by Stef Jantz, Food Columnist
From South America, to Asia, across the Atlantic Ocean and back to North America, this item was first introduced to our country in 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair.
It became a source of protein in the first two world wars replacing meat due to the meat shortage. What is this mysterious item? Peanut butter!
Before starting in North America, peanut butter dates back 3,500 years. It is believed to have started in Peru or Brazil since the makings of pottery found were shaped like peanuts, but no fossils have proven otherwise.
However, in 1500 B.C., Incans of Peru used peanuts as sacrificial offerings to aid mummies in the spirit life, and evidence has shown that they were the first to grind peanuts to make peanut butter. Also, tribes in Brazil used crushed peanuts to make a drink with maize (corn).
Now enter the European explorers. They found peanuts during their trip to Brazil and as they continued their exploration, they discovered that peanuts were also growing as far north into Mexico. They then took them back to Europe which eventually spread to Asia and Africa.
Those from Africa then introduced them to North America in the early 1700s, but weren’t grown as crops until the 1800s. Jumping ahead, peanuts started becoming more apparent during the Civil War and both sides used and enjoyed them as a protein source.
Popularity grew big when PT Barnum’s circus introduced them to the crowd as “hot roasted peanuts.” Street vendors caught on and they started selling them at baseball games, but it only starts here for Americans.
In 1895, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, yes, the cereal guy, invented a version of peanut butter for his patients to get their protein if they could not chew meat. Shortly after was when it made its way to the World Fair. With the hype and nutrition benefits, it soon became part of military rations. It’s believed that the army made the pb&j famous since they used it as sustenance during their movements in WWII.
Today, peanut butter has become a staple to many homes and peanuts are the 12th most valuable cash crop in the U.S. So many things you can do with it and it’s amazing to bake with.
Now, let us get to the health part. Of course we know it’s great for protein, not all the amino acids we need out of a protein, but it’s also low in carbs.
It’s great to get your healthy fats like monounsaturated fat, as well as folate, manganese, B6, and copper.
Check out more info on https://www.foundationeducation.edu.au/articles/health-benefits-peanut-butter. But hold up! Not all spreads are created equal. Check those nutrition labels and see what else is added before you buy so you’re not loading up on extra sugars and carbs.
Look for those natural peanut butters to get the most health benefits out of it.
Since we’re in the south where many things are fried or altered to our liking, I’m going to give you the easiest peanut butter cookie recipe. They are melt in your mouth but have a lot of sugar in them, and only four ingredients. Peanut butter, sugar, egg, and baking soda.
That’s it! Mix them all together, roll into balls then in extra sugar, smash them with a fork to get that criss-cross, then bake at 350 for about 6-8 minutes.
Watch them closely since ovens vary and it’s easy to burn these. Cool and enjoy!
1c peanut butter (try a honey pb)
1tsp baking soda