PB2: As if Peanut Butter Wasn’t Perfect Enough
In the parlance of the “Paradox of Choice,” I would be considered a “satisficer” rather than an “optimizer.” That is, if something is good enough for me, then it’s good enough for me. I don’t spend lots of time trying to shine the brass doorknobs or seek out an elusive greener grass on the other side.
Which is why it never occurred to me that peanut butter could be–or needed to be–improved upon. Peanut butter is about as close to a perfect food as I can imagine. Delicious. Loved by toddlers and octagenarians alike. Inexpensive. Nutritious. Naturally high protein and low-carb. Satisfying even in small portions. Vegan. Kosher. Generally non-perishible at room temperature. Short ingredient list: just peanuts and salt. Even relatively more processed versions that contain some stablizing fats and a hint of sugar are still extremely nutritious and not measurably different from the least processed versions. How many other foods can boast these same claims?
There is, however, one problem with peanut butter. And the problem with peanut butter is that so many people have a problem with peanut butter. As in, several of my clients who want to lose weight can’t keep it in the house because they’re too tempted to eat tablespoons of it straight from the jar. Heart-healthy and diabetic-friendly as peanut butter may be, a small portion goes a long way calorie-wise. It broke my heart to have to advise these clients to steer clear of satisfying, low-glycemic peanut butter because it might get the better of them. Who am I to deny others the pleasure that is peanut butter?
I recently heard about a new product called PB2 when a dietitian friend of mine tweeted about it. I checked it out and discovered that some clever folks at Bell Plantation had gotten the idea to squeeze the bejesus out of peanuts until they’d removed 85% of the fat, and then market the remaining powdery peanut pulp as a Powdered Peanut Butter product. Note that this is VERY different than other “reduced fat” peanut butters you may have come across on the market. Those other products take out some of the peanuts and replace them with… SUGAR… in the appetizing form of corn syrup solids. Not only is this a nutritionally bankrupt swap (trading out the heart-healthy fat from peanuts with heart-unhealthy sugar), it doesn’t necessarily even result in fewer calories! Reduced fat Jif has the same number of calories as regular; Reduced Fat Skippy has 10 fewer per serving.
A 2 TBSP portion of PB2 has 45 calories, compared to the ~200 calories found in a comparable portion of regular peanut butter. For 150 fewer calories per serving than conventional peanut butter, PB2 is a very viable food option for even my clients trying to lose weight. The company also makes a CHOCOLATE version (I guess because regular peanut butter isn’t addictive enough?), which thankfully has the same number of calories per serving and a still-very reasonable 3g of sugar.
PB2’s powdered form lends itself beautifully for inclusion in smoothies or in cooked recipes (pancakes come to mind), though if you’re partial to a traditional PB&J, you can either reconstitute the powder into a spread by mixing 2 TBSPs PB2 with 1 TBSP water, or just mixing the powder directly with jelly. If you like peanut butter on apple or banana as a snack, you could even toss sliced fruit into a ziploc with up to 4 TBSP of PB2 and still come out of it without exceeding 150 calories– a very portable snack at a very appropriate calorie level indeed! If you’re trying to squeeze the sugar out of your diet but just can’t get used to plain yogurt instead of fruit flavored ones, try adding PB2 and some mashed banana to a plain yogurt and seeing if THAT doesn’t make the transition easier. The company’s website is loaded with recipes— though be warned, some of the reported calorie levels appear dubious to me. Use your judgment.
And: if you’ve invented any brilliant applications for PB2 in your repertoire, leave a comment and share the inspiration!
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