Did you know that November is National Peanut Butter Lover's Month? Well now you do!
Peanut butter often gets a bad rap for being high is fat, but it's actually incredibly good for you! Peanut butter is high in monounsaturated fats, the kind of fats that are GOOD for your heart. Several studies suggest that a diet high in monounsaturated fats, like those provided by peanuts and peanut butter, may decrease cardiovascular disease by up to 21%!
Peanuts are also a great source of vitamin E, niacin, folate, protein, manganese, and several antioxidants. All of these combined, make peanut butter a great snack that can not only improve heart health, but reduce your risk for a stroke or colon cancer, prevent gallstones, protect against age-related cognitive decline (such as Alzheimers) and even potentially aid in weight loss! So what are you waiting for? Get snackin' ;)
Peanut Butter Snacks
- "Ants on a Log"
- Spread on an apple
- Add to a smoothie
- On top of pancakes, toast, oatmeal
- Peanut butter and banana sandwiches
- No-bake granola bars, like these
Choosing the Right Peanut Butter
It should be noted however that not all peanut butter is created equal! Most commercial brands have added sugars and oils in their peanut butter. While this isn't inherently bad, it's certainly not necessary either! The same goes for "low fat" peanut butter; it's often full of other fillers and not any better for you than the regular stuff. Remember, the fat in peanut butter is good for you!
So what should you look for? When choosing a healthy peanut butter, look at the ingredients. There should only be ONE (or two) ingredients: roasted peanuts. That's it! You can also choose varieties with added salt if you prefer, but there shouldn't be oils or added sugar.
Another option is to get the peanut butter you can grind in-store, or my personal favorite, make some yourself!
The Easiest Homemade Peanut Butter Recipe
2 cups (16 ounces) raw, shelled peanuts
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Roast the peanuts (optional): Heat the oven to 350°F and toast the peanuts on a baking sheet until lightly golden and glossy with oil, about 10 minutes. You can skip this step if you prefer raw nut butter or if you're using pre-toasted nuts.
- Pulse the peanuts until ground: Transfer the peanuts to a food processor or blender. If you toasted your nuts, do this while the nuts are still warm. Pulse a few times just until chopped.
→ For chunky peanut butter, remove 1/2 cup of chopped nuts and set aside.
- Process for 1 minute: Run the food processor or blender continuously for 1 minute. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. At this point, the peanut butter will look gritty and dry, almost like couscous.
- Process for 1 minute: Run the food processor or blender continuously for another minute, then stop and scrape down the sides. At this point, the butter will start clumping together. It's not quite peanut butter, but it's getting there!
- Process for 1 minute: Run the food processor or blender continuously for another minute, then stop and scrape down the sides. At this point, the butter will be glossy and soft, like very thick peanut butter.
- Process for 1 to 2 additional minutes: Continue processing the butter until it becomes completely smooth. Homemade peanut butter will still be a little more gritty than Skippy peanut butter, but should be spreadable at this point. Taste and add salt or other add-ins to taste. If you reserved some nuts for chunky peanut butter add them now and pulse a few times to incorporate.
Other Nut Butters
Of course, not everyone can have peanut butter, but there's no need to fret! Other nuts and nut butters are incredibly healthy as well. Almond butter, cashew butter, walnut butter, even sun flower butter for those who can't have nuts at all, are all great alternatives to peanut butter. It may not be as big of a selection, but most supermarkets will carry at least some of these nut butters, so keep your eyes Peel'd ;) When in doubt, you can always make some at home! The process is very similar to the recipe above, just with different nuts. So get out there and explore the wide variety of nuts and seeds available! And don't be afraid of healthy fats, your heart will thank you <3