When I was a student, I used to eke out my grant (giving my age away!) by eating peanut butter and cream crackers towards the end of term, writes Dr Susan Aldridge, HS guest blogger, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition. Surprisingly, perhaps, peanut butter has been one of my favourite foods ever since! True, it is high in calories and fat but it is far healthier than butter. It contains fibre, protein and a high proportion of unsaturated fat.
You can also get peanut butter made with high oleic acid containing peanuts (two brands readily available in the UK). Oleic acid is the fatty acid found in olive oil and avocado, and it can improve your blood lipid profile, tipping the balance towards ‘healthy’ HDL cholesterol, and away from ‘unhealthy’ LDL cholesterol. There are also peanut butters blended with seeds, which gives an added health boost. Here are three of my ‘go to’ peanut butter recipes, all of which work well a cold February day (the flapjacks would make a nice Valentine’s Day treat).
Peanut butter smoothie
This is a milk-shake type smoothie which is good for days when you are on the go and don’t have time for breakfast or lunch.
225g/400g carton of strawberries or raspberries
One tbsp. peanut butter
250ml almond milk
half-tsp matcha powder
Two tsp. cacao and cinnamon powder
Blend all ingredients and drink immediately.
Ultimate peanut butter sandwich
This combines two ideas. First, a little café I visited in Crouch End (Hot Pepper Jelly) does a range of sandwiches with peanut butter and chilli jam. Second, I saw a colleague combine avocado and Marmite last week…it works well. Finish off with something fresh/crunchy. I used alfalfa sprouts but you could have cucumber, tomato, watercress… We had this for dinner, with a salad last Saturday night.
Two slices of your favourite fresh bread
Sliced avocado, lightly mashed
Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread, chilli jam on the other. Layer the avocado, Marmite and sprouts. Eat with soup or salad for a main meal. Also works as a packed lunch if you slip in the avocado layer just before you eat it.
Peanut butter flapjacks
Makes 12–14 flapjacks
Classic flapjacks – oats, sugar, syrup and butter – are great, but taste too sweet. I did a bit of recipe research to see if it’s possible to replace at least some of the sugar/syrup without affecting texture or taste. You could also experiment with replacing the butter, maybe with coconut oil, and using banana or apple instead of the sugar.
200g ‘sugar’ – I used coconut flavoured Choc Shot, which is a fruit syrup with cacao, but there are many other options.
100g golden syrup (a ‘bad’ ingredient, I know, but I had some in the cupboard that needed using up)
100g peanut butter
450g oats (I used oats combined with flax, pumpkin and linseeds)
One tbsp. cacao with cinnamon
Melt butter, add syrup, peanut butter and ‘sugar’, Stir in oats and cacao, Bake at 180˚C for 25 min. Cool and cut into pieces.
Next time. Some seasonal recipes to welcome spring.