I am obsessed with peanut butter. There, I said it. Seriously though, barely a day goes by when I don’t have peanut butter in some form. Lucky for me (and all you peanut butter lovers out there), peanut butter is a super nutritious food. Read on to learn the difference between natural and regular peanut butter, how to store it, how to use it, and how to make the best (and easiest) homemade peanut butter.
Natural vs. Regular Peanut Butter
Regular peanut butter typically has many ingredients including different types of sugar, oil, salt, and other additives. Compare this with natural nut butters, which are usually made without added sugar or hydrogenated oils. Hydrogenated oils and too much added sugar have both been linked to an increased risk of elevated cholesterol and heart disease.
All natural peanut butters aren’t created equal, so it’s important to always look at the nutrition label. Check the ingredient list and pick varieties that have just peanuts or peanuts and salt listed.
Storing Natural Peanut Butter
Since natural peanut butter is made without stabilizers or additives it’s normal to have some separation between the oil and solids in the jar. Don’t pour off the oil, as this is where the healthy fat is found. Instead, stir the oil back into the solids until it incorporates. To make this easier, store the unopened jar upside down for a day or two to help disperse some of the oil. While it’s safe to store natural peanut butter in your pantry, keep it in your fridge to for best texture, taste and nutritional value.
Peanut Butter Nutrition
We think of peanuts as part of the nut family, but they are technically legumes. As such, they have more protein than any of the tree nuts. One ounce of peanuts (28 nuts) has seven grams of protein, while two tablespoons of peanut butter has eight grams. Peanuts and peanut butter are a good source of folate and phytosterols, which help improve cholesterol levels and decrease risk of heart disease. Peanuts also provide healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats which can lower risk of high cholesterol, heart diseases and diabetes. Peanut butter can actually help weight control, despite being higher in fat and calories. The protein, fiber and fat in peanut butter slows digestion and keeps you full for hours. To keep calories to a reasonable amount, stick to one or two tablespoons of peanut butter per serving.
My Favorite Ways to Use Peanut Butter
- Peanut Butter Stuffed Dates – remove the pit from medjool dates and stuff them with a half-tablespoon of peanut butter
- Peanut Butter-Banana Oatmeal Smoothie
- Peanut Butter Grahams – spread peanut butter on graham crackers and top with sliced strawberries
- Peanut Butter & Banana Overnight Oats
- Peanut Butter-Apple Toast – spread peanut butter on a slice of whole grain bread, top with thinly sliced apples and sprinkle with chia or hemp seeds
- Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cups
- Peanut butter as a sauce thickener
Make Your Own Peanut Butter
Peanut butter may be easily found in every grocery store and market, but trust me – it’s worth it to make your own. While there is nothing better than the taste of freshly ground peanut butter, making your own lets you control the amount of sugar, salt and oil added. Making your own peanut butter is really simple: it requires just two ingredients and takes less than five minutes. Check out the simple recipe below. At first the mix will look crumbly and dry, but let the processor run a little longer and it will start to resemble actual peanut butter. Give it another minute longer, and it will become impossibly smooth and creamy. Once you try it, you’ll have a hard time going back to store-bought.
Homemade Peanut Butter Recipe
Ingredients (Makes about 1.5 cups)
- 2 cups shelled dry roasted peanuts
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Place peanuts and sea salt in a food processor.
- Process for four to five minutes, pausing every so often to scrape down the sides of the food processor.
- Process until it turns smooth and creamy (see below)
- For chunkier peanut butter, leave out ½ cup of peanuts and add them in at the end, pulsing once or twice to combine.
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