Maybe you’re bored of always using butter, mayonnaise or margarine on your toast, and are looking for more options and healthier ones at that. You’ve scanned articles on Google for hours and scrolled through the endless slides of Pinterest. Yet you’re still as clueless as you were before the search.
Do not worry, because this guide will provide you with simple and healthy food spreads that can be eaten in breakfast or incorporated into appetizers.
What are Food Spreads?
Spreads are foods eaten with other foods – basically bread and crackers – that require the use of a knife to be applied on the surfaces of these foods. Examples of these are your jam, peanut butter, butter, cheese, etc. These spreads enhance the taste and flavor of a food.
The most common spreads are those made from fruits. They are relatively healthy, but the commercially made ones are mostly sugary and while we discuss spreads, we want to stick to healthy options.
Classification of Food Spreads
There’s an endless list of spreads in the culinary world but they can be briefly grouped into 4 classes. This makes it easier for choosing easy and readymade spreads if you’re looking to broaden your library of these.
1. Dairy Spreads
These are the most common, and are available in supermarkets and food stores. These spreads are made from mostly cow’s milk and are processed using different methods and temperatures to yield the desired products. They include cheese, cream and butter.
2. Plant-derived Spreads
They are the second most popular class of spreads often eaten in sandwiches. They are basically made from fruits and vegetables. Because plant-based foods are generally low in fats and contain appreciable amounts of fiber, they are undoubtedly the most healthy when choosing low fat and moderately proteinous spreads.
They are also easy to make at home because of the ability of some kitchen appliances like the food processor to do the job. Examples of these include strawberry jam, peanut butter, hazelnut butter, etc,. Basically any fruit you can think of can be made into spreads.
3. Yeast spreads
Yeast, an important fungi in the ecosystem can also be used as a spread. This may come as a surprise to you but it’s more of a vegan option. So if you’re looking to begin veganism, this could be a good choice to start with when having a toast. Yeast spreads do have a sharp salty taste and are made from the heating and disruption of yeast cells. The process is called autolysis reaction because the yeast’s digestive enzymes – lyases – attack its cellular wall components while retaining the cell’s integrity.
Further extraction and purification process involves separating the cell fraction through a centrifuge to remove the cell membrane. A centrifuge uses the principles of the centripetal and centrifugal forces to cause denser materials in a centrifuge tube, settle at the bottom while less dense materials remain suspended. Examples of some popular brand name yeast spreads include Vegemite, Marmite, Cenovois and Promite.
4. Meat based Spreads
This class does not conventionally fit into the real sense of spreads but are regarded so, because of their property of being able to improve the taste of foods. They are generally referred to as pate. Pate is a pureed or chopped meat like beef, fish or liver seasoned with herbs or wine like cognac. It could be eaten with bread or eaten whole as a dish in some European countries like France, Belgium, Germany, etc.
Pates are best eaten with less seasoned foods. The combination brings about a whole new level of flavor on the taste buds, building a balance between the spiciness of the meat and the mild flavor of the flour-based foods. Examples include liver pate, pheasant pate, chopped liver, etc.
Now that you’re a little familiar with the various spreads that are available out there at your disposal. You should consider taking time to know which is best. As you wouldn’t want to go around eating stuff without knowing their nutritional values to your body.
The Five Wonder Spreads
This Middle Eastern originated dish has now become popularized with some slight alterations in its recipe in different parts of the world. Hummus is basically made from chickpeas (primary ingredient), tahinis, garlic and with some lemon juice. If you’re looking to try something new, hummus, also used as a dip, is my number one on the list. It brings a different vibe to your snack by simultaneously giving it a nutty-tangy taste.
I’m pretty sure you’re curious about the kind of foods it can be eaten with. An example of such food is wedged shape pita bread. But for a healthier option, it’s best served with veggies like cucumber slices and carrot spears. As this will bring an added advantage of accessing more nutrients which wouldn’t have been the case if it were served with bread or crackers.
Make at home: blend some chickpeas, tahini and garlic with a splash of some lemon juice in a food processor. You can sprinkle some olive oil while blending to add some “silkiness” to your spread.
Believe me, you don’t want to miss having this on your toast. As one of the most popular fruits used as a spread in sandwiches, avocado gives a “greeny-creamy” taste to your snack. The presence of “good fats” – monounsaturated fatty acids – and fiber, makes avocado a good choice because of the feeling of satiety (the fiber) it gives for longer periods of time.
An avocado weighs 100g, contains 14.7g of fats and 6.1g of fiber. Therefore, it’s only ideal that you use one-third of it while making your spread due to its high fat content. I’d recommend making mashed avocado with sardines because apart from the fiber, omega-3 fatty acids in fish and fish oils helps in maintaining blood cholesterol levels, hence preventing heart disease.
Make at home: in a kitchen bowl, use a fork to mash an avocado and a piece of the sardines, while adding 1 tablespoon of the sardine oil. Sprinkle some black peppers for some fiery flavor. Split the mixture into halves, one to be eaten and the other for later.
3. Greek yogurt
My go-to yogurt any day is the delicious Greek yogurt. You can ditch that mayo for a spread of this on your toast. Greek yogurt is absent in whey which contains lactose – sugar present in milk. Having 2 tablespoons of this is preferably a healthier option as opposed to mayo which is more of fats. This yogurt spread has an added importance of promoting gut health because it contains probiotics.
Make at home: open a store bought Greek yogurt and scoop up 2 tablespoons of it to spread on your toast. Add some chopped berries like strawberry for some added taste. Easy peasy!
4. Nut butter
I’m sure you must have been thinking if this will ever be added to the list. Nuts are my favorite fruits to snack on, especially peanuts. So it wouldn’t be a surprise that I would add it to my list of “resources” for making spreads. All you need to achieve this, is to buy a nut-butter from a supermarket, in my case, peanut butter. But make sure it is naturally made and has labeled on it, “roasted peanuts and sea salt.” This should single it out from the others that have multiple ingredients.
Make at home: take 2 tablespoons of your nut-butter and gently spread evenly on your toast. If you prefer making yours, measure 2 cups of fresh peanuts into your food processor, add a pinch of salt to taste.
Berries like raspberry, strawberry, blueberry and blackberry are examples of fruits with low sugar and moderate fiber content. Hence, they are good choices to snack on. These fruits are the main ingredients used in jam, but they are sweetened with high amounts of sugar and combined with some preservatives, making it relatively unsafe for consumption.
A cup of these berries is said to contain about 7g of sugar compared to a medium sized banana that contains 14.4g. This is twice the sugar content of these berries. Using 10 smashed raspberries as a spread will only add 10 calories to your meal which is ideal for a quick healthy breakfast.
Make at home: smash 10 raspberries in a bowl with a fork till it’s almost a paste, depending on the desired thickness. Serve on toast then drizzle some honey for some sweetness.
The knowledge of good nutrition in our daily diet is a must because most diseases occur either from nutrient deficiency or nutrient excess. While tracking food can be a bit strenuous for some of us with 9-5 jobs, the need for easy-to-prepare healthy foods is the goal. Hence, the invention of food spreads from nutrient-rich foods to be eaten with snacks is apparently a huge leap for you on a weight loss journey or for simply maintaining weight and promoting good eating habits. Also, from the accounts given on the sources for making your own spreads, you should take into consideration portion control. With this in mind, having a snack made with any of the spreads listed above for breakfast or in lunch breaks at work, will undoubtedly improve your health indices when incorporated with exercises.
- “Why is avocado good for you?”. www.medicalnewstoday.com. Retrieved 20 February 2023.
- “The 10 Healthiest Low Sugar Fruits You Should Be Eating”. www.goodhousekeeping.com. Retrieved 20 February 2023.
- “7 Better For You Sandwich Spreads”. www.patriciabannan.com. Retrieved 20 February 2023.
- “How Much Sugar Is in a Banana and Is It Bad for You?”www.beachbodyondemand.com. Retrieved 20 February 2023.