Back to basics
I am of the opinion that peanut butter should resemble, um, peanuts. With this in mind, would you call what you have on your shelf “natural peanut butter”? Following this criteria, would it belong in the whole foods, plant-based (WFPB) diet?
I’d like you to take a good look at the peanut butter you’ve got in your pantry. Stick a knife in it and take a good look.
Once you’ve examined it, can you identify the plant it might have come from originally, meaning can you imagine cracking open a peanut shell, mashing up the nut and spreading it on bread?
Or on the contrary, does it more closely resemble the filling of an industrially produced chocolate sandwich cookie? You know what I’m talking about. Did it originally come from a plant? Possibly. Was it made in a plant? Definitely. Is it a whole food? Negative.
If your peanut butter is so fluffy that it bears no resemblance to a peanut, you’ve got the wrong kind of peanut butter. By the same token, if it has added sugar and oils, you need to move on.
The whole-food, plant-based way
When you are buying peanut butter on the whole food diet, what you are looking for is a product with at most two ingredients: peanuts and salt. What’s more, one ingredient is even better: peanuts. When your peanut butter has just one ingredient, you have peanuts with nothing added and nothing taken away—the way it should be for optimal health.
OK, I know what you’re thinking: it’s gritty and runny. You’re also thinking your kids won’t eat it. In addition to that it’s messy!
However, I think you will be really surprised how much you’ll like the wholesome flavor of natural peanut butter, and I’ve got some great tricks to keep it mess-free.
Mixing natural peanut butter
When most people open a jar of natural peanut butter, they are instantly intimidated by the peanut oil that has separated and risen to the top of the jar. However, don’t be grossed out. Keep in mind that this is the oil that is naturally found in the peanut and simply needs to be reincorporated into the peanut solid.
Don’t reach for a knife to mix it
But don’t reach for that knife or spatula, because if you try that, you’ll get the oil all over the side of the jar and your counter. This may or may not have happened to me in the past. (Every. Single. Time.)
Get yourself a peanut butter crank
The first trick is to get yourself a natural peanut butter mixing crank. I use Grandpa Witmer’s Old Fashioned Mess-Free Nut Butter and Natural Peanut Butter Mixer. Mine fits 16-ounce jars with 3-inch lids which is perfect for my Adams 100% Natural Crunchy Unsalted Peanut Butter, but there are other sizes of crank lids available for other sizes of jars.
Does the mixer work?
Heck, yes. It works swell. I bought mine a couple of years and I’ve used it at least every two weeks since then. It is very durable and washes up well. All you need to do is follow the simple instructions to assemble the crank and screw the crank lid onto your nut butter jar.
Then simply turn the crank for a couple of minutes. At first, you’ll feel resistance, but just keep turning. You can hold the jar upright or lay it on its side on your counter to mix. When you can turn the crank effortlessly, you’re all done.
Nuh-uh. The mixer self-cleans?
Next comes the cool part: the crank self-cleans. To do this, pull the spiral-shaped crank straight up out of the jar. By doing so, the excess peanut butter will remain on the spongy plastic gasket of the mixer. So no mess!
Keep it in the fridge…?
The second trick is how to keep your peanut butter mixed without it separating. The solution to this is as simple as keeping it in the refrigerator. That way it will remain mixed and firm. As long as it doesn’t sit out for hours and reach room temperature, you won’t have to mix it with the crank again, and you’re good to go for the whole jar.
Healthy peanut butter snacks
Now you’re off and running with your natural peanut butter. You’re ready to spread your peanut butter on your favorite whole grain bread or toast, apple slices or celery sticks. You can even try what my daughter swears by: peanut butter on baby carrots. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! You too can rock the whole food, plant-based lifestyle.
Remember though that nut butters are nutrient dense, as well as calorie dense, so try to limit your portion to two tablespoons per day.
For links to wonderful whole food, plant-based books, cookbooks and films, please visit my Resources page.