I have a thing for peanut butter; always have, always will. There is something so delicious, rich, and satisfying about it. Whatever way you cut it, slice it, spread it, peanut butter is my thing.
Unless it’s part of a recipe, I’m pretty much a peanut butter purist. I have never mixed it with jelly or made a sandwich out of it. Shocking, I know I’m probably the only American not to have tried a PB&J. What can I say; I was a difficult eater growing up (sorry Mom and Dad).
My absolute favorite way to eat peanut butter is with a spoon in one hand and the jar in the other. It doesn’t get any easier, but be careful with this method. It’s possible to get carried away (who, me?).
Since we are talking peanut butter (or I am anyway), let’s clear up some common misconceptions. Yes, peanut butter is high in calories and high in fat. This is true of almost all nuts, so you need to be mindful when you eat them. Have a spoonful or a handful, but not the whole jar or bag. Moderation is key.
Here’s the fun part. The majority of peanut butter is made up of good fats. Yes, there are good fats, and we can and should eat them in moderation, but that’s a much longer post for a different day. 80% of peanut butter is made from unsaturated fat; the same type of fat found in olive oil. Peanut butter also provides some good stuff: fiber, protein, calcium, and iron. So, peanut butter (barring nut allergies) has a place in any healthy diet (and in my heart ♥).
The most important part to indulging in peanut butter is finding a clean brand which doesn’t come with a slew of chemicals, preservatives, or partially hydrogenated oils. Dun, dun, dun.
“Why are partially hydrogenated oils bad?” you ask.
For starters, it’s a mouthful to say. But more importantly, it’s used by food companies because its cheap (no surprise there), it’s has an ability to improve stability and texture, and can provide a longer shelf life. Also, partially hydrogenating the oil increases bad trans and saturated fats and lowers the amount of good fats. Many of the essential fatty acids (i.e. good fats), antioxidants, and other positive components of the oil are lost through this process. Basically, these folks are stripping peanut butter of its nutritional value and giving it a bad rap. Bastards!
Personally, I don’t believe it’s great we found a way to make food last for years on a shelf. If it lasts that long, what the hell is it doing inside our bodies? Does it hang out there too? Heck, let’s invite the fast food boys and throw a party in our intestines. Or are we just making our bodies work overtime to digest it? When really they should be focusing on other things like building our immune systems, cleansing, circulating blood and a whole bunch of other really critical stuff our body does on a daily basis. I promise, it’s got more important work to do than digest our bad food choices.
Here’s another way to look at it. If someone dumps a huge project on you at work, how well do you maintain the day-to-day things? Do they slide a little or do you have to work overtime just to keep up, essentially burning yourself out. Our bodies are no different, and when we ingest real food and only food, we are letting them operate at their prime, which in turn makes us feel better and healthier. Eat Well + Feel Well = Live Well (staring to sound familiar).
Ok, back to the peanut butter. When I first started shopping at Nature’s Bin, a local health food store, I noticed right away the peanut butter was different. They didn’t carry Peter Pan or Jiff or the other brands I’ve come to know and love. I may not be a mother, but even I know “Choosy moms choose Jiff” (I’ve been brain washed). I stared at the rows and rows of unfamiliar peanut butter brands, and didn’t know what to do, so I panicked and left the store peanut butterless (a very sad day indeed). Instead, I picked up my PB at Target, where the brands were still recognizable. I know, scandalous, but my road to clean eating wasn’t an overnight thing. It has taken months, and I’m still a work in progress, so bear with me.
Gradually, I worked up the courage to try the peanut butter sold at Nature’s Bin. Immediately, I encountered my biggest fear: the whole oil separation and stirring it vigorously thing. I know you’ve heard of it. You’re not alone because it really freaked me out, and you needed an industrial strength mixer to combine it well enough.
Of course, this was before I embarked on Tank Top Arms, so maybe I could handle it now. We tried brand after brand, and each time the Hubby said “No, let’s just get it at Target.” But, I stayed firm (not because I’m stubborn, mind you) and we kept trying different kinds, and one day, finally, we were rewarded with this.
MaraNatha No Stir Peanut Butter. It’s not as salty or sugary as my old brands (pair of evil crones), but after gradually changing my food choices, I’ve come to no longer really crave overtly salty or sweet (unless it’s from fruit – all bets are off when it comes to fruit). Long story short, both the Hubby and I give this brand our seal of approval, with two snaps and some glitter. Or the snaps and glitter might be just me, but whatever. Our only problem with peanut butter now is keeping it in stock. Not only do we use it in so many recipes: Energy Bites, Peanut Butter Chocolate Pudding,Granola, but I still enjoy eating it straight up with a spoon.