Peanuts are high in protein and healthy fat. So this begs the question, is peanut butter healthy for your diet? This versatile nut is an excellent source of thiamin, niacin, potassium and magnesium and a good source of pantothenic acid, zinc and phosphorus. There's even a little bit of iron thrown in for good nutritional measure.
Fat in Peanuts
Yes, there is fat in peanuts. Eighty-five percent of peanut fat is unsaturated, with 60% of that monounsaturated and 30% polyunsaturated. Unsaturated fats, especially monounsaturated fats, are thought to help keep the heart healthy.
You could include peanut butter in baking, salad dressings and sauces, toss chopped peanuts into salads, soups, yogurt and desserts and use very small amounts of peanut oil for marinades and cooking. Get creative and make a gado-gado, an Indonesian vegetable dish flavored with peanuts, chili and garlic, or craft a satay sauce with peanut butter and hot peppers.
Low-Fat Peanut Butter
When purchasing peanut butter, resist the temptation to select lower-fat versions. Fat is lowered in peanut butter by replacing some of the natural peanut oil with flour, sugar or fillers, which still offer calories without the benefits of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.
Purchase Dry Roasted
When you purchase peanuts, look for dry-roasted peanuts. Peanuts have enough fat; you don't need roasted in oil. Oil-roasted peanuts are really a bit too indulgent. The extra oil adds more calories from fat, but not appreciable health benefits or extra flavor. Store dry-roasted peanuts in air-tight containers in a cool place. They should last for about six months. If you purchase peanuts in the shell, you can store them in the refrigerator, where they should last for about six months. Don't ever eat peanuts that are moldy, discolored or have an off flavor, as they could be contaminated with a peanut-loving fungus called aspergillus.
Peanut Butter Fudge Sauce
Makes about 1 cup
Dip banana slices, grapes, melon cubes or graham crackers in this sauce or serve over fruit salad or sorbet
- 1 cup chocolate or carob chips
- ¼ cup low- or non-fat dairy, soy or rice milk
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
Place ingredients in a small bowl that holds two cups. Microwave on medium for 2 to 4 minutes, or until chips just being to melt. Stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula (do not use metal) until well-blended. If you would like a thinner sauce, you can add more milk.
You can use other nut butters, such hazelnut, soy or cashew butter, to replace the peanut butter.
Pasta in Paradise
Colorful, with secret ingredients. Makes 2 servings
- 4 ounces uncooked vermicelli, rice noodles or spaghetti
- ¼ cup red or yellow bell pepper strips (about 1 medium pepper)
- 1 cup ripe, chopped tomatoes (about 1 medium tomato)
- ½ cup ripe, chopped mango (about 1 half mango or look for frozen cubes)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leafed parsley
- 2 teaspoons oil
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts
Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse, drain and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, combine pepper, tomatoes, mango, cilantro, oil, cinnamon and white pepper and toss to mix. Add pasta and toss to mix. Top with peanuts.