By Pip Spence
Like most things these days, peanut butter ranges in price and quality. You should read the label of everything you buy, and the key thing to look out for here is the addition of palm oil, which is used to stop peanut butter from naturally splitting.
Palm oil has caused massive debate in terms of environmental damage. The production of the oil has also been blamed for destroying palm tree forests in Asia, killing wildlife and damaging the ecosystem. You can side step these issues simply by buying peanut butter without palm oil. All it means is you’ll have to stir it before using it!
Peanut butter was a rare treat for me growing up as everyone else in the house preferred more traditional breakfast mates. It’s probably for the best, as it is quite high in saturated fat! Still, I would sneak it in the shopping trolley on occasion and then, once it was stored safely in the back of the kitchen cupboard, I would keep going back for sneaky spoonfuls on my toast with apricot jam or even in a cheese sandwich. Yes these were desperate times for a child growing up watching American High School dramas as ‘exotic’ sounding smores and salt water taffy were out of the question!
Being such a peanut butter lover, over the years I’ve used it in all kinds of things. It doesn’t just go in sandwiches…
Quick satay sauce
To make a dipping sauce for chicken satay or to mix in a creamy Thai style curry, mix 2 tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter with a good splash of coconut milk to make a paste. Gently heat a small saucepan with 1 teaspoon smoked chilli paste. Take off the heat, leave to cool then stir in a splash of rice wine vinegar.
Peanut butter icing
Mix smooth peanut butter with a little milk, stir in enough icing sugar to thicken again and spread over cupcakes or banana loaf.
A great snack to break up the monotony of working or studying (with out the guilt) is celery and carrot sticks or apple wedges dipped in a tablespoon of good-quality peanut butter – it gives you a real energy boost. And if you’re allergic to peanut butter there are other options – you can buy hazelnut and almond butter too!