Few foods come close to peanut butter in terms of being a diet staple. Not only is it versatile enough to be included in a variety of different cuisines, but it’s also widely accessible across the world. Plus, it’s actually pretty healthy for you. “Peanut butter contains all three macronutrients and vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, copper and manganese,” says Julia Denison, a registered dietitian.
You may already have some favorite ways to include this nut butter in your diet. Here, registered dietitians share their go-to ways to eat peanut butter, so you can expand your repertoire.
ON CLASSIC PB&J
“The classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich tastes great and is a great pre-workout snack,” Denison says. “The nostalgia of the sandwich keeps bringing me back!” Opt for one of these dietitian-approved, store-bought breads for the most nutrition bang for your buck.
IN STIR-FRY SAUCE
“This is one of my favorite savory uses for peanut butter,” says Cara Harbstreet, RD. “Stir-fries are a staple because they deliver at least two or three types of vegetables, a protein (plant- or animal-based), and a carbohydrate when served with rice or noodles.” But what brings it together, Harbstreet notes, is a flavorful sauce, and that’s where peanut butter can really shine.
“Gather a creamy or crunchy peanut butter, low-sodium soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, garlic and chili peppers, and whisk together,” Harbstreet says. “You can add some warm water for a thinner consistency, plus it’s easy to adjust the flavors or spice level to your preference.” Bonus: Save any leftovers to use as a dipping sauce for veggies.
ADDED TO OATMEAL
“From lowering cholesterol to helping with weight management, there are lots of reasons to add oats to your diet,” points out Ellie Harlow, a registered dietitian. “However, a common mistake that I see people making is they forget to add protein and healthy fat to their oatmeal. Without protein and fat, oatmeal on its own is not a balanced meal and can leave you feeling hungry shortly after eating.”
The fix: Add peanut butter to your oats to boost their nutrient content. “It’s a delicious way to flavor oatmeal without having to add sugar, not to mention it adds to the creaminess and satisfaction factor,” Harlow says.
IN ENERGY BITES
“I love making peanut butter energy bites by mixing peanut butter with flaxseeds, old-fashioned oats, honey, chocolate chips and coconut,” says Ellen Albertson, a registered dietitian. “These are great for my clients who want healthy snacks for themselves or their kids.”
WITH A FROZEN BANANA AND DARK CHOCOLATE
One of registered dietitian Bill Bradley’s favorite snacks is a frozen banana with dark chocolate and peanut butter. Simply slice and freeze the banana ahead of time. Then melt some dark chocolate and peanut butter together. “Add a smidge of butter and dip the bananas in and freeze again,” Bradley instructs. “That is some serious goodness.”
STIRRED INTO GREEK YOGURT
This is a delicious way to boost low or nonfat Greek yogurt with some healthy fats, notes Marissa Meshulam, a registered dietitian. “I love adding cacao nibs as well to make it chocolate peanut buttery.”
IN YOUR SMOOTHIE
“Include peanut butter in your breakfast smoothie to add protein and keep you feeling full longer,” suggests Laura Isaacson, senior lead dietitian at Vida Health. “Smoothies are a go-to breakfast choice for many because they’re quick and easy to make. Experiment with different recipes including your favorite fruit, yogurt, peanut butter and milk for a nutritious way to start your day.” If you’re not sure where to start, try this peanut butter green smoothie.
MIXED WITH HUMMUS
It might sound weird, but it tastes really good. “Mix hummus with creamy peanut butter in a one-to-one ratio to create a dip that is packed with protein,” Isaacson recommends. “Dip your favorite veggies, like carrots, peppers or tomatoes to add even more nutrients and fiber.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
Whether you go for a classic like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or try something new like swirling peanut butter with hummus, peanut butter is one of the most flexible pantry staples.
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