10 Unexpected, Lower Calorie Peanut Butter Snacks
By JESS BARRON
According to the National Peanut Board, peanut butter is consumed in 90% of U.S. households and the average American consumes more than six pounds of peanuts and peanut butter each year. Nationwide, Americans collectively eat over 1.5 billion pounds of peanut butter annually — that’s enough peanut butter to make more than 10 billion peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!
Along with pumpkin pie, peanut butter is another food that contains some decent nutritional value (peanuts are a good source of vitamin E, folic acid and protein) but can also be a danger to your diet due to caloric density and high fat content.
As someone who used to eat peanut butter out of the jar by the spoonful and nosh on bagels slathered with peanut butter and honey, I'm here to tell you that there are wrong ways and right ways to eat peanut butter!
During a Beachbody test group for a new fitness program, I lost 20 pounds (see my “Before” and “After” photos). In addition to working out 6 days a week, my fellow test-group participants and I ate according to the guidelines of the program’s meal plan. Essentially, we were on a calorie-restricted, high-protein diet.
It may surprise you to hear that peanut butter (and other delicious nut butters, including sunflower seed butter and almond butter) appeared on our menus as snacks 2-3 times per week during the second month of the test group. Alas, it probably does not come as a surprise to you that we were not eating it out of the jar or smearing it on bagels!
What were the secrets of the peanut butter treats in the diet plan that allowed us to lose weight?
1. The first — and most important secret — was that the peanut butter (and other nut butters) in all snacks was always portioned out immediately into two tablespoon-serving sizes. No eating directly from the jar, ever!
2. The foods we were given to dip in the peanut butter and nut butters may surprise you. Many people are used to dipping crackers or apple slices into peanut butter. In this test-group meal plan, the participants were directed to avoid consuming refined carbohydrates such as crackers and breads. In addition, we were lowering our daily sugar intake by only eating a small amount of fruit immediately following our workouts each day. Consequently, I was introduced to some new potential partners in crime for peanut butter that I had never thought of. From raw baby carrots and raw zucchini slices, paired alongside a small ramekin containing two tablespoons of organic natural peanut butter to jicama sticks with two tablespoons of sunflower seed butter, I was shocked at how tasty and treat-like raw vegetables could be.
3. In the test-group diet, we always ate organic, natural peanut butter. Unlike processed or commercial peanut butter, organic peanut butter does not contain hydrogenated fat or trans fats, which raise your bad cholesterol and increase your risk of diabetes. What’s more, a 2006 study conducted by Wake Forest University, concluded that a high intake of trans fats can cause weight gain, particularly in the stomach area. You may be wondering, “Why is organic important?” Certified organic peanuts are produced without pesticides, bioengineering or irradiation, whereas conventionally grown peanuts are covered in pesticides. Because peanuts have a thin, porous skin, they absorb a high amount of pesticides. The pesticides used on conventional peanuts are known cancer-causing agents, hormone disruptors and neurotoxins. If all that doesn’t sound bad enough to you, endocrine-disrupting pesticides have been linked to weight gain. So, choosing organic foods can help you lose weight.
4. You may have heard of PB2 powdered peanut butter. It’s made by slow-
10 Unexpected, Lower Calorie Ways to Enjoy Peanut Butter:
1. The New PB&J: Peanut Butter & Jicama Sticks (177 calories) Everyone has probably tried peanut butter with celery sticks. But I’ve never been a fan of celery, because it’s so stringy and it gets caught in my teeth. Enter jicama, peanut butter’s new partner in crime! Jicama is a root vegetable and when sliced, it has a crispy texture similar to apples, though it’s less sweet. Jicama is high in vitamins C, A and B, along with calcium and phosphorus.
2. PB&BC: Peanut Butter & Baby Carrots(193 calories) Peanut butter helps make snacking on baby carrots more fun, filling and satisfying. This has become one of my go-to snacks, I portion it out in Tupperware on the weekends and stack ‘em in the refrigerator and bring one to the office with me each day to help stop me from snacking on other junk food that would be less nutritious.
3. PBY: Peanut Butter Greek Yogurt(125 calories) Peanut butter yogurt may sound weird, but if you ever wanted to eat something that tastes like a half cup of creamy peanut butter, here’s your chance to do it! I used Betty Lou’s Just Great Stuff Organic Powered Peanut Butter, but you can use PB2 also. I used The Greek Gods plain non-fat yogurt. As a variation, mix the peanut butter into strawberry fruit on the bottom or fig yogurt for peanut butter and jelly yogurt.
4. Peanut Butter and Jelly on Crack(128 calories) Sometimes I crave a peanut-butter sandwich, but then I remind myself that one PB&J sandwich contains about 350 calories. PBJ on crack(ers) gives you all the rush of flavor in a less-filling snack.
5. PB&O – Peanut Butter Steel Cut Oatmeal (215 calories) Add some protein to your oatmeal to make it more filling. I used Betty Lou’s Just Great Stuff Organic Powered Peanut Butter, but you can use PB2 or even regular peanut butter.
6. PB&C Chocolate Shakeology (185 calories) I eat Shakeology for breakfast practically every day. (Full disclosure: I used to work at Beachbody, and I got hooked on the stuff.) It’s tasty and it keeps you full and gives you energy for several hours on less than 200 calories. Plus, it has tons of vitamins and nutrients. Peanut butter and Chocolate Shakeology is, by far, my favorite Shakeology recipe.
7. PB&G Greenberry Shakeology (262 calories) Some people shy away from Greenberry Shakeology because of its vibrant green color. Once you get past the color, the flavor is something like a sweet berry. When I’m making this shake, I have been known to start jumping around and singing “Peanut butter and jelly time!” (If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, watch the video below.)
8. No-Bake Peanut Butter Shakeology Cookies (118 calories per cookie) – One of my co-workers at Beachbody made a batch of these No-Bake Peanut Butter Shakeology Cookies. They took only minutes to make, and they were delicious. I made sure they left only one cookie on my desk and took the whole plate of cookies far away from me, because otherwise I might have eaten more!
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cooking Time: 0 minutes
Yield: 1 cookie
* 1 cup natural peanut butter
* 1 cup organic quick cooking rolled oats
* 1/2 cup organic raw honey
* 1 cup Chocolate Shakeology
1. Combine peanut butter, honey, oats and Shakeology in medium bowl. Mix well.
2. Roll 24 balls, each the size of 1 tbsp.
3. Flatten each slightly so takes on the shape of a cookie.
4. No baking is needed. Enjoy your cookie!
9. Peanut Butter & Mango "Sushi" (59 calories per piece) I love mangoes, and I love getting creative with food. I found this recipe on the Kitchn blog, where they have photos showing step-by-step how to make it. If mangoes are not in season, you can also try this recipe using sliced apples.
10. Peanut Butter, Banana, and Turkey Bacon Open-Face Sandwich (313 calories) Sometimes you may crave something truly over-the-top with the perfect blend of salty and sweet, and sometimes, just sometimes, it’s worth giving in. Since you made it all the way down to #10 on the list, this is the big payoff. Think of it as a healthier, less fattening version of Elvis’s favorite sandwich. Elvis used 2 slices of white bread; you’ll use one slice of organic sprouted whole grain bread, such as Ezekiel 4:9. Elvis used regular bacon; you’ll use organic turkey bacon. Elvis used Skippy peanut butter; you’ll use natural organic peanut butter with no trans fats. It still tastes decadent and amazing, worthy of a king — or queen.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 minute
Yield: 1 open face sandwich
* 1 slice Ezekiel sprouted grain bread
* 1 1/2 tablespoon organic peanut butter
* 2 slices organic turkey bacon
* 1/2 tablespoon organic raw honey
1. Cook the turkey bacon in a frying pan or in the microwave between paper towels until crispy.
2. Toast the slice of bread.
3. Spread the peanut butter on the bread.
4. Lay the cooked turkey slices over the bananas.
5. Drizzle honey on top of the bacon.
Hope you enjoy these recipes. If you make them, let me know how they came out. Also, if you have other favorite peanut butter recipes, please tweet ‘em to me: @jessdandy I’d love to hear from you.
Jess Barron is LIVESTRONG.COM’s Editor-in-Chief. Read some of her other health and fitness articles here. A longtime foodie and fan of Farmer’s Market food, Jess particularly loves heirloom tomatoes, fresh figs with burrata cheese, and anything with pumpkin or peanut butter in it! Her love for food fuels her desire to exercise daily. Some of her favorite workout routines include running, yoga, P90X, INSANITY, STRONGER and mixed martial arts. Jess’s writing can also be found at Poprocks.com. She has appeared on MSNBC’s “The Most,” ABC News Now, and XM satellite radio and her writing has appeared on Wired.com and Yahoo!