When I think of foods I avoid buying because when in stock and in house I have absolutely no self-control over eating them only in moderation, peanut butter ranks right up there. I love peanut butter. So much so, that I can and will eat it right out of the jar by the spoonful. Yes, I love me an old-fashioned peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a peanut butter cookie, but by the spoon is just a yummy to me. I only like creamy peanut butter though and this choosy mother only chooeses Jif. I know what I like, but what I didn’t know is my choice says something about my personality and so does yours!
Creamy or Crunchy?
By pure coincidence, a survey was recently conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Jif that examined the peanut butter preferences of 2,000 Americans and it found some interesting tidbits about peanut butter eaters…and it wasn’t that they’re nuts!
Respondents were evenly split by their crunchy vs. creamy preference and one-third of them described themselves as extremely passionate about their peanut butter preferences. So what did we discover?
Apparently those who choose crunchy may have a cheerier outlook on life, as 63 percent of crunchers described themselves as optimists, compared to 56 percent of those who prefer the creamy kind. Creamy fans also tend to be early birds (not this creamy fan!) and more introverted (yep, raising my hand) while crunchy eaters are extroverted night owls.
Amazingly, the power of peanut butter can be traced all the way back to childhood. When asked about theirs, respondents who like creamy peanut butter reported being teased more than their crunchy counterparts (47 percent vs. 28 percent) and some of that influence may stick around as 68 percent of creamy peanut butter fans said they’ve felt the pressure to fit in compared to just 50 percent of crunchy eaters. Kinda makes sense when you consider the introvert/extrovert numbers.
On a “I totally get that” scale, 63 percent of all respondents said they would pass on peanut butter all together if it’s not their chosen kind but on the “that’s ridiculous” scale, nearly half of them said it would be a deal-breaker to discover their date likes the opposite peanut butter version that they do. Seriously? First of all, if you’re talking peanut butter on a date, maybe it’s time to find a new date and secondly, just fall in love buy both kinds!
Lastly, both creamy and crunchy lovers also love animals and both prefer grape jelly on their PB&Js.
Spread It Around
In my unofficial peanut poll, I found that most people agree peanut butter in general is good stuff. But, many aren’t aware of the many surprising uses of peanut butter and its nutritional value. Let’s start with its interesting and fun uses.
- My personal favorite is a hiccup eliminator. Yep, one spoonful of peanut butter will almost always get rid of those annoying hics. Give it a try next time. Even if it doesn’t work, it’s much more appetizing than sugar!
- I’m guessing you’ve all heard the trick of concealing your pet’s medicine in a spoonful of peanut butter, which is also a trick you can implement with kids. It’s said you can also clean leather by rubbing a small amount of creamy butter on an item using a soft cloth and men can even shave with it should they run out of shaving cream…only the creamy version though!
- If you’ve got a critter problem, look no further than a jar of peanut butter. Putting some at the end of a mousetrap will catch a rodent quicker than cheese and a mix of peanut butter, baking soda, and borax can be applied wherever you see ants. Just be sure to keep pets away from the baited area. Lastly and perhaps my favorite even though I hate bugs, this one is ingenious. When you finish a jar of peanut butter, remove the lid and place it on its side wherever you see any kind of bugs or spiders. The critters will crawl into the jar but will get stuck on any remaining peanut butter, making clean up a snap by simply placing the lid back on and tossing it away. Voila!
- And speaking of bugs, all those that get stuck on your windshield can be a real booger to remove. Whether you have whole bugs or bug remains, rub some peanut butter on those spots, let it sit for 10 minutes, and hose it all off.
- Being that peanut butter has lots of oil, it can also work as a great lubricant. Instead of using W-40 or other spray lubricants, apply a dab of peanut butter to squeaky door hinges, tools, and other items.
- This same concept holds true for anything sticky like gum, glue, or price stickers. Rub a little in hair, carpet, or anything else gum is stuck in and wipe it away after letting it sit for a bit. And, instead of washing your glue-stained hands or supplies with soap and water, use peanut butter as its natural oils act as repellents and rinse it off. Now onto those pesky stickers that regardless of how carefully you try to remove them (are you listening frame makers?!), a sticky residue remains. But, not after you smear a small dollop of peanut butter on it and wipe away.
- I have heard of applying peanut butter to scratched wood but had never heard of substituting peanut butter for butter while cooking, which is not only good in a pinch but will give your recipe a unique nutty taste. Has anyone tried this and if so, did it work well? If it’s a fish recipe you’re cooking only to be left with that foul fish smell in your house, try frying a tablespoon of smooth peanut butter to eliminate the pesky odor. Hmmmm…I guess it’s worth a try next time.
- Two fun ideas that you can get the kids involved in is using peanut butter to make bird feeders and to seal the bottoms of ice cream cones. To make birdfeeders, simply roll any item like a pinecone or TP roll in peanut butter, attach a string, and hang. You can also spread peanut butter on a halved bagel, run a string through the middle hole, and hang outside. The birds will love both the peanut butter and the bagel!
- To prevent ice cream cones from leaking out the bottom, scoop some peanut butter into the bottom before scooping the ice cream. It will not only prevent leaks and messes, it makes for a yummy treat at the bottom of the cone!
HISTORY SERVED US RIGHT
Those who discovered the makings of peanut butter would probably be shocked at its many interesting uses today but its history is equally interesting.
In the late 1800s, a number of people experimented with making a spread using peanuts, including John Harvey Kellogg, who invented Cornflakes, and famous botanist and inventor George Washington Carver. There is some evidence that the ancient Aztecs made peanut butter as early as the 14th century by simply smashing and mashing peanuts. The first person to patent peanut butter was Canadian Marcellus Gilmore Edson. The Montreal native originally concocted the product for people who had no teeth and received his patent in 1884.
A number of inventors are also credited with helping create the creamy spread we know and love today. The first peanut butter making machine was invented in 1904 and in 1922 chemist Joseph Rosenfeld invented the process by which smooth peanut butter is made. Thank you Mr. Rosenfeld!
Rosenfeld’s invention was later used in the making of Peter Pan peanut butter and in 1932 he began producing his own brand called Skippy. Most peanut butter is made and consumed in the U.S. where good old Americans eat $800 million worth of the spread annually. Since it takes more than 500 peanuts to make one jar of peanut butter, that’s a lot of peanuts and a lot of peanut butter!
Today, whether you eat it straight out of the jar, in one of my favorite “Uncrustable” pre-made mini sandwiches, spread on a sandwich or apple slices, in curry sauces, or in the middle of Reese’s Cups, you could say peanut butter is almost as American as apple pie.
And, contrary to what many believe, did you know peanut butter can also be good for you? Okay, so maybe not in a sugar and butter-ladened peanut butter cookie or white bread and sugar-saturated jelly sandwich, but in its raw, natural form, peanut butter packs quite the nutritional punch and can be an excellent source of nutrition as it contains protein, iron, and potassium along with other nutrients.
Made of roasted ground peanuts blended into a thick paste, peanut butter is not surprisingly protein rich. It is also a good source of Vitamins B6 and E, Niacin (B3), Manganese, and Magnesium as well as copper, which helps maintain bone health, immune function, and blood vessels. Some research also suggests that having copper in your diet may reduce the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. Those antioxidants – Manganese, Vitamin E, and B vitamins – also prevent and repair cell damage in our bodies, reducing the risk of chronic disease like cancer.
Also rich in a fat known as oleic acid, peanut butter may improve heart health and reduce the risk of diabetes. Oleic acid has been shown to help maintain good cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure, thereby possibly preventing heart and vascular disease. That same acid has also been shown to reduce the body’s insulin resistance, which can raise your blood sugar and lead to diabetes. Research shows peanut butter’s Omega-6 may also have this same effect.
Peanut butter is thought to be fatty and not what you want to include in a diet longing to get rid of body fat, but the fats in peanut butter are the so-called “healthy” ones – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids – and foods high in them as well as proteins and fiber take longer for our bodies to digest, which helps keep us fuller for longer amounts of time, thereby reducing snacking and overeating. So, even though you blame peanut butter for a weight gain, it’s probably not the product but the amount you put in your mouth and how often.
As with anything though, it’s all about moderation as peanuts are high in calories and so is peanut butter. A two tablespoon serving of regular peanut butter is generally thought to contain 207 calories, 9 grams of protein, 18 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, and 1 gram of sugar. So much for me dipping spoonful after spoonful and enjoying a little harmless snack!
On that same nutritional label, be sure to check for any added ingredients like sugar, vegetable oil, and trans fats and look for a version that doesn’t contain additives. If you’re really concerned, simply make your own peanut butter by blending roasted peanuts in a food processor.
There are possible health risks with peanut butter, not least of which are peanut allergies. It’s amazing how widespread they are today and I saw this troubling food phenomenon first-hand when I worked in a preschool for many years. At the start of my tenure, nary a student had a peanut allergy and if there were any, the number was minimal. By the time I hung up my teacher title, if you didn’t have a peanut allergy in your class you were considered fortunate. So many nut allergies. Peanuts. Tree nuts. Almonds. Air born. Ingested. Epi-Pens. Emergency medical forms. Separate allergy tables for lunch and snack. You name it. It was there. But why? Why wasn’t this the case when I was growing up or even when our daughter was growing up? Some blame chemicals and pesticides, but if one is allergic to whole, natural peanuts themselves, it’s got to be something else.
A new study by the Murdock Children’s Research Institute reports that introducing peanut products early in a child’s life prevented peanut allergy during randomized controlled trials. The research found changes to food allergy guidelines has led to a 16 percent decrease in peanut allergies among infants and also found a significant increase in parents introducing peanut into their babies’ diets since the guideline changes. Is this a possible lightbulb moment?
During the 1990s, some guidelines recommended avoiding allergenic foods until ages 1-3 years but by 2008 advice started to shift slightly based on increasing evidence that delaying allergenic foods was associated with increased food allergy risks. International infant feeding guidelines changed in 2016 to recommend introduction of peanut and other allergenic foods before 12 months. And the results are promising.
Peanut allergy prevalence between 2007-2011 was 3.1 percent, a number that dropped to 2.6 percent in 2018-2019, a 16 percent decrease. In addition, infants who didn’t consume any peanut products between 2018-2019 were 4.8 percent allergic while at the same time severe reactions to introducing peanuts early were uncommon.
Of course each child and each family is different and personal and professional health providers should always be consulted prior to any dietary changes. Peanut allergies, whether arrived at early in life or later in life, can be fatal in some cases and care should always be taken.
Another word of caution regarding peanut butter is to always keep in mind that it is high in calories and while most of the fat in it is the “good” kind, peanuts also contain some saturated fat. They are also high in phosphorus, which can limit your body’s absorption of minerals like zinc and iron. If you are deficient in these minerals, a diet high in phosphorus may worsen your condition. Again, check with your doctor if you have any concerns.
You can go nuts when it comes to choosing peanut butter, but maybe for some of you it’s not actually peanut butter that is your best choice. Consider almond butter, as almonds have the highest concentration of nutrients per ounce and also contain those Omega-3’s that peanuts lack. Macadamia Nut Butter is also an option and although macadamians have more calories than peanuts, they have the highest amount of healthy fats of any nut. Another alternative is walnut butter, made from Omega-3 and Omega-6 rich walnuts, which have less fat and calories than peanuts. Lastly, how about a powdered peanut butter like PB2? I discovered the stuff a few years back and although it, once mixed with water, may not be the makings of a perfect PB&J, it is actually quite yummy with celery. Never say never!
I will say peanut butter is one of my favorite cookies and how cool is the traditional fork print on the tops of them? They are also, I might add, the one time I don’t mind using crunchy peanut butter as the nuts in it give the cookies extra depth and texture.
Whatever peanut butter you prefer, now you know there’s a whole lot more to it than crunchy or creamy. Spread the news!
Disclaimer: Test all items and people before using or ingesting peanut butter and contact a doctor before implementing a peanut-free or peanut-introduced diet.