Saturday, June 22, 2013

How To Make Peanut Butter More Nutritious.

Despite what a lot of people say, I think it's really tough to eat real food on a budget. Sure, real food costs SO MUCH less than processed foods, but for a girl like me that's only learned to shop for real food, I feel like I pay so much each week and month! Even though this happens, my philosophy is that I would rather pay for food now, and take care of my body, than I would to pay the doctor later.

A few weeks ago I had an extreme craving for peanut butter. I generally avoid the stuff since peanuts are a legume, and legumes should be soaked and cooked before eating like their cousin the bean family. Peanut butter in general is also very hard to digest for many people, and those of us who are allergic to soy can cross-react with peanuts. Peanut butter also contains a good amount of aflatoxin, a toxic substance in the mold created by specific microorganisms that grow on peanuts. Buying organic peanut butter is best for limiting your aflatoxin exposure, but doesn't negate it entirely.

I have been learning how to listen to my body, so I bought some peanut butter.  I think I went through 2 jars in the next two weeks before my cravings for it subsided. And then the addictive cravings started to happen, and because I know the difference between those two types of cravings, I started to cut back. As the weeks of my last quarter of medical school wore on, I still ate the peanut butter here and there, and even started making some peanut butter smoothies in my Vitamix (= mistake, they are so good!). But around the same time I noticed my digestion starting to get worse. Could it be the peanut butter? I did some experimenting and found that it was indeed causing my painful cramping and bloating. Clearly my body can only handle so much peanut butter.

But back to my real reason for this post. Bottom line is that real food costs money. There are several ways to help alleviate the expense, like buying in bulk, sharing with other people, buying meat one from source and freezing it, buying lots of a certain item when it's on sale, buying from farmers markets, and my favorite: always asking "do I really need this?" I find that 75% of the time the answer is no. At the end of the day, all I really need is some good quality protein, lots of veggies, and some fat. One thing that can help the food budget is making compromises where you're comfortable. For many, peanut butter can be a cheap and decent source of protein and fat. But how do you make it even more nutritious? That's where this post comes in.

When I was buying peanut butter a few weeks ago, I had the idea of pouring off the naturally separated peanut oil and replacing the peanut oil with good quality coconut oil. The results were easy and delicious! With each spoonful I knew I was getting some good quality MCT's from the coconut oil, which are great fuel source for the body and keeping your metabolism strong. Removing most of the peanut oil also decreased the amount of Omega-6 fatty acids that my body was getting. Having a low Om6/Om3 ratio in our bodies is vitally important for staying healthy.

To make your peanut butter more nutritious:
  1.  Buy your favorite natural creamy unsalted peanut butter, organic is best. Make sure that the oil has separated on the top. If not, try reaching to the back of the shelf and grabbing one that has separated.
  2.  At home, take the lid carefully off the jar and gently pour off the separated peanut oil. I like to tilt my jar around a few times to get as much off as possible.
  3.  With a large spoon, take about the same amount of coconut oil and stir it into your peanut butter. STIR well! These are fun, or do it by hand. If you don't like the taste of coconuts, you're seriously at the wrong blog, but nevertheless I will tell you that it does NOT make the peanut butter taste coconutty.
  4.  Lastly, add your favorite unrefined sea salt to the mix. Stir well again.
  5.  Sample some off the spoon/knife to double check that it is delicious. Some people like more or less salt.
  6.  Then stick your peanut butter in the refridgerator! It will solidify a little and will spread just like Jiff! But without all the gunk! As it sits out at room temperature on your spoon it will start to melt a little and be more runny. ENJOY!

If peanut butter isn't your thing, or if you prefer almond butter, try this with storebought almond butter!

If you'd rather make your own homemade nut butter, check out this cashew cookie butter recipe. Or use either storebought or homemade almond butter to make some cinnamon honey almond butter, or what I like to call CHAB. Which my mom is obsessed with and she calls me every so often saying "Guess what I made today! CHAB!"

One final note: Adam's brand peanut butter is the PNW's equivalent to Smuckers on the East Coast, or Laura Scudders down in California. I've liked these kinds before, so it was cool to learn it's all the same company. Kind of like Dreyer's ice cream vs Edy's ice cream on the West Coast vs East Coast.

Happy mixing!