[This was written by Rachel, a guest blogger interning at Mosquito Squad this summer.]
Peanut butter is one of my all time favorite substances. It is delicious when eaten by the spoonful and also has the ability to make other foods taste 1,000 times better. Of course, it isn’t the lightest food out there, but it is so filling that I argue it is worth the calories and saturated fat. And hey, it has protein and is low carb! So there.
Here I am focusing on two categories of peanut butter consumption. The first one involves using peanut butter to make something healthy taste much more exciting, whereas the second category is all about adding peanut butter to foods that are already very indulgent.
5 ways to combine peanut butter with healthy food:
1. FRUIT—Spread peanut butter on the entire length of a banana and then slice the banana. Eat the pieces with a fork to feel sophisticated.
2. FRUIT+VEGGIES—Scoop 2 tablespoons of peanut butter into a bowl and use it as carrot or apple dip.
3. PROTEIN+FRUIT—Spoon 1 cup of nonfat Greek yogurt into a blender. Add one sliced or mashed banana, 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. This delicious chocolate PB banana smoothie is low in sugar and packed with protein.
4. PROTEIN—Spread peanut butter on a piece of fat free bologna. Roll up the piece of bologna and eat it. Sure, bologna is heavily processed, but if you’re trying to avoid carbs then this is a very smart and satisfying snack!
5. FIBER—I might be the only person in the world who loves peanut butter enough to do this, but sometimes when I eat Kashi Peanut Peanut Butter bars I make them more palatable by spreading peanut butter on top of them. Some may call that excessive. I call it consistent.
5 ways peanut butter can take indulgent foods to the next level of decadence:
1. CHOCOLATE—mix peanut butter with chocolate chips. I usually use a 1 to 1 ratio of chocolate to peanut butter, but to each her own.
2. ICE CREAM—use vanilla, chocolate, chocolate chip cookie dough, cookies and cream, or any other type of ice cream that you deem a good match for peanut butter (disclaimer: I do not take responsibility for ruining your bowl of strawberry ice cream). For each scoop of ice cream, add a spoonful of peanut butter. Now use a sturdy metal spoon to stir the peanut butter into the scoop of ice cream. It will be slow going at first, especially if the ice cream starts out really cold. Eventually the consistency will become slightly thinner like soft serve and the peanut butter will completely mix in. Enjoy your peanut butter soft serve ice cream! The wonderful thing about it is you can add as much PB as you please!
3. S’MORES—Spread peanut butter onto one of the graham crackers before encasing the marshmallow and chocolate. The warmth of the roasted marshmallow will melt the peanut butter. YUM!
4. BROWNIES—Technically the peanut butter could be added during the baking process or used as frosting. I enjoy the challenge of baking it into the brownie. You have to very deliberately spoon it out in a swirly pattern without letting it sink all the way to the bottom or clump up in huge blobs. Regardless of whether you bake the PB into the brownie or add it after the fact, your brownies will thank you.
5. WAFFLES—This is my favorite creation to eat in the morning. You make a waffle, spread peanut butter on top of the entire thing, and then drizzle maple syrup all over. The peanut butter melts and the maple syrup really brings out the flavor, causing this combination to taste like freshly baked peanut butter cookies.
Well, those are all of my PB secrets. I recommend using JIF regular creamy peanut butter for all of the aforementioned delicacies because it is my personal favorite, but of course you should use whichever variety of peanut butter tastes best to you. If you are trying to be as health conscious and natural as possible, then I highly recommend grinding your own peanuts at Whole Foods and then salting it yourself depending on your taste preference and health needs. I advise avoiding varieties of peanut butter that are reduced fat or reduced calories because the manufacturers usually add in other (often unnatural) ingredients to make up for the reduction.