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Nuts about peanut butter

peanut butter and strawberries on toast health benefits

I used to hate it, although I’m not sure why, but I confess that these days, while I spread some on slices of warm toast for my daughter, the odd teaspoon of thick crunchy peanut butter will find its way into my mouth! I just like the nutty ‘salty’ taste, I guess. We don’t use any obvious salt in our diet, so I let this bit of saltiness go, and it’s a no-added-sugar variety that Maya has. The creaminess feels utterly indulgent but peanut butter with a high nut content is a healthy staple to have in the cupboard. Avoid brands that have added sugars and palm oil, though.

I use peanut butter on crumpets and toast, and also slicked on to slices of pear or apple for a fibre and protein-rich energy boost. A couple of tablespoons will also work well in vegetable casseroles – think of the delicious Malaysian dish Gado-Gado, which is simply lots of cooked vegetables in a peanut sauce. You could also try a teaspoon popped into porridge with a chopped banana on top for breakfast, or add it to biscuit mixtures (see the recipes, below).

pear slices with peanut butter

I imagine many of you will be wondering about the fat – isn’t peanut butter just a spoonful of trouble? In fact, like peanuts, peanut butter is a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, which can help reduce levels of 'bad' cholesterol and protect our arteries from clogging up. Peanut butter (and peanuts) do not contain any cholesterol, are 25 per cent protein, contain vitamin E, which is good for circulation, and B vitamins, which benefit our bodies in a huge number of ways. Peanuts also have a low glycaemic index rating, which means the energy they provide is pretty long-lasting – which is why popping a little peanut butter on porridge or toast makes for a gold-star breakfast.

The peanut is not in fact a nut but a member of the legume family, along with peas, beans and lentils. It does contain a lot more oil and fat than other legumes, but like them, it is a good source of both soluble and non-soluble fibre, which helps keep our blood fat levels good and our guts moving in the right direction. There isn’t actually any butter in peanut butter, which is why this creamy stuff is a good sandwich filling if you have high cholesterol. And a tablespoon of peanut butter contains only about 90 calories – the same as a medium banana.

So why not try my Peanut Flapjacks? They’re a delicious nutty biscuit, good for a mid-afternoon energy boost, and they’ll last for a couple of weeks in an airtight tin.

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