Featured food: peanut butter

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPeanut butter isn’t quite the perfect food.  If you tried to live on just peanut butter, you’d quickly be deficient in all the nutrients common to vegetables and fruits, such as vitamin C, A and folate, not to mention calcium and vitamin D.  But don’t let that stop you from enjoying it.

The Good News

  • High protein (1 tablespoon has 4 grams)
  • Fits all diet types: carnivore, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, Paleo, low carb, heart healthy, Mediterranean and on and on.
  • Healthy fats
  • Fiber
  • Nutrients like magnesium, vitamin E and potassium
  • Delicious
  • Convenient
  • Versatile: from sandwiches to a dip for veggies or fruit to spicy peanut sauces for rice or noodles

The Bad News

  • Delicious!  Easy to eat too much, leading to …..
  • High calorie.  One tablespoon has almost 100 calories.  Eating peanut butter by the spoonful out of the jar is just asking for trouble.
  • And unfortunately, for a lot of the peanut butter we consume, it’s gummed up with hydrogenated fats or (gah!) palm oil.
  • People with a peanut allergy can’t eat peanut butter.

Tips

  • Buy the ‘old fashioned’ variety if you can.  Stir the oil back into the peanut butter before using.
  • Keep it in the refrigerator if you don’t use it up quickly, to prevent rancidity.
  • If you’re trying to control calories, don’t just eat it out of the jar.  Too easy to overload on calories, since peanut butter isn’t very filling by itself.
  • For calorie awareness, measure out one tablespoon and spread it on bread or put it on a plate, so you can see what one tablespoon actually looks like.  Then portion according to your calorie goals.

Use peanut butter for:

  • sandwiches with jam or jelly or honey or sliced bananas.  For a different flavor spin, make your sandwich with sprouts, thin sliced cucumbers, grated carrots or finely minced sweet peppers.  For a really different idea, add some finely minced chili.  Use a tortilla or pita instead of bread for more variety.
  • as a dip for celery sticks, carrot sticks, apple or pear slices, jicama or sweet pepper slices.
  • on your toast, English muffin or bagel, for breakfast
  • in sauces like spicy Thai peanut sauce or Mexican-type molé.  These type of sauces go great with rice, noodles, cooked meats or vegetables, flat bread or tortillas.
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