Peanut Butter: The Poor Man’s Protein
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:
· 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!