OlderBeast addresses vital topics like lifelong fitness, nutrition, happiness…and now, peanut butter.
Granted, this post might not be non-life-changing (unless you eat a lot of peanut butter and if so, hopefully it will be). But for those of us who eat “natural” or “old fashioned” peanut butter, stirring together the peanut/oil separation when you first open a jar is a messy PAIN.
If you know this already, feel free to skip the next section and get to the solution! If not, please invest 60 seconds to read this in its entirety – you’re here anyway, man.
Natural Peanut Butter: Context
First off, peanut butter is a great contributor to a man’s nutrition program. Walnuts, almonds and pistachios each have strong benefits, too, so this isn’t recommending it over them. But peanut butter is convenient, affordable, high-protein, filling…and tasty. Yes, it’s pretty caloric, so watch quantity if you’re carefully managing weight.
And you should use natural peanut butter. Why? Natural peanut butter has one ingredient (peanuts)…or two if you get the salted kind like I do (it’s just a little bit of salt).
“Normal” peanut butter has added sugar, and hydrogenated oils that prevent oil separation in the jar. Those are two bad ingredients for an OlderBeast seeking health.
So what’s the downside of natural?
When you first open a jar, there’s layer of pure peanut oil floating on top of the peanut butter below. The directions say “stir, then refrigerate” – doesn’t sound like a big deal.
But the peanut butter layer is pretty firm (without its natural oil blended in), and the physical stirring effort often causes the oil layer to splash over the top of the jar, down the jar’s sides, onto your hands and the kitchen counter. That’s the “pain” part (and hence the paper towel you’ll notice in the image above).
It might not sound like much, but everyone I know who uses natural peanut butter hates this.
Here’s the solution I figured out – just recently, after a decade or so of dealing with the low-grade pain described above.
Firstly, do not refrigerate the jar before opening – keep it in the cabinet.
1. When you first open the jar, pour most of the “floating” oil layer into a coffee cup or small bowl, and keep it handy
2. Stir up the remaining peanut butter, the smaller amount of oil and (for “crunchy” variations – my favorite) the small bits of peanuts
3. From the mixed stuff in the jar, use your first serving of peanut butter onto a sandwich, with an apple, or see my favorite 30-second peanut butter lunch concoction (below)
4. Then, once you’ve reduced the quantity in the jar via this first serving, pour the rest of the oil back into the jar and stir everything up…with more vertical “safety space” above the level of the jar’s contents
Now refrigerate and use the rest of the jar, being happy that you didn’t spill oil all over the place as that jar’s inaugural act!
Simplest Awesome Peanut Butter Recipe: “PBJ &B” Burrito
My family thinks I’m goofy for doing this (they have other reasons, too). But I love it: the peanut butter, jelly, and banana burrito.
Take a whole wheat tortilla. Put a generous strip of peanut butter from one edge, through the center point, and most of the way toward the other edge (like a diameter line, but only making it about 75 or 80% of the way across the tortilla).
Now put a thin line of fruit preserves alongside the peanut butter. There is refined sugar in this, even if you have “sweetened with fruit juice concentrate” preserves, so don’t use much. Or, use honey which is a healthier sweetener, even a “super food” according to some.
Now, lay a whole peeled banana on top of your PB&J strip
Fold over the not-covered part of the tortilla and wrap up like a burrito
There you have it. In this “burrito,” you have healthy fats and protein from the peanut butter; healthy carbs and fiber from the tortilla; and healthy carbs, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C and anti-oxidants from the banana. Note: a banana toward the greener/less-ripe end of the spectrum is a little better for you.
It was super-quick to make, easy to eat, and filling enough that you shouldn’t need any other lunch at that time. You’ll be ready for a mid-afternoon snack, which is a good idea within many guys’ daily routine, especially if you exercise after work.
Just as the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, the path to sustainable nutrition starts with finding specific, healthy things you like to eat and can easily prepare. In that quest, I hope the humble peanut, and this humble post, are helpful.
“I’ve got some groceries, some peanut butter, to last a couple of days.” (Talking Heads, Life During Wartime — click to listen)