It's easy to keep, easy to eat, and most kids love it. But is peanut butter good for them?
Yes, nutrition experts say. Your children are much better off with a peanut butter sandwich than if they ate the same number of calories in candy bars and potato chips, or by drinking soda. Those snack foods have little nutritional value.
The typical supermarket brand of peanut butter, while high in overall fat content, is low in saturated fat—and high in protein and fiber. But you have some healthy options. For example, the oil is separated from the nut paste in many natural peanut butter brands. So to make a lower fat version, skim some of the oil off before you mix the paste and oil together. Also, you could make your own natural peanut butter at home (see recipe below). Beware: low-fat versions may not be healthier. Many times, these products have added sugar to make up for the missing fat and improve taste. So low-fat peanut butter may be lower in fat but contain the same number of calories as the regular type.
Peanut butter is versatile. Here are a few variations nutritionists recommend:
Peanut butter and sliced bananas on whole wheat bread.
Peanut butter on celery sticks with raisins.
Peanut butter, date, and nut spread. (Blend 1 cup dates, one-half cup chopped pecans, one-half cup chopped walnuts, 1 cup creamy peanut butter, and 4 tablespoons evaporated milk.) Spread on crackers, bread, or fresh fruit.
Peanut butter milkshake. (Blend 2 scoops vanilla ice-milk or low-fat frozen yogurt, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1 cup skim or low-fat milk, and 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter.) It's a quick snack or fast breakfast, and high in protein, calcium, and B vitamins.
Easy to make
Peanut butter doesn't have to come from the supermarket. It's easy to make. And the kids can help.
Shell two cups of fresh roasted peanuts. Place the peanuts in a blender, add two tablespoons of corn oil or peanut oil, and blend. The kids can watch the mixture turn first to chunky peanut butter and then to creamy.
The homemade batch will be thicker in texture than the store brands and taste more like peanuts. Keep it refrigerated so the oil won't separate from the nut paste.