To learn more about peanut butter, we first need to start with the peanut itself.
Peanuts are native to the tropical regions of the Americas. The Aztecs used to pound the peanuts into a paste that was not nearly as sweet tasting as the ones we find today. It wasn't until George Washington Carver came on the scene that ingredients like molasses and cane sugar were added to give the peanut paste a sweeter and more palatable flavor. By the way, did you know that George Washington Carver came up with 300 different uses for peanuts? Pretty remarkable! Peanut butter as we know it today comes from a US patent issued to Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Montreal, Canada. Edson's process included milling the roasted peanuts between two heated surfaces until they reached "a fluid or semi-fluid state." As the concoction cooled, it entered what Edson described as a consistency similar to "butter, lard or ointment". That doesn't sound too appetizing now does it?! Good thing it tastes pretty delish! There are also some health benefits to eating peanut butter. It may actually protect against cardiovascular disease because of the high levels of monounsaturated fats contained in the peanuty creamy goodness. Peanut butter also contains heaps of protein, vitamins B3 and E plus it has magnesium, folate and dietary fiber. Some brands of peanut butter contain hydrogenated vegetable oils added to make them creamier but this also makes them less healthy. Hydrogenated vegetable oil has been linked to coronary heart disease and strokes. If you are going to eat peanut butter, it's best to stick with the NATURAL kind of peanut butter because those are naturally free of that bad hydrogenated stuff.
Peanut butter has been used in many types of foods such as candies, cookies, ice cream, cakes, brownies, pretzels, stir fry and noodle dishes, sandwiches (peanut butter and banana sandwiches are a personal favorite of mine) and sooooo much more! If you are ready for some peanut butter treats, give this cookie recipe a try!!
Classic Peanut Butter Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- Cream together butter, peanut butter and sugars. Beat in eggs.
- In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir into batter. Put batter in refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Roll into 1 inch balls and put on baking sheets. Flatten each ball with a fork, making a criss-cross pattern. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F oven for about 10 minutes or until cookies begin to brown. Do not over-bake.