Feeding Nut Butter to a Child with Diabetes: Justin’s vs Artisana


When our six-year-old daughter, Bisi, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes this summer, we entered a world where nut butter suddenly became our ideal snack. (Of course, there were a lot of other new features of this world, but they’re beyond the scope of this review.) Nut butter is low-carb, relatively high in protein, and filling. It also taste good without added sugar, which is important for everyone, but especially someone with diabetes. Peanut butter sandwiches on low-carb, gluten free bread, with no-sugar-added apple butter, have become a staple for Bisi since her diagnosis. She also invented a snack that all of us like: peanut butter sandwiched between cucumber slices.

But when the two of us set out to review a bunch of nut butter samples from the companies Artisana and Justin’s, I realized that my love for nut butter—and for the idea of it as the perfect snack for Bisi—exceeds her willingness to eat it. In general, Artisana butters are pure and unadulterated: raw, organic, with no salt or sugar added. Justin’s are a little more corrupt—though much healthier than some of their competition. Their delicious chocolate hazelnut butter has a third the sugar of Nutella, and to me tastes better—like a real food rather than just a vehicle for sugar and chocolate. Most of Justin’s products have roasted nuts, with a little bit of salt and sugar added for flavoring.  In other words, Justin’s products tend to feel a bit less healthy–and a bit more desserty–than Artisana’s. All of our testing was done with the small packets–each a little more than thirty grams, or two tablespoons—which are great for snacks when you’re out skiing, biking, or doing something else active where your child (diabetic or not) may urgently need a snack.

Here are our results:

Artisana Cocao BlissArtisana Cacoa Bliss. 8 carbs. Ingredients: raw coconut butter, Extra Virgin coconut oil, agave syrup, cacao, cacao butter

Bisi: Bleh—I don’t like it.

Katie: I think this may be an acquired taste—it’s not a usual taste for a child. I liked it better each bite I took. It tastes quite strongly of coconut, which may be what Bisi is reacting to.

Artisana Raw Almond Butter. 6 carbs. Ingredients: just almonds.

Bisi: I like it: it tastes just like almonds and I like almonds. (Note that she asked for a bit of honey to sweeten it. -KB)

Katie: It really does taste like straight almonds—tastes completely unadulterated.

Artisana Raw Pecan Butter. 5 carbs. Ingredients: raw pecans and cashews.

Bisi: I think it’s pretty good, but I still think it could use a bit of honey.

Katie: I think this one is delicious—it has a softer, less harsh taste than the almond butter.

Artisana Cashew Butter; 8 carbs. Ingredients: just cashews.

Bisi: It’s in the middle. It has a weird taste.

Katie: It tastes a bit like sweetened sawdust

Artisana Walnut Butter: 4 carbs. Ingredients: walnuts and cashews.

Bisi: it’s in the middle. I don’t think it’s that good. When it gets in your mouth it kind of burns the back of your throat.

Katie: It has a very bitter aftertaste, like the most bitter part of walnuts.

Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut PackJustin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter. 12 carbs.  Ingredients: dry roasted hazelnuts, dry roasted almonds, evaporated cane sugar, cocoa, cocoa butter, palm fruit oil, natural vanilla, sea salt.

Bisi: Best butter ever! I like how it tastes like Nutella.

Katie: I love it too. It’s less sweet and sinful than Nutella, which in my book makes it taste even better.

Justins Maple Nut Butter: 8 carbs. Ingredients: dry roasted almonds, maple sugar, palm fruit oil, sea salt.

Bisi: I think it’s really good. It feels good, and I like that it has a little sweetening in it.

Katie: This is practically my favorite food right now—just the right balance of sweet, nutty, and salty.


I ordered a whole box of Justin’s Maple Nut Butter for Bisi to snack on,  but the truth is, I have eaten most of them. She very happily will eat Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter as a treat (or as a filling, more sustaining way to give her blood sugar a little boost than skittles or juice). As mentioned,  she’s happy to have peanut butter sandwiches, and I’m sure I could substitute any of these nut butters, except perhaps the cashew and walnut butters. But we are not yet at the point—in terms of Bisi’s liking for sugar or her tolerance for unadulterated nuts–where I can mix a little unsweetened almond or pecan butter into some unsweetened yogurt and call it a day. I hope some day we’ll get there.

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8 years ago

as someone who’s had type-1 since 1978, i can empathize with your frustrations. but i would also like to add a few suggestions to help you out… 1) add sugar-free honey to those nut butters that are not “sweet” enough for your daughter. 2) use either Polaner All-Fruit or Smucker’s sugar-free jellies on her peanut butter sandwiches, which add all kinds of sweetness 3) and if you’re really adventurous, get some PB2. they have recipes, nutrition information and while you can order large amounts from them directly, i’ve heard from friends that it is available in the grocery store: http://www.bellplantation.com/nutrition… Read more »

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