Betsy Opyt, owner of Betsy’s Best seed and nut butters, prepares a gingerbread smoothie.
Friends in college used to call her “Betsy Crocker.”
Betsy Opyt, a registered dietitian who now lives in North Naples, has always experimented in the kitchen, creating healthy recipes for friends and family.
Three years ago, her creations turned into a business.
Now, Betsy’s Best gourmet nut and seed butters, which are non-GMO and gluten- and palm oil-free, are sold in more than 2,100 stores across 39 states, and online at Amazon.com. In Naples, shoppers can find Betsy’s Best at Whole Foods, Oakes Farms Market, Neighborhood Organics and Wynn’s, and in Bonita Springs at DeRomo’s.
And around the holidays, Opyt says her products can be a handy tool to eating healthy.
Opyt, a fitness trainer and former Florida Young Mother of the Year, started making her own peanut butter seven years ago — grinding the nuts by hand — when her daughter was about to start preschool.
“I tried to make a sandwich for her and she refused to eat it because she hated the peanut butter,” Opyt recalled. “So I said, you know what, I have a Vitamix and I’m crafty and I’ll just throw some unique ingredients with some spices and flavor that I think she’ll like.”
She created a recipe with cinnamon, honey, pink Himalayan salt and chia seeds, which is now the key ingredient in each of her four butters. Everyone loved her peanut butter. She shared jars with family and friends, including one of her clients, a retired New York City businessman.
“After a year of eating it he was like, ‘Betsy, do you want to go into the peanut butter business?’ “
So every Friday Opyt found friends and family to help her grind the nuts, and on Saturday they sold jars of it at the Shoppes of Vanderbilt farmers market in North Naples. She sold 200 jars in four hours.
Knowing she had a product people would buy, Opyt made pitches to national grocery stores, and Whole Foods was the first to carry Betsy’s Best.
“There was a lot of passion and a lot of thought and integrity behind the brand, but the main message I want to get across is healthy eating can be fun and delicious. You don’t have to compromise taste for health.”
She spent about a year developing each of the four flavors. After the peanut butter, Opyt launched the almond butter flavor, which is also blended with cinnamon spice. It’s now the best-seller.
Next, she released a sunflower seed butter.
“A lot of schools are allergen-free and they can’t even bring a nut butter, so I wanted parents to have an option, so this one is blended with sunflower seeds,” she said.
The fourth butter is a savory one — cashew cardamom. It’s so versatile, Opyt said, that it can go in a marinade for steak or chicken, in a smoothie, in cookies, or as dip for fruit or vegetables.
And in 2018, Opyt will release a toasted coconut butter.
Opyt hopes her products will inspire customers to create new, healthy recipes in the kitchen. About 80 recipes — even one for dogs — are listed on her website, betsysbest.com, and she recently released a holiday cookbook, including recipes for a white bean turkey chili with cashew cardamom and candy cane cookie dough balls. The cookbook comes free with any Betsy’s Best purchase on Amazon.com.
It’s always a challenge to stay healthy during the holidays, so Opyt suggests setting yourself up with a plan.
“If you know you’re going to a holiday event, don’t go hungry. Have a healthy snack before you, or set a goal in your mind.”
Portion control is key, she said. Instead of having an entire slice of cheesecake, take only one bite.
And a spoonful of one her butters also helps satisfy the sweet (or savory) tooth.
“It’s an indulgence,” Opyt said, “but it’s a healthy indulgence, so you feel good about eating something that tastes so good.”
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