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OTHER ITA SITES:
A Passion For Peanut Butter
I have always loved peanut butter. Nothing excites me more than sinking my teeth into the gooey stuff. And a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is enough to chase my blues away.
Many people share my passion for peanut butter. I'm not the only one nuts about it. In fact, it's a perennial favorite among the young and old alike. Kids like their peanut butter creamy while adults generally prefer theirs crunchy.
"Americans go through 800 million pounds of peanut butter a year. That's enough to slather a sticky aromatic layer over every school playground in the country. Being sensible folk, we eat it instead. Around three pounds a year per person. Three big rapturous, redolent, peanutty pounds," according to Mary Roach in Hippocrates magazine.
Other people probably don�t share the American obsession for peanut butter but they are catching up as evidenced by the number of brands in supermarkets today. There are two ways of enjoying peanut butter: the regular type is made up of at least 90 percent roasted peanuts with a dash of sweeteners and salt that makes up the remaining 10 percent.
Hydrogenated vegetable oil is usually added to the mixture to keep the peanut oil from separating. To make the mixture chunky, a couple of crunchy peanut bits are added for variation.
"Natural" or old-fashioned peanut butter is made of 100 percent ground-up peanuts with no additives. This explains why some brands are oily. In the absence of stabilizers, natural oil rises to the top of the jar but this does not denote inferior quality. Slow stirring with a strong knife will help mix the oil with the rest of the stuff.
What's so special about peanut butter? A lot. The sticky stuff is not only cheap but a good source of cholesterol-free protein. Your kids may not always like eating meat, poultry, or fish. But most of them love peanut butter sandwiches which have about the same amount of protein as the above foods.
"Peanuts are legumes; they're actually closer to beans than nuts. Peanuts, however, contain twice the protein of cooked dry beans. A sandwich-size three-tablespoon serving of peanut butter contains 135 grams of protein - about the amount in two eggs or a 12-ounce glass of milk," Roach said.
"Like other beans, peanuts are also a commendable source of dietary fiber. Three tablespoons of peanut butter contain around four grams of fiber - about as much as in a couple of slices of whole wheat bread. Smear those table�spoons on the bread with some jam (rich in pectin, another kind of fiber), and you've got nearly as much fiber as you'd get from a bowl of high-fiber breakfast cereal," she added.
What does this mean? To the billions suffering from malnutrition, peanut butter could be the savior they're looking for. This inexpensive yet rich source of protein can certainly go a long way in alleviating the hunger of almost 200 million children under five years old who have protein-energy malnutrition � 150 million of who come from Asia.
Critics point out that peanut butter is rich is fat that could lead to obesity and a host of diseases. How true is this? Find out in the second part of this series.
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