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The Five Best Eco-Spreads

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Spreads have come a long way from the days of instant-soup packets mixed with sour cream. Animate your Ak-Mak with these eco-friendly slathers. 

Black Bean Hummus

The Sweet and Spicy Black Bean Hummus from EAT WELL ENJOY LIFE is a low-fat pate made with corn, pineapple, red peppers, pecans, chipotle chilies, and a medley of spices, all without GMOs. Michelle Dudash, a Cordon Bleu-certified chef and registered dietician who wrote Clean Eating for Busy Families, loves this particular flavor and admires the brand for its unique taste combinations and eco-values: The PET plastic packaging is easily recyclable, and the paperless company recycles all of its waste. About $5 for 10 ounces

Justin's Nut ButterJUSTIN'S Honey Almond Butter, creamy and sweet, goes perfectly on everything from rice cakes to bananas, says Amie Valpone, a Manhattan nutritionist who runs the Healthy Apple blog. To give the butter texture, she sometimes sprinkles it with ground flaxseed. The spread is high in protein, comes in a recycled-plastic, BPA-free jar, and doesn't have genetically modified anything -- the only ingredients are California-grown almonds, sugar, honey, sea salt, and palm oil, which the company sources from a sustainable farm. Justin's uses mostly organic ingredients. About $9 for 16 ounces
Organic Sesame Butter

The Premium Organic Sesame Butter from GOLDEN MILLSTONE is made from just a single rare ingredient: sesame seeds harvested by small organic farms in Ethiopia, slow-roasted at temperatures low enough to qualify them as a raw food, then ground on a 90-year-old millstone. The nutty, nutritious spread is packed with those fatty acids that are hard for vegetarians to get, plus protein and antioxidants. Use the sesame butter right out of the glass jar as you would peanut butter, or mix it into dips, smoothies, or salad dressings. $8 for 14 ounces 


Creamy Melt OrganicFor those seeking an alternative to butter or margarine, Rich and Creamy Melt Organic from PROSPERITY ORGANIC FOODS is a find. All of its ingredients -- including virgin coconut oil, sustainably harvested palm-fruit oil, and high-oleic sunflower oil, plus a touch of real butter -- are organic, fair trade, and non-GMO. The healthy-fat, clean-tasting schmear has a lush flavor with the faintest hint of coconut. Spread it on bread, dollop it on potatoes, or use it to grease pans -- then recycle the container. About $4 for 13 ounces
Carrot Cashew Miso Spread

Terry Walters is a James Beard nominee whose latest cookbook is Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source. She shared her recipe for Carrot Cashew Miso Spread, which is good on sourdough, on crackers, and in a sandwich. Here's how to make 11/2 cups of it: Peel 2 large carrots and chop them into 1/2-inch pieces. Put them in a pot with 3/4 cup of raw cashews and 1 cup of vegetable stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Scoop out the carrots and cashews and put them in a food processor. Put 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid in a separate bowl and dissolve 2 tablespoons of light miso into it. Add the miso broth to the carrot-cashew mixture and process until smooth. Top with sesame seeds and serve, or put it in the fridge, where it'll keep for up to 4 days.

--Avital Andrews


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This article originally appeared in Sierra magazine.