgers. I like the ones that are basically veggies and grains squished into a patty; the ones that try to emulate meat texture, not so much.) Anyway, in spite of my misgivings, because I have a morbid sense of curiosity, I picked up a couple packets.
Getting home, I announced the product to The Boy, who wanted nothing to do with the stuff. It was a couple days before I mustered up the gumption to try them myself, but muster I did, and so it was that I set up The Showdown.
I had originally considered running this test by spreading the two challengers on pieces of toast, but the flavour of bread — especially toasted bread — can really change the overall taste of the bread+spread, I think, so I went with the purest snack I could think of: celery sticks and peanut butter (or alternative).
Decision made, I scooped up. Here are the contestants:
At the top is the soy butter — a smoother product out of the package than the peanut butter and a slightly lighter colour. Good sheen (sheen = oil!) and a promising texture from the get-go.
So… how was it? I will say that the texture is pretty good. It’s a lot grittier than peanut butter though, and (for this particular brand anyway) much much sweeter. They added way too much sugar in my opinion, especially for a snack they’re targeting to school children. (Don’t kids have enough sugary crap to eat without adding sugar to peanut butter too?!)
The taste actually most reminded me of the dehydrated peas sometimes found in Japanese snack foods (like wasabi peas, but without the wasabi). It wasn’t bad, per se, but it wasn’t all that great either.
I definitely prefer the peanut butter: richer flavour, no grittiness, and a creaminess (presumably from all the oil) that wasn’t matched in the soy. Too gritty, too sweet, and too lentil-tasting to be a viable substitute for me.
I also think, given the slightly scary ingredient list (especially since you can buy peanut butters with an ingredient list of “Peanuts”) that I’d definitely just choose a peanut-free recipe rather than use this as a substitution if preparing food for a peanut-free zone.
I suppose all this means I’m giving the Soy Butter a thumbs down. Well, so be it. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good enough either.
* Dude, peanut butter is a great, only mildly-processed source of protein and fats needed by growing children. It’s cheap as all get-out and very convenient. If you or your spawn can’t handle it, get thee (or them) into a bubble and leave the rest of us, and our delicious, peanut-y snacks, alone.
Just kidding. I love the little bubblekids. We can handle keeping one ingredient out of schools for the sake of our future.
Or can we?