Inspiration and support to live your healthiest life.
I'm a peanut butter addict, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. This month—being "National Peanut Month"—seems a good time to confess my love for peanuts and peanut butter. I'm not sure if it's genetic or not, but my granddad, dad, sister and brother share my fondness for all things peanutty.
Decades before anyone ever heard of making peanut butter–flavored ice creams, my dad would end his day by eating a bowl of vanilla ice cream topped with a spoonful of peanut butter. While others thought this looked gross, I quickly became a fan.
My dad's dad taught us to love a mixture of peanut butter, butter and honey spread on toast or, even better, on homemade biscuits. For lunch, I favored the classic Southern treat of peanut butter and banana sandwich (I always preferred bananas to jelly), not to mention favorite snacks like peanut butter on Ritz or Saltine crackers, peanut butter and raisins on celery (ants on a log) and peanut butter on apple slices.
Later in life, I came to know and love peanut sauces on Thai food, and I discovered a new lunch favorite for my kids: a peanut butter and strawberry wrap. Because I like to start my day with a little protein, I sometimes spread peanut butter on waffles, crepes or pancakes, instead of using butter and syrup.
Last but not least, you will almost always find a big container of assorted nuts on my counter, including the lowly, but delicious, peanut (which is a really legume or ground nut, rather than a tree nut—but they're all good).
So, it's out in the open … I clearly have a problem. Or do I?
If so, I'm not alone. Americans eat an average of more than six pounds annually. (I'm sure I eat enough to make up for several Americans with peanut allergies.)
Maybe we're on to something. Peanuts, like all nuts, can be part of a healthy diet and may even help with weight management because of their nutritional density. They may also help reduce your risk of certain cancers. Peanuts and peanut butter contain lots of protein, fiber, mostly healthy fats and more than 30 essential vitamins and nutrients. They provide significant amounts of vitamins, including niacin, folate, panothenic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, choline, vitamin E and vitamin B6. You'll also get plenty of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese and selenium.
Unfortunately, peanuts are calorie-dense, as well as nutrient-dense, so it's best to limit nuts and nut spreads to a reasonable serving. A small handful of nuts is usually ample. Peanut butter often has added sugars, so it's even more important to watch serving size. An average serving of peanut butter is 2 tablespoons, which has about 188 calories. Moderation is key. To satisfy my daily craving, I often eat a graham cracker after lunch spread with a tablespoon or less of peanut butter.
How about you? Do you love the lowly peanut? How do you like to eat it and how do you keep from consuming too much?