Peanuts are delicious. I can admit this. Some nutritionists and dietitians might even recommend them because they are a quick and easy source of protein. That’s where the benefits end for me, and why I won’t touch the nuts that aren’t even really nuts (they’re legumes).
Peanuts have a few things working against them, more against than for, when it comes to culinary nutrition.
Despite peanuts being a rather dense source of a variety of nutrients, peanuts also run the risk in being high in something called aflotoxins.
What is Aflotoxin?
Peanuts (as a legume) don’t grow on trees like, say, almonds or cashews. They grow underground and are very susceptible to a fungus called Aspergillus, which is a source of aflatoxins. And aflotoxins which are toxic and highly carcinogenic.
Though most studies report that humans are fairly resistant to this toxin in the short run, it’s the long-term studies that have me saying, “When in doubt, keep’em out.” Some studies have shown links between aflotoxin and liver cancer, impairment of growth in children after weaning, and even developmental delays. Combining those factors with the incredibly high allergy rates makes me think there is far more to peanut problems than this one toxin.
There’s Also A Fat Issue
You know I’m a big proponent of getting in loads of dietary fat from clean sources. Peanuts are high in fat, but not the kind we want. 60% of the fat in peanuts is of the omega-6 variety, which in the ratios most of us are getting it, is pro-inflammatory. We don’t need more of that in our lives.
Sure, a little bit of unsweetened, palm oil-free peanut butter, or roasted organic peanuts in small doses is no problem (assuming you have no allergies). But when it comes to culinary nutrition, why waste a bite on “no problem” food when we can swap it in for “super awesomely great” food?
There are so many easy subs for peanuts and peanut butter. They include (in order of substitution preference):
- Sunflower seeds + sunflower butter
- Cashews + cashew butter
- Almonds + almond butter
- Sesame seeds + sesame butter (tahini)
And of course, with any of these, you can create anything you would with peanut butter, hence my no-peanut peanut sauce that I enjoyed over a lazy weekend with some mung bean fettuccine noodles and fresh, lightly steamed asparagus.
Peanut-Free Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup organic coconut milk (or use water or almond milk if you don’t like the coconut taste)
1/2 cup smooth sunflower butter
1/2 teaspoon unprocessed salt
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp coconut sugar
1 clove garlic, peeled, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil (optional)
Place all ingredients in your food processor or blender.
Blend until smooth.
Warm in a small saucepan and mix in with stir-fry, veggies or noodle dish.