Ever since I can recall, I’ve always loved peanut butter.
As a kid, PB&J sandwiches were a staple of my diet, and though I don’t eat as much bread these days (or as much jelly), I’d never think of ending my love affair with the creamiest of all nut-butters.
Peanuts are Nut-ritious
I didn’t think much about nutrition growing up, other than holding onto the belief that anything labeled as “healthy” probably tasted bad and should therefore be avoided. Had I known peanut butter could be good for you, that might have been a turn-off. (Though at the time I only ate the candy peanut butter anyway.)
In time my perspective began to change and by my early twenties longevity suddenly mattered, so I decided to start eating healthy. Or at least I tried to start eating healthy. With so much misinformation out there, it’s really hard to even know what’s healthy and what isn’t. But one thing I quickly found out was that Skippy and Jif and all my other favorite brands of PB had been processed to the point where they were just straight-up junk food. The good stuff is the natural peanut butter – the kind with the oil floating on top. Stirring it together can even be a bonus workout – it’s win/win!
Which Butter is Better?
Switching to natural peanut butter in my early twenties was a life-altering moment for me. This was also around the time I first heard about “good fats” (ya know, the non-hydrogenated kind). Look at the nutrition label on your peanut butter – some brands try to market themselves as natural when they are not. Stay away from PB that contains any ingredients other than peanuts (and possibly salt).
Not only is natural PB a healthier option, but I also think it tastes better. I didn’t think that right away though of course. Like exercise, natty PB can be an acquired taste, but I was hooked by the time I finished my first jar!
The Butter Battle
Just when I thought I had this whole nut butter thing figured out, new information about PB started to come to light. In certain circles, peanut butter was becoming the bad guy. Now the experts were saying that almond butter or macadamia nut butter were better options. It turns out that peanuts aren’t even nuts! It’s true – contrary to what its name might lead you to believe, the peanut is technically not a nut – it’s a legume.
I’ve never been too much of a stickler for terminology myself, but people sure love to categorize things! While legumes and nuts have many similarities, what makes the peanut more pea than nut is that nuts grow on trees, while legumes grow in the ground. Nutritionally, legumes tend to contain a high amount of lectins, which have been linked to gastrointestinal distress and other health issues.
The Good, the Bad and the Nutty
The world of nutrition can be a tricky place, and there are pros and cons to all situations. In spite of their lectin content (and by the way – just about all foods contain varying degrees of lectins), I believe this is a situation of the good outweighing the bad. Peanuts are inexpensive compared to almonds and macadamias, plus they are full of nutrients. They’re also a great source of protein and – most importantly – they’re delicious!
Peanut butter is a versatile food that can be enjoyed in many contexts. I love blending peanut butter into a post workout smoothie along with a banana, a cup of milk and a little honey. It’s a recipe some of us know as “The Peanut Butter Banana Jammer.”
Peanut Butter Banana Jammer
2 Tablespoons of Natural Peanut Butter
6 oz. Milk (or another beverage of your choosing)
3-4 Ice Cubes
1/2 Teaspoon of Honey (optional)
Watch the video below for more!