When it comes to using peanut butter, sandwiches are just the beginning.
Many of us grew up on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and continue to love peanut butter as adults.
Although peanut butter is a high-calorie and high fat food, it’s also been found to have many health benefits and is generally recommended as part of a nutritious diet. Peanuts contain mono-unsaturated fat (the heart-healthy kind), as well as Vitamin E, niacin, folate and fiber.
Studies have shown that eating nuts regularly and moderately helps against heart disease, and — here’s the good news — weight gain. So, there’s no need to feel guilty about spreading peanut butter on your morning toast.
Picking Peanut Butter
Peanut butter fans are typically divided when it comes to the issue of choosing between the crunchy or the smooth variety. Startcooking.com will remain neutral in this heated debate. But the Skippy website tells us that creamy peanut butter is more popular than chunky, and that children and women tend to go for creamy while men like crunchy. (Who knew?) Skippy also reports that East Coasters are more into smooth, and West Coasters go for crunchy. Smooth peanut butter is more often called for in recipes, so perhaps it’s a good idea to keep both kinds on hand.
The healthiest choice in peanut butters is the kind labeled “natural”. These typically don’t contain the hydrogenated oil that most major brands use to stop the peanut butter from separating. Natural peanut butters typically have a layer of oil on top, and have to be stirred before each use. They’re also kept in the refrigerator so that they don’t spoil. They may or may not contain sugar, so take a look at the labels before buying. Some grocery stores or health food stores have a nut-grinding machine that will churn out whatever amount of natural peanut butter you need.
By the way, reduced-fat peanut butters have the same number of calories as regular — there’s less fat, but more sugar and typically more hydrogenated oil than regular kinds.
Anyone looking for an alternative to peanut butter can try a different kind of nut butter, like almond, cashew, hazelnut or pecan. For those in need of a nut-free substitute for peanut butter, there’s Peabutter, made from golden brown peas.
How to Use Peanut Butter
We all know ways to incorporate peanut butter into breakfast and dessert, but it also has a place in savory main dishes. Here are some ways to use peanut butter:
1. Add a spoonful to your morning smoothie for added protein.
2. Peanut butter gets all warm and gooey when spread on something toasted or warm. Try it not just on toast, but on wraps (rolled and warmed up), crumpets (it oozes into all the little holes), English muffins and pancakes.
Apple and peanut butter makes a great, healthy snack.
3. Combine it with fruit: Peanut butter pairs well with apples, pears and is heavenly with bananas.
4. Rather than the same-old PB&J sandwiches, try peanut butter and fruit sushi. Apartment Therapy helps us out with a great photo-tutorial on these inspired sandwiches, which call for dried coconut and raisins.
5. Although the classic sandwich combination is peanut butter and grape jelly, there are many other peanut butter partners: honey, marshmallow fluff, Nutella, raisins, bacon, banana, pickles (event if you’re not pregnant), applesauce or apple butter, potato chips.
6. Peanut butter and vegetables. Carrot and celery sticks sure taste better when they’re dipped in peanut butter! There’s a snack called Ants on a Log: you put peanut butter in a stick of celery and then stick some raisins on top.
7. If you like Asian food, you’ve probably enjoyed peanut sauce. There are many variations on this delicious sauce, which can also be used as a dip or dressing, but here’s a basic one.
It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t love peanut butter cookies.
10. Here’s a great idea for a S’mores-like treat that you can make indoors. Pioneer Woman gives a great tutorial (photo below) exlpaining how to make Marguerites: Crackers with peanut butter and a marshmallow on the top, then put under the broiler.
Marguerites are a simple, easy dessert. Photo courtesy of The Pioneer Woman.
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