It is believed that peanut butter dates back as far as the Incas who ground peanuts to make butter. In the United States today, peanut butter and peanut sweets are among the best selling products.

Peanut butter, providing it’s the whole skin with no added salt or sugar, is surprisingly good for you.

Peanuts contain the compound resveratrol, which is known for its protective and regenerative properties. Resveratrol scavenges free radicals and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and some neurological disorders. It is also considered to improve glucose metabolism.

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Health benefits of peanuts

The health benefits of peanuts may equal that of other nuts, such as almonds or walnuts, although strictly speaking peanuts are not true nuts.

Nutritionally though peanuts are protein dense and contain good levels of potassium, vitamin E, vitamin B3 and biotin.

It’s not all about the calories either… a good protein rich, nutrient dense meal or snack can sustain your energy and curb your appetite for longer. Busy lives are not conducive to spending hours in the kitchen! So the following quick recipes are a nutritious treat on any day.

Chicken with peanut sauce

Serves 4

The protein content of this delicious meal is around 50g per serving plus 8 -10g if adding rye bread. Each serving provides between 350 and 400 calories.

Ingredients:

– 1 Ib (500g) chicken breasts, cut into strips
– 5oz (140g) smooth peanut butter
– 7 oz (1 x 200g pack) soba buckwheat noodles
– 2 tbsp tamari soy sauce
– 2-3 spring onions, chopped
– 1 tbsp coconut oil
– 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
– 2-3 oz (60-70g) of beansprouts
– 1 tsp fresh ginger – grated
– 4 fl oz (110mls) miso paste

Method:

1. Cook the noodles as per packet instructions.

2. Saute the red pepper, spring onions and beansprouts in the coconut oil for a few minutes. Set aside and then in the same pan, saute the chicken strips until cooked.

3. Mix the peanut butter, soy sauce and ginger in a medium sized saucepan over a low heat. Stir in the miso stock, noodles, vegetables and chicken and serve. Great with a green salad and slice of rye bread.

Buckwheat noodles make this dish a little bit different. Buckwheat noodles have a lower glycaemic index than regular noodles, which means they are more slowly digested and metabolized in the body.

They also contain fewer calories.

Peanut butter raises the protein content of this dish a little more and nut consumption is associated with numerous health benefits. You may be surprised to know that peanuts improve adherence to a diet and even weight loss goals (Mattes et al 2008)

And healthy peanut butter recipes have to include the sweet stuff…

Peanut cookies

Ingredients:

– 50g dried apricots
– 50g ground almonds
– 2 tbsp peanut butter
– 1/4 tsp almond extract
– Handful of raisins
– 2-3 dates (pitted)
– 39g dried oats
– Water to bind

healthy peanut butter recipes_2Method:

In a food processor, blend the nuts, apricots and peanut butter. Add the water a spoonful at a time until mixture forms a dough. Add the raisins, dates and oats and form flat cookie shapes.

These can be eaten raw, but I prefer to pop them in the oven for around 5 – 8 minutes until just browned.

These cookies are a delight, very satisfying and the sweetness of the dates means you don’t need to add any sugar.

Chocolate peanut butter ball

Ingredients:

– 50g ground almonds
– 1 tbs cacao powder (or cocoa powder if preferred)
– 10 – 12 pitted dates
– 2 tbs peanut butter
– 1 – 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
– 1 tbsp agave syrup if desired

Method:

1. Blend dates, cacao powder, almonds and peanut butter in a food processor.

2. Add the agave if desired and roll the mixture into balls.

3. Coat with desiccated coconut.

4. Place in the fridge to firm up a little.

These are a real treat and are great eaten on their own, with some strawberries or chopped up and added to a dessert.

Cocoa and cacao contain poly phenols, which are plant derived nutrients that have health promoting properties. According to studies, the poly phenols in cacao/cocoa may increase calmness and contentment …. so good mood food!

healthy peanut butter recipes_4Cashew and peanut butter flapjacks

Ingredients:

– 1 tbsp coconut oil
– 50 g of oats
– 25g glace cherries
– 50g ground flaxseeds
– 25g of pecans, chopped
– 50g chopped cashew nuts
– 1 tbsp raw honey or agave syrup
– 2 large tbsp peanut butter
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

1. Preheat oven and lightly grease and line the base of a baking tin.

2. In a bowl, combine oats,, cherries, flaxseeds, pecans and cashews.

3. Melt the oil in a saucepan and add honey/agave,peanut butter and vanilla.

4. Add to the other ingredients and combine.

5. Turn into the tin and Bake for around 20 minutes on a medium heat.

Should make around 6-8 slices.

These are lovely wholesome snacks that will release sugar slowly and sustain energy. Perfect made with a bit of coconut oil that can also help with weight management. The flaxseeds are a rich source of omega 3 fats and magnesium, needed for multiple processes in the body.

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