Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Peanut Butter

I lived for years without having peanut butter in the house, except for the dogs. That has changed in the last few years. Peanut butter is a great source of protein and healthy fats. It has vitamins, anti-oxidants and
resveratrol. It's also fairly inexpensive, has a long shelf life and is easy to prepare. I even stir some into my oatmeal when I add the hot water. The peanut butter dissolves, but adds protein and flavor to my breakfast.

Not all peanut butters are equal, though. As part of my Lenten goal to avoid processed foods, I read labels on foods that I normally just buy. Peanut butter was one item that surprised me. Regular peanut butter has added sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oils. I thought it would just be peanuts and salt. Unsurprisingly, reduced fat peanut butter is a laundry list of additives. Corn syrup, soy and oils are just some of the items added to preserve flavor, but reduce the fat. Worst of all, those changes only save 10 calories per 2 tablespoon serving.

I thought the ingredients of Skippy Natural would be peanuts and salt. Nope. Peanuts, sugar, salt and palm oil. I understand those are all natural, but I still think the name and the marketing is misleading. Jif Natural has sugar and molasses. Simply Jif is sold as a lower sugar variety, but still has added sugar and molasses, and palm oil. Reese's peanut butter doesn't even share their ingredients online, which scares me.

After much label reading, I found that even some organic and high end brands were more than just peanuts and salt. I thought I was going to have to resort to going to Whole Foods and spending a ton of money for some peanut butter. I just found out that Smucker's Natural is just peanuts and salt, but I didn't see that at my grocery stores.

Luckily, I finally found Archer Farms peanut butter with flax seeds. The ingredients are peanuts, salt and flax seeds. Although Archer Farms is the Target private label, Target doesn't have it listed on their site, so I can't find a picture. Yes, the flax seeds are an additive, but not one that's added to cut costs or change the nature of the product. The flax seeds add fiber and protein to the product. Plus, they add some crunch without it being crunchy peanut butter.

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