Jena DeMoss: The power of peanuts — time to get cooking!

Published 6:04 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2023

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Trail mix, peanut butter and jam sandwich, or just a handful of peanuts — these are all great ways to eat peanuts and peanut butter. This versatile legume can be used in many ways, and not just as part of a snack. Peanuts, unlike many other plants, flower above the ground, but grow the nuts underground. 

This unique trait allows the peanut plant to impart valuable nutrients back into the soil in which it grows. Also adding to its value as a sustainable crop is the fact that peanut plants require a fraction of the amount of water to produce good yield that many other nuts do. This means that you can feel good about including this tasty ingredient in your regular diet. 

Peanuts are also packed with important nutrients to help fuel your body. Peanuts are a good source of quality protein (7g per serving), as well as contain more than 30 essential vitamins and minerals including Vitamin E and niacin. Peanuts are also a good source of fiber and healthy fats, which can help you feel fuller longer as well as provide your body with essential building blocks. The research in support of peanuts as a regular part of your healthy eating habit is overwhelmingly positive. Peanuts and peanut foods bring together the three most important decision factors for everyone to make better food choices: nutrition, cost and most importantly, taste!

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Peanuts and peanut butter can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Below are just some of the ways that peanuts or peanut butter can be used in the kitchen:

• Butter substitute: A 50/50 mix of peanut butter and oil can be used instead of butter in baking.

• Dessert: Use peanut butter to make a cool popsicle or use warm peanut butter or crushed peanuts as a topping on your favorite dessert.

• Smoothies: Throw some creamy peanut butter into a blender with your favorite fruit for some added protein in a great smoothie.

• Salad dressing: Whisk some peanut butter into a salad dressing recipe to give a sweet and salty kick to your summer salad.

• Marinades: Peanut butter makes a great addition to marinades, especially for an Asian twist to your grilled, roasted or sautéed proteins.

To recap — Peanuts bring protein, good fats and important nutrients like niacin, Vitamin E, and fiber to the plate, just to name a few.  For a fun and new way of incorporating both peanuts and peanut butter into your meals, try this Moroccan-Style Chickpea Bowl recipe.

One Skillet Moroccan-Style Chickpea Bowl

 All you need

• 2 tsp Hy-Vee HealthMarket refined coconut oil

• 1 clove garlic, minced

• 2 (15-oz each) no-salt-added garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

• 1½ cups Hy-Vee vegetable stock

• ½ cup Hy-Vee chunky peanut butter

• 1½ tsp smoked paprika

• ½ tsp Hy-Vee cumin

• ¼ tsp Hy-Vee cinnamon

• 2 tsp curry powder

• Kosher salt

• 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into ½-inch strips

• ¼ small red onion, chopped

• 1 (10-oz) pkg Hy-Vee Steam Quick frozen brown rice

• Fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

• Hy-Vee salted peanuts, chopped (optional)

All you do

1. In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat; add garlic. Add garbanzo beans and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until they turn light golden brown.

2. Remove skillet from heat, add stock; stir in peanut butter. Add in paprika, cumin, cinnamon and curry powder. Place skillet back on heat and scrape off baked-on bits. Stir until heated through. Remove from heat. Season, to taste, with kosher salt.

3. Serve chickpea mixture over bell pepper strips, red onion and brown rice, cooked according to package instructions. 4. Garnish with cilantro and chopped peanuts, if desired. 

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