Let’s take a quick look at the big picture. The Amazing Mumford was a cool cat on Sesame St. years ago and chances are really good you found yourself saying “A la peanut butter sandwiches” once or twice while growing up—at least, those of you old enough to remember The Amazing Mumford did. With influences like that, who could resist the creamy taste of peanut butter sloshing around between your cheeks?
Fast forward to adulthood and eating peanut butter has all of a sudden gotten complicated. We start to worry about things like fat, calories, chemicals, preservatives and aflatoxins. On behalf of all you health conscious eaters out there, I’m going to put the peanut butter debate into perspective.
I know a lot of you like to add this pasty substance to your smoothies, sandwiches, oatmeal, celery and cookies. Some of you probably still stick your fingers in the peanut butter jar when you’re hangry in the middle of the afternoon too. Don’t lie! But hey, it’s cool. I don’t judge eating habits. I know I have plenty of weird ones of my own.
Due to the fat content of peanut butter, companies have recently crafted this marvelous “powdered” alternative, which affords you the ability to go where no other man or woman has gone before. At your disposal, you have the taste of peanut butter without the fat AND without the guilt. Wow! What could be cooler than that? A lot, actually.
Fat is not the devil. We’ve been saying that at K/Rail headquarters for years now. Your body wants fat, needs fat, and in most cases, craves it.
Fat is one of the three main macronutrients you need on a daily basis for proper function. Not only does it help lubricate your joints, but it keeps your skin healthy, improves your brain function and helps with hormone production. Instead of trying to dodge it, you should instead opt for the right kind. That’s where the rub comes in.
Regular peanut butter does not contain healthy fat. Instead it has partially or fully hydrogenated oil, which is saturated fat–the bad kind that contributes to clogged arteries. Unless you’ve been wasting hours a day in front of a PS2 game, you should probably know that by now.
The healthy kind is unsaturated fat. All natural peanut butter where you can physically see oil at the top is safe. This is the kind you need to stir. Good quality natural peanut butter has either one or two ingredients—peanuts or peanuts and salt. End of story.
Don’t be fooled by the hucksters out there. Popular brands like Skippy, Jiff and Peter Pan, for example, have all thrown their hands into the natural peanut butter arena. However, when you spin the jar 180 degrees and glance at the ingredient label, you will see plenty more ingredients than just peanuts and salt. Steer clear my friend. ALWAYS refer to the ingredient label to make sure you are not being lied to.
The surefire way to avoid dreaded chemicals, contaminants and unsavory add-ins, is by going organic. If you want to avoid aflatoxins, I’m afraid I can’t help you. These are naturally-occurring substances that form from mold and are found in foods like peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, olives and corn.
The good news is, according to your best friends the FDA, the amount present in these foods is negligible and will not have a long-term impact on your health. If you’re still concerned, you can teach your body how to survive without breathing, because you are probably getting more toxins from the air you take in on a daily basis then the amount of aflatoxins you’ll get from food.
My advice is, stick with the fully leaded peanut butter, but “schedule” the calories from it into your daily diet. One tablespoon, three times a day is not going to put you in the fat house. Just don’t sit down in front of a Sex in the City marathon with a spoon in one hand and 2-lb jar of organic peanut butter in the other.
For those of you who are still determined to cut back on peanut butter calories by going with the powder, I’m not going to stop you. But I AM going to make a recommendation. The Company Betty Lou’s has a good version of powdered peanut butter called Just Great Stuff. I know this company is legit because I’ve used their other products for years. Give this one a whirl and you won’t go wrong.
One last thing before I go. I want to share a quick story with you. I used to put peanut butter in my oatmeal. One day when I was whipping up a batch, I realized I had run out and forgot to get a new container.
The reason I use it is not necessarily for the taste, but for the healthy fat. I had to think fast so I reached for my jar of organic coconut oil and threw in a tablespoon. From that day on, I’ve never gone back to peanut butter.
Coconut oil added an interesting and delicious flavor, and in the big picture, it trumps peanut butter in nutritional value. I’m not saying YOU should replace peanut butter with coconut oil, but if you are looking for an alternative, you know where to go.