A friend of mine on Obesity Help asked me to take on one of her favorite dessert recipes, the Buckeye. Being from Maryland I never knew much about this treat until she described it to me. It seems to me to be sort of a chocolatey-peanut buttery truffle type deal that has about a gamillion grams of fat and sugar in it (thereby making it completely delicious).
Well…I’m working on a weight-loss surgery friendly version (God help me). In the meantime, her suggestion gave me pause to contemplate one of my VERY favorite things. Peanut butter! Anyone who has followed this blog knows the love affair I’ve enjoyed with peanut butter post-op. I eat as much of it as I can get away with without tipping my nutritional ratios too far on the fat side!
For all you other peanut butter lovers out there, did you know there are some options out there in your stores (or by click on the internet) that give you GREAT return on your peanut butter investment?
First things first, let’s put this out there. Newbies (and those seeking to justify massive consumptions of this stuff): Peanut butter is primarily a source of FAT that has some protein in it. Granted its mostly the good kind–monounsaturated fat–but still, in my estimation it goes in both the portion control AND moderation column (and yes, I am still working on the moderation part). That is to say, I see a lot of newer folks eating peanut butter because “it has protein.” A serving of peanut butter has about 7g protein. It has about 17g of fat. That’s the cold, hard truth.
But that’s not to say we can’t love it! So here are my “go-to” peanut butter choices: (and in my stats comparisons, assume I’m comparing to the standard jar of commercial peanut butter with a 2 tbsp serving size: 190 calories, 17g fat, 150 mg sodium, 7g carbs, 2g fiber, 2g sugar, 7g protein)
#1 – For Nik’s Daily Consumption
For my peanut butter buck I like “Naturally More” peanut butter. They sell it at my local Super Wal-Mart for about $2.50 a jar. It is natural style peanut butter (meaning when you open the jar the oil will be on top and the butter will be on the bottom. They’ll need to be mixed). What makes this peanut butter different? Well several things.
First, the makers of this brand took most of the peanut oil out of the peanut butter and replaced it with flax seed oil. Flax seed oil is a very heart healthy fat. They also added whole flax seeds. Now the fat in flax seeds doesn’t do us much good in a whole seed form, but it does add something wonderful to this peanut butter: FIBER! Here are the stats on Naturally More:
As you can see, this beats out regular peanut butter by 21 calories, 6 grams of fat, it has 3 more grams of protein than commercial peanut butter and 4 grams of fiber!
“But Nik…how does it taste?”
Compared to other natural style peanut butters, this one has a good sweetness to it. It has a bit of honey in it. I have the world’s most sugar sensitive pouch and it has never bothered me (your mileage may vary). But it is different than…say…Jif. Commercial peanut butter adds regular sugar and salt and you’ll miss both those strong influences. But it’s a very good choice all around.
#2 – Healther option for a peanut butter cookie
Have we mentioned that we LOVE Trader Joe’s? Maybe once or twice. Well at “TJ’s” as we call it, they sell a brand of peanut butter called “Better’n Peanut Butter.” Here’s the review I did on it last summer. I swear, if you ever loved those Tastykake Peanut Butter Candy Kakes…this tastes JUST like the filling for that. It comes in a few varieties. My TJ’s has regular creamy and low-sodium. Here are the stats for the regular creamy:
So this one beats out regular peanut butter by a whopping 90 calories per serving! It only has 2g of fat (a drastic reduction). It clocks in with a pretty decent 2g of fiber but only has 4g of protein.
I like to use this one for cookies because it has a sweetness of its own that makes a lot of sugar substitute unnecessary.
“But Nik…what’s in it???”
Here’s the published recipe list. I’ve annotated for your additional information:
Ingredients: PEANUTS (AS DEFATTED PEANUT FLOUR AND NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER) (<–essentially PB2 or peanut flour), TAPIOCA SYRUP, PURE WATER, DEHYDRATED CANE JUICE (<–another name for sugar), RICE SYRUP (<–yet another name for sugar), VEGETABLE GLYCERIN (<–this is probably used to create the peanut butter texture in absence of most of the peanut fat that’s removed), SOY FLOUR (<–provides a teeny bit of added protein), SALT, TAPIOCA STARCH, NATURAL FOOD FLAVORS, PAPRIKA & ANNATO, CALCIUM CARBONATE (<–don’t get too excited RNY peeps. We need calcium CITRATE), LECITHIN, VITAMINS E & C (ANTIOXIDANTS).
Don’t get scared because of the multiple sources of sugar. If you read our “Sugar Shock” educational series, you know not all sugars are created equally. Bottom line though: each serving has 2g of sugar. That’s not likely to bother anyone, but always do a taste test to see how YOU react.
#3 – For my protein shakes
I can’t tell you how many people I hear of putting peanut butter in their protein shakes. That is NOT good return on investment peeps. It makes your shake hella caloric and high in fat without giving you a lot of protein back in return.
So how do I achieve peanut buttery shakes and desserts? I use peanut flour! Now peanut flour can be purchased locally at Trader Joe’s (is there any need they CAN’T fill???) or online as a brand called PB2.
“But Nik…peanut flour???”
Ok, so here’s the deal. Basically peanut flour is what is left of a peanut after it is pressed for peanut oil. The byproduct is a fine powder that has 85% less fat than its original peanut counterpart with all the good peanutty taste in tact.
Here are the stats for peanut flour:
So as you can see, it beats out any other peanut product I’ve listed. The caveat? (Because there is ALWAYS a caveat in these situations) It’s not peanut BUTTER. It’s peanut FLOUR. Some folks choose to add water and use it as peanut butter. I don’t, mostly because peanut butter gets a lot of its flavor from the fat in it. And water just doesn’t do the same things. Instead, I use it to make protein pies, protein shakes and other yummies!
That’s the long and short of peanut butter in my estimation. Yes, there are other nut butters out there (I particularly like cashew and almond butter). And yes there are other brands of peanut butter out there. If you have one with really good stats, post it in the comments so we can all learn about it!