Peanut Butter: The Poor Man’s Protein

by Linsey Knerl on 11 December 2007 39 comments

Peanut butter is a staple food of many households. The rich and the poor alike find it to be filling and delicious. Eating the right variety of peanut butter can also have a positive effect on your health, while reducing stress on your grocery bill!

 

A True Health Nut - The Peanut Institute reports that the peanut contains more plant protein than any other legume or nut – almost 8 grams per serving! This is especially valuable information for those that have a hard time getting an adequate amount of protein in their diets, either due to a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle or a financial situation that makes purchasing quality meats a hardship.

 

Peanut butter naturally contains no cholesterol, and one ounce (that’s a small handful) contains 2 grams of fiber. That’s almost 10% of your daily needs! This same small amount will provide 16% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin E – the same antioxidant that has been shown to reduce your chance of heart disease.

 

Cheap Eats - Dollar for dollar, peanut butter truly is affordable. Even the most expensive all-natural organic varieties are cheaper per serving than most cuts of meat. This is one of the reasons that most subsidized food programs strongly support peanut butter as a staple for the average diet. Peanut butter also has a very long shelf-life (usually 6-9 months unopened.) This makes it a great food for storing in case of emergencies.

 

The Best Butter - The best peanut butter varieties are those that contain no added sugars, preservatives, and trans fat. Read labels carefully to be sure you are buying peanuts, not garbage. If you aren’t able to get to a health-food store for some freshly ground peanut butter, you can easily make it yourself at home, following these instructions:

For smooth peanut butter:

· Mix 1 ½ c. peanuts with 1 tbsp. peanut oil, and pour the mixture into a food processor.

· Process the mixture until it's very smooth.

· Store your smooth peanut butter in a sealed container in the fridge. It will be good for 2 weeks.

For chunky peanut butter:

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

· Take about 1/4 cup out of your 1 1/2 cups of peanuts and set them aside.

· Mix the rest of the peanuts with the oil, and pour the mixture into the food processor.

· Process the mixture until it's very smooth, then stir in the peanuts that you had set aside.

· Process a few seconds more to create the chunks in your chunky peanut butter.

· Store your chunky peanut butter in a sealed container in the fridge. It will be good for 2 weeks.

 

Using peanut butter in your meal plans can be a little tricky in the beginning. Finding a good recipe resource, such as Peanut Butter Lovers.com, can make it easier. In addition to the traditional recipes of Peanut Butter Cookies and Peanut Butter Fudge, you can also find main dishes such as Southern Peanut Butter Soup with Pepper Jelly and Peanutty Chicken Piccata. There are even a few yummy meatless dishes, such as Whole Wheat Pasta with Cucumber and Spicy Peanut Sauce!

How do you eat your peanut butter? I personally make a mean Peanut Butter Chicken. I find that adding peanut butter to our diet is a great way to get the kids to eat better, and it’s cheap, too!

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Guest's picture
Guest

It is a myth that vegans and vegetarians have a hard time getting adequate protein. Plant foods are, in fact, loaded with protein--a cup of black beans has 15 grams protein (and about the same number of calories as a serving of peanut butter, incidentally); heck, protein makes up a third of the calories in broccoli! Even the USDA says adults need only 0.8 grams protein per kilogram of body weight, or about 55 grams for a 150-pound adult. It is not difficult to meet this requirement without eating meat.

Guest's picture
TV Girl

My favorite way to eat peanut butter is with fruit. Blend a spoonful into a smoothie. Dip apple or pear slices in it. Slice a banana in half the long way, put some peanut butter in the middle, and close it back up to create a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Yum!

Guest's picture
dawn

I've gotta second you on the peanut butter and banana sandwiches...
My hubby can't live with out them. They are his out-the-door-late-for-work favorite breakfast choice.
I personally love apple slices with my peanut butter.

Linsey Knerl's picture

Thanks for clearing that up!  I guess that is just one of many popular misconceptions.  As a parent, I am always hearing how hard it may be to be sure that your child gets enough protein on a vegan/vegetarian diet.  Alot of this is coming from articles and a few physicians.  It's good to hear that it's not as challenging as I thought.

Also, I LOVE black beans!  So now I can rest easy if I skip the regular meal my family is having in favor of a nice black bean soup or a salad with black beans. 

Thanks for the comments! 

Guest's picture
Mary

As a lazy, cheap college student, I fondly remember one evening a few months ago where for dinner I had peanut butter on a spoon and a coors light. Not a meal I'd necessarily recommend, but a good "I did it once" thing, and that's what college is for, right? : D

Guest's picture
Barbara

You can't go wrong with that one. Celery, peanut butter and golden raisins. Good stuff.

Guest's picture
Kelja

You might think me weird - my 8yr old daughter does - but I can't stand the stuff. Must be the texture because I like peanuts. But can't eat peanut butter or even smell it. That's too bad because it's such a convenient food!

As to the Vegan diet people - we humans are carnivores. Top of the entire freaking food chain of meat eaters. Don't know if you noticed but our eyes face forward, a trait shared by most carnivores. Also we have these funny teeth called canine teeth, good for ripping & tearing meat. Without protein from meat, mankind would've never left the stone age. The human brain needs large quantities of protein to operate properly.

Just nature at work.

Guest's picture
Guest

So know what else is awesome about being human? The ability to make choices, and the ability to make the choices for us that work for us.

One does not need meat in this day and age to survive, regardless of past history. It can now be a choice.

If you would like to point to past history to guide all our current choices I would suggest that you look back to the way women were treated in the stone age. Is that nature at work as well?

Guest's picture
ryan

Actually we are omnivores. We eat both plants and animals. By the way, our brains were already fairly large by the stone age. Probably about the same size they are now. But anyway re check the evidence, because i do not think your right.

Guest's picture
Charise

I love peanut butter! I always buy organic peanut butter since peanuts are typically grown in rotation with cotton which is heavily sprayed.

One of my favorite ways to eat PB & banana is on a whole wheat tortilla. It's very portable and you don't even have to cut up the banana.

On another note, Humans are omnivores not carnivores. Plus, our brains need carbohydrates to function as well as protein. Just a thought, but since we are "highest" on the food chain isn't it okay to eat in an enlightened fashion and eat the way our values lead us? Especially since we can have a varied fully nutritious diet with or without meat. In fact, quite a few of the diseases that afflict modern society are caused by over consumption of meat. I'm not vegan, but I eat very little meat and I believe we should not be judgmental towards other peoples lifestyles (or eating habits.)

So, um, peanut butter, Yummy!

Guest's picture
Naomi

You can make peanut butter without the peanut oil too if you don't have it. Just put your peanuts in alone with a little salt in the processor and viola! Takes a little longer, but still turns out great.

Guest's picture
Rob in Madrid

"The best peanut butter varieties are those that contain no added sugars"

I have to admit that my favourite peanut butter is skippy, second ingrediant sugar, third transfat laden oils!

Myscha Theriault's picture

You caught me! I'm the queen of having a spoonful for lunch, and we LOVE peanut butter and banana / skim milk smoothies. Another favorite? Grilled peanut butter and jelly (do it like a grilled cheese).

Years ago on Guam, one of the teachers used to bring a great vegetable noodle salad with linguini. The sauce / dressing was a peanut butter sauce, but I have no idea how she made it.

Great piece!

Guest's picture
Terri

I also am an apple slice peanut butter dipper. It is my favorite way to eat peanut butter. If you have a Winco near you, most have a little machine that will grind fresh peanut butter fresh for you. It usually is in the bulk foods section.

Guest's picture
Alexander

I too fall into the desperate college student category. While I know how to cook and even enjoy doing so, I'm still wrestling with balancing a busy schedule and preparing a hot meal.

For a long time I felt guilty about spending $7 per jar of peanut butter when the cheap stuff goes for significantly less. But I've found a brand I like and nothing less will do. Although it's not organic, peanuts and salt are the only ingredients. I can't stomach the hydrogenated stuff unless I'm really hungry.

But recently I discovered that peanut butter and wheat bread combine to form a complete protein. I'm not a vegetarian and I love meat, but I don't eat it much for convenience, health, and environmental reasons. So now I don't feel badly about spending a lot on a staple food. Even at the rate I eat it, a jar lasts about two weeks.

Plus I can reuse the jars to store other staples like coffee, dried beans, nuts, rice, flour, and sugar. Not getting my CRV back from a recycling center is much cheaper than buying glass or ceramic storage containers for $5 a piece.

Recipe I learned in India: peanut butter and jelly on chapathi instead of bread.

Linsey Knerl's picture

You had me at "Skippy"....

 

(I admit that the best FOR you peanut butters aren't my first temptation.  I also adore skippy.. but I'm trying to inspire others to eat a little better than I would prefer too... I'm a peanut butter hypocrite, I guess!)

I'm so pleased with all the great peanut butter ideas!  My son (he's four) likes to peel a carrot, break it up into little pieces with his chubby fingers, and then slather a bunch of creamy peanut butter on a piece of bread.  Then he folds it all up into an amazing peanut-butter-carrot sandwich.  (I must have done something right...) 

Guest's picture
Dana

My lunch most days consists of peanut butter slathered on celery sticks. Usually 2 of these keeps me full for about 4-5 hours! Also, I love to add a couple spoonfulls to vanilla ice cream. I have never checked my peanut butters ingredients though....I will have to do that!

Guest's picture
K

Just about anything with PB will do it for me but my faves are:

- a cold noodle salad similar to your link above but made with dark sesame oil, sesame seeds, soy sauce, hot pepper flakes, tad of sugar, pb, etc...but no cukes...serve chilled.

- rice krispie treats made with peanut butter

- peanut butter on waffles or pancakes (instead of reg butter) with syrup.

Guest's picture
kim

We are so deathly allergic to this stuff. Have you ever taken a good look at the huge amount of foods that contain nuts, peanuts and peanutbuter? It's so prevelent it's scary and we have to consistently read evry ingredient. If my kids go to grandma's they have to open new butter and jelly jars because lots of people dont use a clean knife when they switch from the pb to the j. we'll take meat and soy thank you.

Guest's picture
Laurel

Yeah, the old PB in the Jelly thing...we have trouble with GLUTEN in everything!! In our house, when we first had to go gluten free, we bought new condiments because everyone DOES just stick the knife in the PB & slap it on the bread...and then back into the PB for a touch more of the yummy stuff--thus contaminating the whole jar! To say nothing of the butter, jelly, mayo, mustard, relish....you get the point! (No, those don't ALL go on PB sandwiches...but all are touched by gluten!)

Our daughter's school is a peanut free zone. I respect that since we have to do gluten free here. I just wish more people were aware of how BAD gluten is to those who have celiac disease too. They may not need an epi-pen, but constant exposure to gluten can cause life-threatening auto-immune diseases. :o( For heaven's sake, PLAY-DOH has gluten, papier mache has gluten, some ketchup has gluten, envelopes have gluten where you lick to stick....Peanuts & other nuts are definitely easier to avoid than gluten!!! I'd take that over celiac disease any day.

PB on gluten free rice crackers rocks! As does PB on GOOD vanilla ice cream! :o) I used to do the PB on a spoon thing...but that was long ago, when weight didn't matter, when I was on a swim team & swam 4 miles/day, 6 days/week!!

Myscha Theriault's picture

I think I just got inspired to be original here. I've had a hard time finding oyster sauce here for lo mein and have been trying different things to "sauce" the dish. I'm thinking  a peanut sauce might be just thing. Has anyone tried it this way?

Linsey Knerl's picture

Peanut sauce on lo mein is heavenly...  :)

Guest's picture
DivaJean

My sister and I loved our peanut butter sandwiches with Cheez Whiz ( so much for healthy eating!) It takes like those cheese cracker and peanut butter snacky things.

Mmmm.... whizzer sandwiches!

Myscha Theriault's picture

Good to know. Thanks, Linsey. I've got a pack of noodles here that I may need to try it with in the very near future, then.

Guest's picture
Kelja

I wasn't aware women were mistreated during the Stone Age. I mean, the stone age was prehistory, right? So no one knows (unless we study Fred, Wilma, Barney & Betty).

Choices are good and I never meant to infer you weren't, or I wasn't, able to make them. What irks me, however, are the Vegans (and I haven't seen this here) who take a holier-than-thou attitude when it comes to meat eaters. My point was that our body has evolved to process meat and humans have always eaten meat. Although, probably not in the prodigious amounts modern man eats!

I think to be a vegetarian, you must invest time in learning about nutrition, especially the importance of protein in diet. I have personally known some vegetarians that we're particularly up on their nutrition knowledge and they looked very unhealthy.

If you are a Vegan, especially a healthy and fit one, all power to you.

Guest's picture
Lynn tTruong

GRILLED pb&j??? I'm going to try that right NOW

Myscha Theriault's picture

Linsey, you were SO right. The peanut sauce on the lo mein was ta die for. I used the spicy one you linked to above with the whole wheat pasta and cucumber. It was thin, but that's what I was going for. I think it would also be a great Asian salad dressing. Now I just need to find a slightly thicker one for satay so we can have an Asian style BBQ when the grill and other furniture arrives.

Lynn, on the PB & J being grilled. It REALLY is yummy. The peanut butter melts a bit and the outside is all toasted. Definitely a breakfast sandwich on the cheap. Or, for a hot lunch without meat or dairy. How did you make out with it. Well, got to run.

 

Guest's picture
Guest

I love how Kelja just starts going on about holier-than-thou vegans when one person had mentioned it in regards to being worried about her children getting adequate protein, without advocating it to anyone else.

Guess there's no such thing as holier-than-thou carnivores, huh?

Linsey Knerl's picture

As you can see from the picture of my son eating his PB, I should be so lucky if jelly was the only weird thing in my PB.  I'm not surprised that I may find sand in there!

Guest's picture
Guest

Peanut butter and bacon sandwiches were a childhood favorite. Now that I'm a holier-than-thou vegetarian I have switched to peanut butter and Morningstar Farms bacon-like meat substitute (tastes exactly like bacon - provided that you haven't tasted real bacon in 14 years!)

Guest's picture

I had this a "gourmet burger" restaurant in New Orleans once - peanet butter on a burger sprinkled with bleu cheese. Good stuff.

Linsey Knerl's picture

Peanut butter and bleu cheese... Might be good.  I was scared to try a reuben sandwich for years, so I guess I should give it a try!

Guest's picture
Guest

Peanut butter and honey spread on bread is simply heaven. The honey takes away the 'claggy' feel of the peanut butter too. It works just as well with golden syrup but would, I assume be less healthy.

Guest's picture
milly4554

I just love this sauce ....

Crunchy Peanut butter, plain yogurt and crystal HOT Sauce ...

just play around till you get the consistency & heat you like.

I really love stonyfield farms plain yogurt for this recipe...

is just so creamy and delicious

Guest's picture
milly4554

I forgot to add ...

heat the peanut butter first in the microwave ...

also: can add coconut cream ...

canned red curry paste ....

IS Incredible with Noodles or Pasta ...

Throw in some veggies and Presto a great meal

Guest's picture
Cornivore

After watching Fast Food Nation I decided I could no longer enjoy cow meat on my plate and decided to become a vegetarian. All the mumbo-jumbo about eating just the right combination of proteins kept me from doing it many years ago when I was first interested for environmental reasons.

I must say that it was an easy change. I have not missed meat at all...I no longer eat chicken and pig meat either. What I have noticed is that I now much more enjoy and savor the "side dishes" which are now my "main event". The meat always used to take center stage and the accompanying carbs and vegetables were not as noticeable in flavor.

Also, I have lost weight without even trying. I still eat some sweets, but have lost much of my desire for those, so going vegetarian appears to be a win-win situation for me. I highly recommend it! If you lean toward it, watching Fast Food Nation will help you take the step :)!

Last, but not least, going vegetarian saves money and helps fight global warming. Take a look at this funny Dutch campaign. It's self-explanatory. Just choose your favorite kind of meat and see what happens :)

http://www.nationalecarnivorenenquete.nl/

Guest's picture
Guest

Hah, enjoy aflatoxin. I know the liver certainly enjoys it. Despite that, peanut butter is over hyped for many believe it has "good fats" because saturated fat has wrongfully been demonized. You wouldn't believe how many skin conditions clear up once one severaly reduces the amount of polyunsatured fat in the diet.

Guest's picture

I didn't realize making peanut could be that easy. Thats awesome. Peanut butter on celery is probably the best thing about this world. And i will look up some good peanut butter chicken recipes. That sounds very interesting! Thanks for the ideas!