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Eating Well: Peanut butter nutritional, well-rounded baking ingredient

Peanut butter is one of America's favorite foods and what better time to showcase the familiar food product and some of its great recipes than March, which happens to be National Peanut Month.

Found in about 75 percent of American homes, peanut butter is considered by many to be a staple like bread and milk. While the traditional kid and comfort food favorites - peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and peanut butter cookies - remain favorites today, peanut butter is all grown up when used in savory sauces for pasta, meat and vegetables.

Coincidentally, March is also National Nutrition Month - a great time to recognize the nutritional value of peanuts and peanut butter. One serving of peanuts is a good source of protein, vitamin E, niacin, folate, phosphorus and magnesium. Peanuts are naturally cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat.

Did you know that peanuts are not actually nuts at all - they are legumes, like beans, peas and lentils; Americans eat 3 pounds of peanut butter per person every year, that's about 700 million pounds, or enough to coat the floor of the Grand Canyon; two peanut farmers have been elected president of the United States: Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter; and one acre of peanuts will make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches.

Peanut butter was first introduced to the world at the Universal Exposition of 1904 in St. Louis. Krema Products Company in Columbus, Ohio began selling peanut butter in 1908, and is the oldest peanut butter company still in operation today. In 1922, Joseph L. Rosefield began selling a number of brands of peanut butter in California. These peanut butters were churned like butter so they were smoother than the gritty peanut butters of the day. He soon received the first patent for a shelf-stable peanut butter which would stay fresh for up to a year because the oil didn't separate from the peanut butter.

One of the first companies to adopt this new process was Swift & Company for its E.K. Pond peanut butter, renamed Peter Pan in 1928. In 1932, Rosefield had a dispute with Peter Pan and began producing peanut butter under the Skippy label the following year. Rosefield created the first crunchy style peanut butter two years later by adding chopped peanuts into creamy peanut butter at the end of the manufacturing process.

In 1955, Procter & Gamble entered the peanut butter business by acquiring W.T. Young Foods in Lexington, Ky., makers of Big Top Peanut Butter. They introduced Jif in 1958 and now operate the world's largest peanut butter plant, churning out 250,000 jars every day.

The following are a variety of traditional peanut butter recipes that I'm sharing this week for all you peanut butter lovers out there. They are for the most part very easy to prepare and packed full of peanut-tee flavor.

Until next time, from my kitchen to yours, happy baking!

Cake Mix Peanut Butter


1 pkg. yellow cake mix

1 cup crunchy peanut butter

1/2 cup oil

2 tablespoons water

2 eggs

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Drop from a teaspoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten with a fork which has been dipped in water. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

No Bake Peanut Butter


1/2 cup margarine

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 tablespoons cocoa

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup peanut butter

2 1/2 cups oatmeal

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine margarine, sugar, cocoa and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Drop by spoonfuls on buttered plate. Allow to set about 1 hour. Makes 3 1/4 to 4 dozen.

Peanut Butter Balls

1/2 cup softened butter

2 cups creamy peanut butter

1/2 tsp. vanilla

3 cups confectioners' sugar

2 1/2 cups Rice Krispies

8 oz. milk chocolate

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 bar melted paraffin (wax)

Cream butter, peanut butter, and vanilla in large bowl. Add confectioners' sugar by hand. Stir in Rice Krispies. Shape into small balls. Melt chocolates in double boiler with paraffin. Dip balls quickly, covering completely, and set on wax paper to cool.

Peanut Butter Pie

2 cups cold milk

3/4 cup peanut butter

1 (3.4 oz.) package vanilla instant pudding mix

1 (3 oz.) package cream cheese

1 cup whipping cream (whipped)

1 (9 inch) graham cracker crust

2 Tablespoons Hershey's chocolate syrup

Blend 1 1/2 cups milk with 1/2 cup peanut butter. Add instant pudding and beat on low speed 2-3 minutes. In a separate bowl, cream 1/2 cup milk and cream cheese. Add to peanut butter mixture and blend thoroughly. Fold in whipped cream. Pour into crust. Drizzle with hot chocolate topping. Chill 2 hours.

Peanut Butter Bars

1 cup soft margarine

1 cup peanut butter

1 pound confectioners sugar

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

Mix all ingredients well. Spread into 13"x9" pan. Melt 12 oz. chocolate chips and spread on top.

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 cup white sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Cream together butter, peanut butter and sugars. Beat in eggs. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir into batter. Put batter in refrigerator for 1 hour.

Roll into 1 inch balls and put on baking sheets. Flatten each ball with a fork, making a criss-cross pattern. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F oven for about 10 minutes or until cookies begin to brown. Do not over-bake.

Peanut Butter Meltaway



2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 sticks butter or margarine

1 cup water

3 tbsp. cocoa

2 eggs

2 tbsp. vanilla

1/2 cup sour cream


Combine flour, sugar and soda. Bring butter, water and 3 tablespoons cocoa to boil. While hot, add flour mixture and eggs, 2 tablespoons vanilla and sour cream. Mix well and pour into 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool.


1 cup peanut butter

1 tbsp. oil

1 stick butter or margarine

6 tbsp. milk

3 tbsp. cocoa

1 lb. box powdered sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

Mix peanut butter and oil and spread over cake. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Bring butter, milk and cocoa to boil. Cook for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, and spread over peanut butter layer.