If made naturally with peanuts, salt and nothing else other than maybe natural additives for flavor then peanut butter is a great source of monounsaturated fat and protein. It boasts various vitamins and minerals and contains the antioxidant resveratol (that’s the one also found in red grapes, known for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and improving the flow of blood to the brain… you know, the one why we grownups drink red wine).
Unfortunately, not all peanut butter is created equal. Many of the brands marketed to children, such as JIF, Skippy or Peter Pan, are full of preservatives, added sugar and hydrogenated oils. These versions are far from what traditional peanut butter was made to be. They are loaded with extra fat and calories, which lead to high cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight gain. Even all-natural versions hide poor ingredients by stating, “contains 2% or less.” The natural and regular versions of Skippy and JIF show the same nutritional info and charge more for the label.
Read your labels! A good peanut butter contains 100% peanuts, salt and other natural additives such as honey, flaxseed and wheat germ. Popular family-brand peanut butters are filled with unnecessary preservatives. To avoid trans fats and hydrogenated oils, choose peanut butters with recognizable ingredients and try to buy organic when possible. Chemicals tend to concentrate in peanuts due to their soft shell and porous skin – the USDA Pesticide Data program found over eight different pesticides in peanut butter. In half of the peanut butter sampled in the US, detectable levels of insecticides were found, although the amounts found were below legal limits. Toxins have been linked to autism, childhood cancers and disruptive behavior in children. Your best choice is all-natural organic butters to keep harmful chemicals out of your child’s food. And have we mentioned yet to read the labels?
Think reduced fat versions spare you lots of calories? No, not so. Be a meticulous detective when it comes to labeling such as “low fat”, “reduced fat” or “fat free”. In order to remove fat, producers replace the void with something else, often sugar and carbohydrates. Effectively, the decrease in calories is small, usually no more than a total of ten. By buying the more pure, wholesome form you are choosing better peanut butter for your child’s health, while maintaining that delicious nutty taste.
While peanut butter is most popular as the “P” in a PB&J sandwich, it can add a little extra protein or creaminess to your dinner too!
Creative Ways to Use Peanut Butter for Dinner:
The 2 Ps in SUPPER are for peanut & protein. What, you didn’t know that?
- Smother peanut butter on chicken breasts and place them on the grill for a sweet nutty flavor
- Add peanut butter to noodles for a taste of Thailand
- Use peanut butter mixed with vegetable broth for the base of peanut or pumpkin soup
- Add a little peanut butter to your favorite Indian dish
- Use peanut butter as the base of dips and dressings for your favorite salad and veggies
- For a light dinner blend peanut butter with bananas and milk to create a power-packed smoothie.