Better Butter (dairy-free), other Spreads and Butter-Options for Baking

Makes 1½ cups
(Vegan; no gluten, dairy or soy)

Even when the many options to butter substantially and tastily suffice, there will still be times when butter remains your preferred partner. Perhaps it and no other serves for the rich drip off corn on the cob, or a melting slather on just baked bread. If your lips cry, “Yes, yes”, but your hips, arteries or allergies say, “No, no”, then this is the recipe for you.

If you need to cut down on dairy or saturated fat then aim to change four out of five butter-based habits into some of the yummy options below. For your remaining “This must have butter” choice, use Better Butter. It looks and tastes, spreads, bakes and cooks similar to butter, but its all-plant nutritional profile is far superior to butter – and especially to its evil twin: margarine and similar table spreads (yes, even so-called heart-healthy ones too).

Most supermarket oils (unless labeled cold pressed, or extra virgin) have been extracted by an elaborate industrial process involving high heat, chemical solvents, bleaches and deodorisers. This damages fats and those who eat them.

Even worse is a further stage called ‘hydrogenation’, which adds extra hydrogen to the product to increase its shelf life, or to firm it for butter-like baking properties. This high-tech process involves lengthy high heat – increasing destructive oxidation, free radicals and trans fatty acids – and metal catalysts such as aluminium, linked to brain and nervous system disorders. Oils that are partially hydrogenated are still liquid but further preserved. When fully hydrogenated, oils become solid and are used to produce margarine and a wide range of commercial muffins, cakes, pastry, museli bars, snack foods, confectionary, packet soup, sauce and drink mixes.

In contrast, Better Butter is a simple combination of olive oil and palm fruit oil* (also called palm fat or palm shortening). For this tropical seed fat from the palm tree to be top quality it must be simply extracted, non-hydrogenated, and from a sustainable source. The fat content of Better Butter is mostly monounsaturated, with its polyunsaturated content bringing the total to 70% unsaturated fat. The palm oil’s saturated fat is primarily a type called palmitic acid. This is a medium chain fatty acid that is easier for the body to burn as energy, and does not raise cholesterol – unlike the short chain fatty acids found in high fat dairy. Another option is to use cold-pressed coconut oil. This will have a stronger flavour though.

Palm oil or fat is unusually high in tocopherols and tocotrienols, which are components of vitamin E. These decrease circulating cholesterol and inhibit the liver from synthesising even more. The high antioxidant content also means that palm fat can be heated up to 180°C (360°F) with little damage, though with all fats it is best to keep temperatures as low as possible.

Regulating the quality and proportion of fats in the diet is especially important for two body types: the Sensualist and the Driver (see The Shape Diet); for inhibiting breast and prostate abnormal cell growth and cancer; and for preventing and treating most forms of cardiovascular disease (see the GOOD HEALTH SOLUTIONS’ report The Heart of the Matter: Significant Strategies For Preventing – and Treating – Heart, Arterial, Stroke and Other Cardiovascular Damage). For even more flavour and health benefits try the version with garlic (antioxidant, antibacterial, lowers cholesterol) and parsley (high in calcium and other nerve, muscle, heart and artery relaxing minerals).

For research information and a list of references see The United Nations University Press Food & Nutrition Bulletin, volume 15, June 1994.

200 ml (3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp) extra virgin olive oil*
100 g (1/2 cup) organic, non-hydrogenated palm oil/fat/shortening*, or cold-pressed coconut oil
1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley (optional)
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped (optional)
½ – 1 tsp sea salt with kelp* to taste

If you are using parsley make sure it is as dry as possible (liquids can encourage bacterial growth and limit storage time). To be easily mixed the palm fat must be soft. Measure and place it in a small 350-500 ml (1½ – 2 cups) glass jar suitable for storage. Place the jar in a small saucepan filled with hot water. When the fat is soft enough to stir with a fork or small whisk, add in the other ingredients. Stir well. Place in the refrigerator 30 minutes or more until firm before using. If the mixture was very runny before chilling, some ingredients may have settled to the bottom. Simply re-mix with a fork. Keeps chilled for 2 weeks or more – or freeze. Use on bread and vegetables, for frying, in pastry etc in the same quantity as any butter that is called for.

* Chantal brand is distributed to health stores. Comes in a 500 gram white, oblong margarine-style container, usually in the chiller section. Some stores package their own in plastic bags.

* If you prefer a less ‘olive’ taste use 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 Ceres Organic Roasting & Frying Oil. Some olive oil is best to achieve a yellow, butter-like colour. Or use any mild cold-pressed oil and add 1/4 teaspoon turmeric for a yellow colour.

Dairy-free and gluten-free; with cane sugar options.

Use these to replace butter, margarine and other toppings on bread, crackers, pasta, baked potato, and steamed vegetables. Whenever ‘oil’ is mentioned use one that is cold-pressed or extra virgin and thus not hydrogenated, heat and chemical damaged. Store all oils in a dark cool place or refrigerate. Use within 6 months.

· Avocado (plain or mix with red onion, garlic, fresh coriander, or anchovies).

· Peanut butter.

· Chilled satay sauce and other thick sauces and creamy dressings (see The Shape Diet for Sambelan, Tahini Dressing, Green Herb Dressing).

· Nut butters/seed butters such as almond, hazelnut, macadamia, brazil, cashew, sunflower (available from health stores and some supermarkets).

· Tahini (sesame seed paste; from supermarkets).

· Olive Spread (vegetarian olive paste, similar to tapenade, usually labelled as Greek or Italian from supermarkets).

· Mustard (creamy and whole seed varieties with many optional herb flavours; many contain cane sugar – Crystal brand does not).

· Mustard Butter (in a glass jar stir together 4 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp creamy mustard, 2 tsp chopped parsley, 1 chopped small garlic clove, ¼ tsp sea salt; cover and chill until firm, then stir to evenly mix).

· Miso (salty, vegemite-like Japanese fermented soybean paste).

· Mayonnaise or Aioli (plain or mixed with fresh herbs, mustard, tahini or wasabi; many contain cane sugar and soy).

· Pate (see Lover’s Pate recipe in The Shape Diet – most commercial brands have dairy products and artificial additives).

· Hummus (check for dairy and cane sugar content).

· Chilli-style baked beans, mashed (usually contains cane sugar).

· Tinned sardines mashed, or mixed with vegetable mash (carrot, kumara or pumpkin), or relish or chutney (contains cane sugar), or tomato-based pasta sauce.

· Dynamite – very popular and like a cross between peanut butter and vegemite; high in B vitamins, chromium and other key minerals, protein, and is low GI (see recipe in The Shape Diet). In contrast, marmite and similar products have gluten, sugar, caramel colouring, preservatives and highly refined salt.

· Basil or Coriander Pesto (see this website) and other pestos (most commercial ones contain dairy).

· Soy Cream Cheese by Kingland (supermarkets and health stores).

· ‘Jam’ made from 1 or more dried fruits (eg chop apricots, prunes or figs and place in a glass jar; mix with hot water to cover, optional cinnamon and grated gingerroot; soak for 1 hour or overnight until soft and rehydrated; puree in blender; cover and chill).

· For more spreads (Tofummus, Tex-Mex, Greek Island, Salmon & Red Pepper and others) see Recipes For A Long & Delicious Life.


For pastry use an equivalent amount of plain Better Butter. When preparing cakes, muffins, slices and other baking use one of the following to replace ½ cup or 125 g butter:

· ½ cup coconut fat/oil, olive oil, peanut oil, almond oil, high-oleic sunflower oil;

· ½ cup coconut cream;

· ¼ cup oil or coconut cream + ¼ cup fruit puree (mashed banana, applesauce, pureed fresh or tinned stone fruit such as peach). Note that tomato puree or mashed cooked beetroot are excellent in chocolate cakes;

· ½ cup mayonnaise;

· ½ cup plain Better Butter.


Lita Watson

Someone said that butter and coconut oil can be used interchangeably, should i follow that way or can i combine butter with coconut oil when using these ingredients as replacements for palm shortening?

Maria Middlestead

Lita, there are differences to each. It depends on whether you are using coconut oil for pastry, cakes etc. Best to Google a specific recipe such as “pastry with coconut oil”.

Maria Middlestead

Patti, it is difficult to do from a Comment box. There is a place at the bottom of my emails for you to unsubscribe. I just tried that and it seems done. Good luck.

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