Friday, September 19, 2008

Peanut Butter is my Friend

It's true. I heart peanut butter. But our relationship has not always been so rosy. I wish I didn't enjoy peanut butter so much, actually, because of our rocky history. I'm nervous that one spoonful of the glorious stuff will lead to a full-out craze of tongue-to-roof-sticking indulgence. That has not happened recently, thank goodness, which is encouraging and a relief. For a long time I completely swore off peanut butter because it would lead to that sort of eating, which would never make me feel well physically, mentally, or emotionally.

The story doesn't end tragically, though. I'm glad I decided to start eating peanut butter (and peanut butter products) again, even with the potential pitfalls inherent in such a choice. And if I had not started to eat it responsibly once again, I would never have enjoyed wonderful foods like peanut butter stir-fry sauce, various peanut butter flavored granola bars like the chocolate chip peanut crunch Clif Bar, and -- my most recent adventure -- peanut butter mixed into authentic Greek yogurt (you must try this, it's amazing!).

Two peanut butter products that I've been enjoying with particular regularity hail from the cereal department. Nature's Path offers an organic Peanut Butter Granola that is fantastic. I first fell in love with their Pumpkin FlaxPlus, and of course had to try the peanut butter variety when I discovered it. With seven grams of protein, I enjoy stirring one cup of the granola into a cup of fat-free vanilla or maple yogurt with a sliced banana. Yum! Not only is it crunchy and delicious, but you can really taste actual peanut butter, bite into whole peanuts, and even feel the peanut butter's texture on some of the pieces. It makes for a great breakfast, and I have also packed it into Mr. Bento for lunch. This granola is rather dense in terms of calories, though, so you should probably not be too free with it -- three-fourths of a cup contians 260 calories (100 from fat), 11 grams of fat, and 8% of your daily saturated fats. However, it is so tasty and energizing that it's worth it!

Another peanut butter cereal that is a little less calorie-heavy is Barbara's Bakery's peanut butter Puffins. Barabara's Bakery is a sponsor of the Audubon Society's efforts to restore depletied puffin habitats and populations, and I suppose that the Puffins line of cereal is part of that sponsorship. The original Puffins cereal is described as "lightly sweetened corn pillows," and that is very accurate. Just add a light peanut butter taste and you've got the start of a glorious breakfast. I like Puffins by themselves, or stirred into vanilla yogurt with a sliced banana. (Can you tell that I adore bananas and peanut butter together? Add some honey and you've really hit the jackpot!) Just like with the peanut butter granola, the Puffins have found themselves included in my lunch box. I would imagine tha tthey would also make for great snack material, although I haven't put this theory to the test quite yet. The time is coming, though! I'm thinking that an upcoming afternoon, post-work snack will have to be couched in Puffin-y goodness.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King