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The PBJ.

Like milk and cookies, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a classic.

It’s likely one of the first things many of us ever made. Feeding ourselves with a hand-held, super simple, sweet and salty sammy.

Due to the plant-based protein and healthy fats, nuts have a healthy halo. People who regularly eat nuts, about a ¼ cup or a small handful, appear to have lower weight and waist circumference than those who don’t eat nuts regularly. Not honey-roasted or candy-coated, but just plain, roasted nuts. Nuts’ protein helps us feel full longer, so we’re less likely to pop something else in our mouth. And the fat in nuts is the heart-healthy unsaturated kind. But still, those fat calories add up. That’s why a serving of nut butter is 2 tablespoons.

Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies and its prevalence has more than tripled in U.S. children. It’s a serious allergy and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease has new recommendations to prevent peanut allergy. Working with an allergy specialist, parents may introduce peanuts to babies by 4 to 6 months of age, if they’ve started solid foods.

With peanut allergy on the rise, what to do with all that strawberry and grape jam?

Make nut butter.

Many people who suffer with peanut allergy also cannot tolerate tree nuts. But for those who can...make nut butter. The great thing about making your own is that you reduce added fat and sugar that is found in most store-bought nut butters. But even more, is that each nut and seed brings unique and beneficial vitamins, minerals and other plant compounds to the recipe.

  • Buy nuts in bulk to keep cost down.
  • Choose raw and unsalted nuts.
  • If you want crunchier nut butter, scoop out a half cup or so of the chunky butter, continue processing until all ingredients are pretty smooth. Then stir the reserved back in.

Nuts have high oil content. Overtime, these oils can become rancid, so nut butter will do that too. Cooler temperatures slow the deterioration. Store in cupboard for up to 3 months or 6 months in the refrigerator.

  • From pickles and pretzels to granola and grapes, nut butter pairs with about anything. Here are a few to try on a sandwich (whole-grain bread, please):
  • fried egg or hard-cooked egg slices
  • sliced apple or pear
  • fresh mango and dried coconut
  • dried cranberries or apricots
  • sliced cucumber and shredded carrot

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Judy Barbe is a registered dietitian, speaker and author of “Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest: Simple Solutions for Fresh Food & Well-Being.” Visit her website www.LiveBest.info for every day food solutions.

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