The powerhouse of protein

Don’t underestimate the power of the peanut.

Give me some peanuts: Peanuts are good food for people plagued with cholesterol problems and diabetes.

By Donna Zitter Bordelon

Elephants have a penchant for them. Sometimes, it’s a word used for what Uncle Sam gives you back at tax time. Their shells pepper bleachers in the baseball park. The pee-wee set considers them to be processed gourmet fare. (I have to agree with that assessment.) They’re good food for people plagued with cholesterol problems and diabetes (with a low glycemic index, they don’t cause blood sugar to rise sharply). Although the name implies something small, there’s nothing petite or paltry about this powerhouse of protein — the peanut.

Unlike the almond, Brazil nut, cashew, pistachio, pecan or walnut, the peanut is not botanically a true nut. The peanut is a member of the legume family, and it is a cousin to the bean and the pea. Peanuts grow underground in pods and are really edible, mature seeds. They are also known as goobers, groundnuts, earth nuts, monkey nuts and ground peas. Peanuts are rich in the B-complex vitamins.

Peruvian excavations show there were peanut eaters around in 2000–3000 BC, but peanuts were probably cultivated earlier in parts of Bolivia and Argentina. Around 1500, the Portuguese brought peanuts to Africa. In turn, African slaves brought the peanut to this country.

Peanuts are used mostly for their oil in other parts of the world, and they produce about one-sixth of the world’s vegetable oil. However, the United States uses about one-half of its peanut crop to make peanut butter. This spread was the premier health food in 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair, and it remains an important staple for young and old “youngsters” alike.

Peanut butter is easy to make at home. The peanuts disappear into a spread that contains no additives or hydrogenated fat stabilizers. Commercial peanut butter makers may remove the heart or kernel of the peanut to sell as bird feed. When you use “whole grain” peanuts to make a homemade spread, you get these kernels and their extra vitamins, minerals and proteins, instead of the birds.

HOMEMADE PEANUT BUTTER

1 cup shelled, roasted, salted peanuts

1 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. oil (any neutral-flavored oil — such as canola, sunflower or peanut oil)

Put peanuts and honey into a food processor/blender and allow to process until peanuts begin to form a spread (1–2 minutes).

Stop processor, scrape down sides and bottom.

Add the oil through the feed tube, and process 2–3 minutes more, or until the spread reaches your desired consistency.

Note: If you prefer a more moist spread, add a little more oil or honey. If you use unsalted nuts, add salt to taste. Refrigerate. Keeps for a few weeks.

Last week’s column featured a peanut butter/jelly pie. Here is the recipe for the crust, as promised.

CHOCOLATE GRAHAM COCONUT CRUST

1/3 box of chocolate graham crackers (1¼ cup crumbs)

1 Tbsp. sugar

6 Tbsp. butter, melted

1/4 cup coconut

Lightly butter a 9-inch pie plate.

Crush graham crackers into crumbs using processor/blender or a rolling pin.

In a bowl, mix together the crumbs and sugar.

Add butter and coconut. Thoroughly combine.

Put crumb-butter mixture into prepared pie plate, spreading and firmly pressing to evenly distribute across the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate.

Eat well, live long, enjoy!

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Times, 2 Executive Campus, Suite 400, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002)

Recipe Winner:

Congratulations to Linda Sinclair, who submitted her grandmother’s recipe, and was chosen in a random drawing. Linda is the March winner of a $100 ShopRite gift card.

QUICHE

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup half & half

2 eggs

2 Tbsp. flour

8 oz. Swiss cheese

1/3 cup diced onion

1 cup of your choice: crab meat, ham, mushrooms, bacon or spinach 1 unbaked crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix the mayonnaise, half & half, eggs and flour.

Stir in the cheese and onion and mix well.

Stir in your choice addition.

Pour into unbaked pie crust.

Bake for 45 minutes.

The recipe submissions have been wonderful. Please remember to include exact measurements in your recipes. You could be April’s lucky winner. Send your recipe to:

Readers’ Recipes

c/o Northeast Times

2 Executive Campus

Suite 400

Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

Or email your recipe to WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com.

Please include your name, home address and telephone number. ••