I love peanut butter. When I was little, a constant in my lunch was some form of peanut butter sandwich: the classic PBJ (peanut butter and jam), PB and honey, and the indulgent PB with white sugar! North American classics really. I was also one to enjoy 'ants on a log:' PB in the groove of a stick of celery, with raisins on top. A crunchy, savoury and slightly sweet treat. Peanut butter cookies, especially made by my Grandma Sasaki? Loved them. PB with slices of apple: yes please! I was a PB monster.
Nutritionally speaking, peanut butter is a powerhouse. It's heart-healthy and provides a good dose of vitamins (B3 and E), as well as that so important protein, great for runners recovery. It's one delicious source of energy, antioxidants, and fibre, which helps to make you feel fuller for longer.
These days, I still enjoy PB and honey sandwiches, especially before a run or a race, and have a slice of wholegrain toast with peanut and banana as my morning snack every day at work. I've also diversified my tastes and found two delicious recipes I want to share with you: one delicious meal idea and a sweet treat.
Spicy Peanut Stir Fry with Chicken
*from the Runner's World Complete Guide to Women's Running
A favourite in our household because it's got those three descriptive words I love when it comes to weekday meals: delicious, easy, quick. This recipe makes enough for dinner for two plus leftovers for lunch the next day.
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 chicken breasts
2 medium carrots, peeled
1 courgette (zucchini)
1 red pepper
1/2 to an entire head of brocoli (I LOVE brocoli)
1 medium red onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 red chilli
3-4 tbsp smooth peanut butter
3-4 tbsp soya sauce
1. Chop all vegetables. Mince the garlic, grate the ginger. Dice the red chilli into small pieces or strips. Cut your chicken into pieces. Heat your wok on medium high.
2. Pour the oil in your wok, then toss in the chicken. Stir fry for two minutes. Add the vegetables, garlic and ginger, and stir fry for another five minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked. Add the red chillies.
3. Add the peanut butter and soya sauce at this point; you decide if you want more or less. Stir into the stir fry, and voila, it's finished!
This is most excellent with quinoa or brown rice. It's also quite a versatile dish: you can add various vegetables to it, like Bok Choi (Pak Choi) in the photo above, and substitute the chicken for tofu to make it vegetarian (which we've done, and it's fantastic). If you're someone who's into spice, add the red chillies right at the end; if you prefer a mild stir fry, add them in with the vegetables, the spice will cook out of them. It's also equally delicious as cold leftovers.
Why not finish off your stir fry with a PB sweet treat? If you haven't stuffed your face, that is.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Bars
* from Rose and Henry in US cups
I LOVE these bars. Pat has nicknamed them Chocolate Muesli bars because they embody all the tastes we had for every day breakfast during our ski trip to the Italian Alps in April: oats, cinnamon, nut butter and chocolate (hello Nutella for breakfast!). I've adapted the recipe below for UK readers.
240g wholegrain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
225g soft butter
100g granulated sugar
100g brown sugar
125g peanut butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
300g chocolate chips (I used 200g plain, 100g milk chocolate)
1. Preheat your oven to 170'C. Grease a rectangular 9" x 13" baking tin and line with baking parchment.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, bicarbonate of soda and oats. Stir then set aside.
3. Using your food processor, blitz the butter and sugars together until light in colour. Add the peanut butter, vanilla and cinnamon, and blitz until fully combined. Alternatively, you can cream together the butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light in colour, then add the peanut butter, vanilla and cinnamon, and mix until combined.
4. Add your wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. This should yield a wet, chunky consistency. Divide the dough: 2/3's go into your prepared tin; flatten with a fork and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden in colour. Keep the remaining 1/3 for the topping.
5. Remove your base from the oven and top evenly with chocolate chips, then crumble remaining dough over all the chocolate. Return to the oven to bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until light golden brown in colour. Let cool completely before slicing.
These are excellent with a glass of milk for dessert in the evening. I also enjoy a cheeky one with my morning coffee on the weekends.
What's your most favourite peanut butter recipe?
What was your favourite sandwich as a kid?