You can never have enough nut butter. With that being said, there can never be enough nut butter companies. Enter Life of Riley Foods. They are a small-batch producer of paleo-certified, non-GMO, soy-dairy-grain-gluten-free nut butters and only use small amounts of natural sweeteners such as raw honey or maple sugar, if at all. Based in Boulder, Colorado, Life of Riley Foods was started by Abby, a mother and Crossfitter who wanted better fuel for herself and her family. My Friday was made great when I received a box full of each of their products: Cashew Butter, Almond Butter, Unsweetened Almond Butter, Walnut Butter, and Sunberry Butter. The first thought I had was, "Oh darn, I guess I need to start testing RIGHT NOW."
I'll be the first to admit that I'm addicted to cashews in any form: whole or of the butter variety. Or in this case, a bit between the two. This is a crunchy recipe that initially caught me by surprise when I read the ingredient label because in addition to it already using my favorite nuts as the base, the Life of Riley creators decided to amplify it even more with a sweet mixture of nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cinnamon, and a touch of raw honey. I ate more of this in one sitting than I'm comfortably willing to admit.
Rating: 10 out of 10
Ingredients: Roasted organic cashews, almond oil, saigon cinnamon, Indonesian cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, mace, all spice and cloves, raw & unfiltered local honey, organic sea salt.
Seeing as I've never had crunchy almond butter before, I was happy to see that this recipe is also the signature texture of Life of Riley Foods in that it comes out creamy, but has just enough pieces of the nut in there to have a special crack to it. There is barely any added maple sugar in this, as is evidenced by how much you can taste the original almond flavor. The ratio of sweet-to-salty was interesting to me and something I had yet to encounter in a nut butter. It almost reminded me of salted caramel, but in a subtle way that doesn't leave your stomach turning later while you pick candy bits out of your retainer (pause for flashbacks to middle school). If you want to shake up your almond butter options, you won't find another like this one!
Rating: 8 out of 10
Ingredients: Roasted almonds, pure maple sugar, almond oil, organic almond extract, organic sea salt.
I have no idea how the consistency of this was created. It's a unique mix of nut butter and jam. On top of that, the sunflower seeds aren't beaten to a cream, so it's crunchy. However it's done, this is the most different nut butter/jam/whatever you want to call it that I've ever seen or tested. The natural sugars in the fruit are so strong that no other sweeteners are needed, plus the addition of sea salt works to compliment and bring out the flavor of the sunflower seeds. This is clearly a very well-thought-out recipe and I greatly enjoyed it.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Ingredients: Roasted organic sunflower seeds, organic sunflower oil, dried unsweetened organic tart cherries, dried strawberries (apple juice concentrate, sunflower oil), dried blueberries (apple juice concentrate, sunflower oil), organic sea salt.
I don't know what it is about walnut butter specifically, but I just can't get around the overall bitterness of walnuts. I like them just fine by themselves, but it almost feels like the bitter tones in them are brought out more when you grind them up. I don't know, I could definitely be crazy. But this wasn't my favorite.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Ingredients: Organic walnuts, walnut oil, pure maple sugar, organic sea salt.
Unsweetened Almond Butter
It's often easy to overlook the "simple" recipes that a company has to offer. In all honesty, I have never really been a fan of plain almond butter. I go for the ones with a flavor or, like in the case of Trader Joe's almond butter, recipes that are mixed with another nut (TJ's adds some cashews). This is the first recipe of plain almond butter that I've truly enjoyed. And I loved it. Maybe it's the addition of flaxseed, but something about this stuff was absolutely delicious.
Rating: 10 out of 10
Ingredients: Organic roasted almonds, almond oil, organic flaxseed, organic sea salt.
You can check out Life of Riley Foods and all of their products by clicking here.