A month to celebrate one of my all time favorite foods!? That’s right, November is National Peanut Butter month! This has made me ecstatic and has simply given me another excuse to continue consuming mass amounts of peanut butter.
I adore peanut butter. After opening a jar, it’s almost guaranteed to be gone within the next 1-2 weeks (usually leaning on the side of one week). Never leave a banana and a jar of peanut butter near me, unless you’re willing to lose your banana. Banana with peanut butter is probably my favorite food combination. I’ve been eating this duo ever since I can remember, and it still hasn’t grown old.
The beautiful thing about peanut butter is that it can be paired with almost anything. While I’m often found eating it straight from the jar (or simply drizzled with a little honey for a nice dessert), it works great with everything from sweets, to veggies, to fruits, to grains, making it one of the most versatile foods out there. Let’s think of everything I’ve ever eaten peanut butter on….Bananas, apples, bread, rice cakes, celery, oatmeal, pears, crackers, chocolate, ice cream, pancakes, cookies…and this list excludes peanut sauce, which I’ve paired with everything from broccoli to tofu to rice and more. I could probably fill this entire post with things I have previously coupled with peanut butter, but for the sake of space and interest, I’ll cut it short.
Lucky for me, I chose a relatively healthy food to fall in love with. As a vegetarian, peanut butter is a great snack to help me pack a punch of protein into my diet. Per serving, it contains 8 grams of protein (about 14% of your daily needs depending on your size), and 3 grams of fiber (10% of your daily needs). Peanut butter also contains a substantial amount of potassium. Although this amount is not quite as high as in bananas, if you pair them together you’re body is guaranteed a nice dose of potassium. Peanut butter is relatively high in fat, however the good news is that this fat is primarily the healthy kind. Monounsaturated fat, the main kind of fat in peanut butter, has been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, thus improving cholesterol levels. Peanut butter also contains polyunsaturated fats, which help to raise HDL (good) cholesterol, making peanut butter highly beneficial in regulating cholesterol.
Studies have shown that nuts in general lower the risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease. While many people avoid nuts due to their high caloric content, they may actually help you lose weight. A study published in the journal Obesity showed that people who eat nuts at least twice a week are actually significantly less likely to gain weight than those who almost never eat nuts.
Unique to peanuts is a nutrient known as Resveratrol. When consumed, resveratrol acts as a natural antimicrobial and antifungal agent that wards off pathogens, such as bacteria, fungi, and virus-causing pathogens. Studies conducted on mice have show numerous benefits from consuming the nutrient that range from anti-cancer, antiviral, anti-aging, neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects.
To ensure you’re getting the most out of your peanut butter, stick to an all-natural brand. Look for jars containing simply peanuts and salt. This two ingredient combination is all you need to guarantee an outstanding taste. Unnatural peanut butter varieties contain a list of other unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients, such as hydrogenated oils (trans fat) and sugar. My favorite brand actually consists of just solely peanuts, and I add my own salt to it.
A key sign that you’ve chosen natural is that you will probably have to stir it. With no hydrogenated fats or artificial ingredients, the natural oil in the peanuts tends to separate from the ground peanut mixture. Note that this is natural, and simply takes a mere two minutes of arm oomph to return it to its naturally creamy state. If you’re making the switch from Jif (or Skippy or Peter Pan, or any other inferior PB) to natural PB, check out my top 3 favorite brands.
In order from my absolute favorite to relatively enjoyed brands:
- Crazy Richard’s: The star component of this peanut butter is its creaminess. I usually get the chunky, which consists of extremely creamy peanut butter combined with freshly chopped peanuts. The creamy is also delicious and truly lives up to its name in comparison to other brands. While it doesn’t contain any salt, it’s worth the extra effort of having to add your own. Before stirring, I add a teaspoon of salt to the jar, and then mix it all up. Mmm.
Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter: This is also a remarkably creamy peanut butter. The peanuts are dry roasted, giving it a roasted taste that differs from the brand above. However, it is almost equally as good. Plus, it already contains the salt.
- Smucker’s: With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good. This has a rich, peanutty taste. It’s not quite as creamy as the brands above, however you’re almost guaranteed to be able to find Smucker’s in any generic supermarket branch.
- Also, Whole Foods and a few other health food stores often have grind-your-own peanut butter stations that grind the peanuts right in front of you. I must say, this usually ensures an extra peanutty, fresh taste. However, always try to taste the peanuts beforehand to make sure that they haven’t gone stale.
Look for future posts with some of my favorite recipes containing peanut butter!
What’s your favorite way to enjoy peanut butter? What’s your favorite brand?