What do Madonna and peanut butter have in common? They have an uncanny way of reinventing themselves in creative and unusual ways. However, Madge’s decades of change can’t compete with this legendary legume’s transformations throughout the centuries.
The consumption of peanuts dates at least as far back as 950 B.C. Peanuts have even been found in the tombs of Peruvian mummies in South American tombs. Nonetheless, peanut butter is a relatively young food.
A History of Peanut Butter
Early history shows no trace of peanut butter sandwiches. According to PeanutButterLovers.com, “Africans ground peanuts into stews as early as the 15th century. The Chinese have crushed peanuts into creamy sauces for centuries and Civil War soldiers dined on ‘peanut porridge.’” Good to be living in modern times, since nothing is quite as tasty as a big PBJ sandwich and glass of milk.
In 1890, an enterprising yet unknown physician, Dr. John Kellogg, created peanut butter as a healthy protein substitute that was easy to digest by his patients who had lost their teeth. Dental care wasn’t so good back then, so it was normal for people to lose their choppers in their 30s or 40s. And yes, you are familiar with Kellogg, the famous name you know as a breakfast cereal maker. He apparently experimented by grinding peanuts in his hand-cranked meat grinder, which turned out a peanut paste for his orally challenged patients.
The manufacturing process was then mechanized by George A. Bayle, Jr., who began selling peanut butter for about 6 cents per pound. Finally, a patent for a peanut-butter machine was issued to Abrose W. Straub in 1903. The super sticky spread was first introduced to the masses at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 by C.H. Sumner. The rest is history, however, not all good or accurate.
Should You Eat It?
Peanut butter has been maligned as a cheap way to feed hungry kids. Even worse, too many people see it as chocked full of sugar, fat and everything else bad for you. Isn’t just the fat content alone enough to make peanut butter a no-no? Well, no no!
Dr. Walter C. Willett, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health states in a recent Harvard Heart Letter, “The small amount of saturated fat shouldn’t automatically kick peanut butter into the ‘unhealthy’ camp. Olive oil, wheat germ and even tofu – all considered to be ‘healthy’ foods – have some saturated fat. It’s the whole package of nutrients, not just one or two, that determines how good a particular food is for health.”
He’s right. Healthy eating is all about balance. Eating peanut butter in moderation has health benefits and tastes great, too. The combination of protein, fat and carbohydrates actually helps curb hunger pangs and that can keep you from overeating. In fact, one Purdue University study reported that subjects who ate peanuts every day did not overeat daily calories.
How often have you been hungry within 15 minutes of munching on veggies? That’s because veggies are almost all carbs and burn very quickly in the body. It doesn’t make them bad, but every food has strengths and weaknesses.
Sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD suggests dieters include peanut butter in their diets, guilt free! It’s satiating and satisfying, perfect for dieters. Because you will never win the war against hunger, your best bet is to eat foods that keep you feeling fed.
Choose peanut butter the way you would any other food item: carefully. Comparison shop and check the nutritional labels to get what you want. The cheaper brands tend to rely more on sugar and salt to make them taste better. If you are too lazy to stir, keep in mind the hydrogenated oils that were added to make your peanut butter of choice smooth, creamy and top oil free today could lend to a not so smooth future.
So now that you know it’s good stuff, how do you prepare it other than grabbing a spoon and loaf of white bread? Here are two recipes to try – one, a fiery international offering, and two, a tasty treat that would make Elvis proud.
Peanut Butter, a Healthy Fat?
One of peanut butter’s strengths is that it has a high level of monounsaturated fats. Foods containing these fats have been shown to:
- Reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, while possibly increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.
- Decrease breast cancer risk. A study of women in Sweden found that those with diets higher in monounsaturated fats (as opposed to polyunsaturated fats) resulted in less frequent incidence of breast cancer.
- Reduce belly fat. A study published by the American Diabetes Association found that diets with monounsaturated fat could improve the loss of belly fat better than high carbohydrate diets.
Spicy Peanut Chicken
By Gina Ostarly
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1½ tablespoons chopped garlic
- 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/3 cup smooth organic peanut butter
- 1½ teaspoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste (low sodium)
- 3 cups chopped plum tomato
- 2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
- 4 cups hot cooked brown rice
- ¾ cup non fat plain Greek yogurt (optional)
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and onion to pan. Simmer, stirring often, approximately 5 minutes or until tender. Add chicken to pan and cook until done, about 4 minutes. Stir in peanut butter and next five ingredients for about a minute until mixed. Add tomato and broth. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until it thickens. Serve over half a cup rice. Optional: top with a tablespoon of Greek yogurt.
Peanut Butter (Faux) Bread
By Caveman Keto
- 1 cup Peanut butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
- ½ Tablespoon Baking Soda
- ¼ Tablespoon Salt
Mix ingredients in mixer. Put in a standard greased bread pan, try to flatten it on the bottom for a consistent bread. It will look strange in the bread pan and very low. It doesn’t rise much. For larger slices you would need a narrower bread pan to get a different geometry. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Let it sit for a few minutes when done; then transfer to a wire rack. When cool, slice into 16 slices.
*This “faux” bread fits into popular low carb diets and makes a nice snack or accessory to any meal.
By Gina Ostarly