“If someone tells you that you are putting too much peanut butter on your bread, stop talking to them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life”... (:
Today’s flavor comes straight from my sourdough sprouted seed and rye toast. Peanut Butter is a fiesta of flavors and mouthfeels; creamy, crunchy, salty, sweet, even umami if the peanuts are roasted first. This particular peanut butter is made from organic roasted peanuts. It’s crunchy with a touch of sea salt. There was a time when I dare say peanut butter was a staple ingredient in many homes across the globe. However, in recent years, especially in the health food world, the poor peanut has become very much maligned. In some ways, the bad reputation has been incurred not through any fault of the poor little peanut rather through growing, producing and ‘manufacturing’ in ways that are unhealthy.
By itself, the peanut is actually a good resource for nutritional health. They are a great source of protein and fiber, as well as other phytonutrients like, biotin, manganese and copper. They are also packed with antioxidants; in fact, the peanut skin rivals grapes for their resveratrol content and even beats the carrot, beet, and apple when it comes to antioxidant content. What’s more? When you roast them, it increases the bio-availability of these antioxidants by 22%. Bio-availability means amount that your body can assimilate. Sometimes nutrients are in a certain food but we can’t actually digest and assimilate it, which makes it less beneficial; not so with the peanut, especially once roasted. I put peanut butter in yogurt and eat it on apples. Of course, there is always peanut butter fudge (raw is delicious) and peanut butter cookies and the amazing peanut butter sandwich. Peanut soup is beyond delicious and adding a handful of peanuts to stir fry can really bump it up a notch.
So, why the bad reputation? Well, by itself the peanut is great. However, whether or not it will be healthy or harmful all depends on how it is grown and produced. Unfortunately, quite often in the U.S. peanuts are swapped with tobacco crops to improve soil health. The problem with that? There is no real regulation on what pesticides, herbicides and other toxins can be used on the tobacco since it is not technically a food. So while the peanuts are ‘cleaning’ and nourishing the soil they are soaking up and suffering the consequences of the soil toxins from the previous tobacco harvest. Yuck. Buying organic peanuts can eliminate that issue. The second challenge for peanuts? They can easily develop a mold in the aflatoxin family that can cause some issues. Aflatoxins are super high carcinogen and can wreak havoc on the respiratory and nervous system in high enough amounts. That being said, the USDA heavily regulates peanuts produced in the U.S. to protect against aflatoxic contamination. Downside? Most of the world’s peanuts are produced in China where the regulations are much looser. Other issues with peanuts? Of course, there is also the peanut allergy, which is indeed a problem, so please avoid them if you’re allergic. Then there is the next issue of processing. For whatever reason, (I’m guessing to get more bang for your buck) many manufacturers started adding extra ingredients like hydrogenated oils, fats and sugars to their peanut butter and it’s incredibly challenging to get just plain old roasted peanut butter without any other additives. Even peanuts in a jar for just eating as a snack are roasted in oil or other flavorings that are better left unconsumed. If you’ve been innocently buying peanut butter, even organic, without reading the label, I highly recommend you get out your magnifying glass and read the fine print ingredients. Chances are there are things in there you would rather not be eating.
The bottom line is; if you want all the good stuff that peanuts and peanut butter can add to your life then go the minimalist route and buy organic, peanut only, peanuts and butter. Your body and belly will be happier for it.
Peanut Butter Fudge
- 1 c. organic peanut butter (creamy or crunchy will work)
- 1/4 c. coconut oil, melted
- 2 TBS raw honey (you can also use a few dates or date sugar instead, this will also make them thicker)
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Combine all ingredients in food processor. Pour mixture into a lightly oiled 5" x 7" pan. Cover and freeze until set, approximately 1 hour. Cut into 24 1-inch squares and store in an airtight container in the freezer. (try it with some whortleberry jam)