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Peanut butter a versatile cooking ingredient

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT

This food item is found in most pantries all over the country. I have three varieties in mine right now. It is often eaten at breakfast, lunch and at snack time. All ages enjoy this food. Can you guess what it is? The item is peanut butter. It is so popular that approximately 65 million tons of peanut butter will be consumed in the United States this month.

November is National Peanut Butter Lovers Month. Peanut butter not only tastes great, but is a jar full of nutrition. Two tablespoons of peanut butter is considered a serving which contains 190 calories, 8 grams of protein and is rich in both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The protein helps keep you satisfied and content until your next meal, while the healthy fats can help improve cholesterol levels and lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Peanut butter also contains a variety of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, niacin, folate, phosphorus, calcium, iron, vitamin E, and zinc. These vitamins and minerals help to elevate your mood and regulate blood sugar. Peanut butter can be enjoyed daily, but for those watching their weight, it is important to control portion size due to its high caloric value.

In addition to putting peanut butter on bread and whole-grain crackers, it also can be used in these ways:

n Add 1 or 2 tablespoons to cooked oatmeal for extra protein.

n Spread it on apple and banana slices or use as a filling in strawberries.

n Spread on whole-grain waffles or pancakes instead of syrup.

n Ingredient in a dipping sauce for grilled chicken, pork, shrimp or crackers (see recipe)

Interesting peanut butter facts

n A 12-ounce jar of peanut butter contains about 540 peanuts.

n According to the FDA, any product called “peanut butter” whether it is commercial or natural, must contain at least 90 percent peanuts without any artificial sweeteners, colors or preservatives.

n Americans consume more than 700 million pounds of peanut butter in a year.

n A product called Plumpy’nut is a peanut paste fortified with vitamins and minerals used to help treat malnutrition in undeveloped countries.

Southwestern

peanut-cilantro dipping sauce

Makes 1 cup (8 servings)

½ cup creamy peanut butter

6 tablespoons mild prepared salsa verde

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon granular sugar substitute

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Combine the peanut butter, salsa verde, ¼ cup water, sour cream and sugar substitute in a blender. Process until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cilantro. Can be refrigerated up to 3 days.

Nutritional information per serving: 112 calories, 5 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 4 grams protein, 9 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 98 milligrams sodium.

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