All Peanut Butters Are Not Equal

peanut-butterSo, peanut butter is a staple in our house. A big staple, and Aria’s daily request. However, I’ve realized (as of late especially) that all peanut butters are not equal. We’ve always been an all-natural kinda family, but after a little investigation I learned that there may be a better route to go than our standard Smucker’s All Natural (good, but not best) peanut butter choice. In fact, peanut butter is a bit of a sticky topic when it comes to which is best. Here’s a quick breakdown.

Standard: Standard peanut butters are the majority of what you see on the shelf. Big brands like Jif and Peter Pan, etc often contain added sugar, oils, etc. So incredibly unnecessary. Choosy moms do not choose Jif.

All Natural: (like Smuckers, etc) are better. All natural versions should be just peanuts and sometimes added salt. They are often not-organic unless stated. Be careful though because some brands make a “natural” peanut butter (um…Jif) but they still are only 90% peanuts and the rest salt, palm oil, sugar, etc. Not much better than the standard.

Organic: Our go-to these days. It’s worth choosing an organic because peanuts are harvested from the ground and have a porous shell which means pesticides can seep into the nut themselves.  Lately, we’ve been eating Trader Joe’s Unsalted Organic, which is just blended peanuts.  Again read your labels carefully. We were recently on the west coast and I bought an organic brand called Simply Truth, and was shocked when I got home and realized that it had added organic cane sugar, organic palm oil and salt. Note to self: Read labels carefully!

The peanut butter debate gets a bit trickier and stickier because of Aflatoxin, a fungicide sprayed on all different types of peanuts (because they are prone to mold).  To avoid it, you need to buy peanut butter that is sourced from peanuts from New Mexico (Valencia) or another region where they don’t spray it. If your child is a peanut butter addict like Aria, you may also want to think about substituting in another nut spread once in a while (safflower or almond nut butter are good alternatives).

There are a bunch of good articles with more details. It’s like everything else I reading these days, where what you thought of as “good for you” may not be the best.

Weekend Delight: Whole Wheat Pancakes (that actually taste good!)

It’s was rainy Sunday morning at the lake house, so breakfast got more attention than usual. I discovered this amazing whole wheat pancake recipe a while back, and ever since I made the first batch Aria’s been asking for more. She now also wants to “help”, which usually includes a spill and added cleanup, but is still super cute . I spruce up the recipe by throwing sliced bananas in the mix  (as well as on top of the finished product along with fresh strawberries).

Oh, don’t get scared off by the fact that the recipe has you adding apple cider vinegar to milk to essentially curdle it (ew). These are so light, fluffy and really delicious.  A great way to sweeten up a rainy day.

AMAZING WHOLE WHEAT PANCAKES 
Serves 2-3

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What you’ll need:

1 cup of milk
1 tsp of vinegar (white or apple cider)
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp of sugar (I even skipped this and they were still great)
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp of salt
2 tsp of melted butter (and a bit for melting on griddle)
1 egg
1 banana (optional)
3-4 fresh strawberries (optional)

Directions:
Combine the milk and vinegar and let the mixture curdle and then mix together the other ingredients while it does.

In a big bowl, whisk to combine the whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter, and the curdled milk, until it looks fairly homogenous and smooth.

Then, whisk the wet mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir the two together until just barely mixed. Make sure any visible loose flour to be stirred in, but leave the lumps. If you stir out the lumps, the pancakes will likely be tough.

Gently stir in 1/2 a banana sliced (optional)

Preheat a nonstick griddle to 375 degrees F and grease the surface with butter.  On my stovetop I just put the flame a little above mid-way.

Add small scoops of pancake batter w large spoon.  Cook for a few minutes, until you start to see bubbling on the surface. Flip the pancakes and cook for a few minutes on the other side, Both sides should be golden.

Garnish with rest of banana sliced and some sliced strawberries.

Enjoy!

Additional HealthyStyle Note:
You can skip the syrup to kick up the nutrition factor. I use a little Agave on mine, and Aria is still happy enough with them as is (I’m all about keeping the sweet stuff away from the littles until it’s impossible to hide it from them!) Real Maple Syrup is also a much better option than a lot of the store bought stuff.