Family Features | 3/4/2010, 5 p.m.
It can be tough to maintain healthy eating habits and a hectic schedule. But one little ingredient can add great flavor and keep you energized for the busy day ahead.
With seven grams per serving, peanuts have more protein than any other nut. Protein provides long-lasting energy - just what you need to keep going throughout the day. Peanuts and peanut butter contribute more than 30 nutrients and phytonutrients and can be part of a balanced diet that promotes good health. In addition, foods low on the glycemic index (GI), such as peanuts, are good choices for people trying to watch their blood sugar. Eating foods with a low GI score (peanuts score a 14) may lead to a slow increase in blood sugar levels, causing less insulin to be released all at once, and thus avoiding the sugar "crash."
The National Peanut Board has some tips to show you how to add energy-boosting USA-grown peanuts to your daily diet.
-Involve your children in meal planning and preparation so they can learn about healthy eating habits and good nutrition. Experiment with kid-friendly recipes, such as Flag-Waving Peanut Butter Cookies and PB&J French "Toastwich," which can be found at nationalpeanutboard.org.
-Keep a can of peanuts handy to munch on while working around the house, reading with your children or watching television.
-Make a batch of Munch 'N' Go Mix - a quick trail mix with dried fruit, peanuts and chocolate - to keep on hand. Put single servings into resealable plastic bags and you have a great, on-the-go snack ready all the time.
-Ask your place of employment to provide peanuts as a snack option - they'll keep your energy up to get more accomplished.
-Keep a jar of peanut butter and a spoon in your desk drawer for midday cravings. For something new and different, try one of the many flavored peanut butters on the market.
-Be on the lookout for the many delicious peanut/peanut butter menu items now available at some of your favorite restaurants in appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts.
-More than 1,000 new products with peanuts or peanut butter have been created during the past five years. Have you found a favorite yet?
On the road
-Store a pack of peanuts and a jar of peanut butter in the glove box for a crunchy and satisfying treat.
-Stop by a roadside stand or produce market and buy some homemade roasted or boiled peanuts - you can even make them at home.
-Two-ounce peanut butter travel packs from companies such as Sunland and Jif are easy-to-pack, portion-controlled snacks for travel. Try pairing them with freshly sliced fruit and vegetables.
For more delicious ways to get energized, visit nationalpeanutboard.org.
Dazzling Chocolate Peanut Butter Dip
Makes 4 servings (each serving = 3 tablespoons dip and 1 cup fruit/veggies)
1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon chocolate or colored sprinkles
4 cups fresh fruit and vegetables cut in "dip-able" shapes (carrots sticks, sliced cucumbers, celery sticks, sliced apples and pears.)
In a standing mixing bowl, mix yogurt and chocolate syrup on medium speed until well blended.
In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the peanut butter at 70% power for about 1 minute or until melted; stir half-way through. Pour peanut butter into chocolate yogurt mixture and mix until smooth.
For each serving, spoon 3 tablespoons dip into a small serving cup and sprinkle with sprinkles. Serve with one cup of fresh fruit and/or vegetables.
Note: This dip may also be served with pretzels or spread on graham crackers.
Nutrients per serving: Calories, 194 (38% from fat); Fat, 9g (saturated 2g, monounsaturated 4g, polyunsaturated 2g); Protein, 6g; Carbohydrates, 26g; Fiber, 4g; Cholesterol, 2mg; Calcium, 64mg
Munch 'N' Go Mix
Makes: 14 servings (1/2 cup per serving)
2 cups roasted peanuts
2 cups banana chips
1 cup chopped mixed dried fruit (apricots, apples, pineapple, papaya)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup candy-coated chocolate pieces
Toss all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 months.
Nutrients per serving: Calories, 383 (55% from fat); Carbohydrates, 39g; Protein, 7g; Fat, 25g; Cholesterol, 2mg; Fiber, 5g; Sodium, 24mg
Peanut Berry Smoothie
Yield: 2 (8-ounce) servings
2 cups low fat vanilla ice cream
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons 2% milk
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons whipped cream (optional)
Combine all ingredients in blender; puree until very smooth.
Transfer to two glasses and serve.
Nutrients per serving: Calories, 431 (47% from fat); Fat, 24g (saturated 8g, monounsaturated 8g, polyunsaturated 5g); Protein, 15g; Carbohydrates, 45g; Fiber, 4g; Cholesterol, 61mg; Calcium, 152mg