Food With Peanuts

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Food With Peanuts is a food blog about healthy and tasty meals in which peanuts are the main ingredient for any kind of dish.

Peanuts; A Brief History

processing the peanuts

BASIC PEANUT BUTTER RECIPE

2 cups (300 grams) unsalted shelled peanuts

1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 to 2 teaspoons honey

1 to 3 teaspoons peanut or vegetable oil, if needed

DIRECTIONS

Heat oven to 350°F. Add the nuts to a round or square cake pan (or rimmed baking sheet). Roast nuts for 3 minutes, shake pan then roast another 3 to 5 minutes or until the nuts are lightly browned and smell nutty. Let cool until you can handle them.

If you are making crunchy peanut butter, add 1/3 cup of the roasted peanuts to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 6 to 8 times, or until the peanuts are chopped into very small pieces. Transfer chopped peanuts to a bowl and reserve for later.

Add the roasted peanuts to the bowl of a food processor. Process 1 minute then scrape sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Process another 2 to 3 minutes until the peanut butter is shiny and smooth. Add your desired amount of salt and honey then process until combined. Check the consistency, if it seems too thick, add oil, a teaspoon at a time, until you are happy with it. For crunchy peanut butter, stir in the reserved peanuts.

A Brief History of Peanuts & Peanut Allergies

A peanut dominant recipe, like this one, may sound appetizing and make your mouth water upon imaging the sweet, yet salty, smell of peanuts roasting in the oven. However, for many individuals, this smell is not only off-putting, but also deadly. In the US alone, 0.6-1.0% of the entire population has a peanut allergy. This means that at Colby College, a campus of around 2000 students, 12- 20 students would likely be allergic to peanuts, given this statistic. The interesting and complex history of both peanuts and peanut butter throughout recent years will be discussed in how it relates to current nutritional and dietary studies, especially in regards to peanut allergies

raw peanuts

Peanuts are part of the legume family and make up a large portion of the worlds crop production, especially in India, China, the US, Africa and Europe. Peanuts are largely popular in the US, where peanut butter is common in many diets. There are two main types of peanuts grown, including bunch/erect, that grow upright, or runners/prostate, which are distributed along the ground. But within the food production there are four main peanut distinctions; Virginia, Runner, Spanish, and Valencia, which differ in their origin, season, and nut phenotype. It is also important to note that peanuts are not actually tree nuts, rather they are groundnuts. Interestingly enough, peanuts are self-pollinating with flowers that are above ground, even though the peanut itself grows underground2.

Peanuts are believed to have originated early in 2000 B.C. in Peru. The majority of the peanuts that reached the US arrived via the slave trade, beginning in Africa, but before this, peanuts were already present on US soil (most likely from Mexico, South or Central America). Peanuts were initially grown as a food source for livestock that could quickly fatten up farm animals, such as pigs, turkeys, and chickens. Peanuts didn’t begin to gain popularity for human consumption until the US Civil War, during which, George Washington Carver found many uses for peanuts. In Europe, a huge market for peanut oil developed, arising from an inability to meet the high demand from the market for olive oil, since peanuts are able to store oil, rather than starch, like in most legumes.

diagram of peanut plant

Although a market for peanuts had arisen, they proved to be slightly difficult to grow. In fact, about 25% of all peanut crops are lost each year due to a variety of plant disorders. Two common peanut pathogens are Sclerotina minor, which causes sclerotine blight, and Cercospora arachidicola, which causes early leaf spot. Herbicides can be used to control these diseases; however, this treatment is not always effective because of high levels of resistance. Peanuts grow best in hot climates that experience both wet and dry seasons. When growing, the addition of calcium sulfate is essential since without it, the development of peanut fruits is greatly affected. Also, peanuts are typically grown as part of a crop rotation, alternating with other crops every three years in order to decrease the likelihood of soil depletion. When harvesting, only about 15% of peanut flowers actually produce fruit and of the fruit harvested, only 70% of those picked are actually mature at the time.

Peanuts have an incredibly high percentage of protein by weight, compared to other foods that are typically considered high in protein. For example, the composition of peanut butter is ~27% protein. Thus, peanuts are prized for their ability to provide an inexpensive, yet high, source of vegetable protein. For example, a single 1oz serving of peanuts has 7-8g of protein, which equates to 11-12% of the recommended daily allowance of protein. As mentioned previously, proteins also have a high fat content, ranging from 44-56% composition and of this, 85% of the fat is unsaturated, with a 2:3 ratio of polyunsaturated to monounsaturated fat. With their high fat content, 75% of calories from peanuts come from fat. Additionally, peanuts are particularly low in sodium, but often times peanuts that are consumed are purchased in a salted form, that have much higher compositions of sodium. As far as the composition of vitamins within peanuts, they are high in magnesium, phosphorous, sulfur, copper, and they also contain high amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted into niacin.

fresh peanut butter

Despite the highly nutritious content that peanuts contain, they can also be quite deadly to people who have peanut allergies. Allergic reactions occur when an individual’s immune system reacts strongly to a harmless substance, such as peanuts or other common allergens, by producing large amount of antibodies, also known as Immunoglobulin E (IgeE), to target the allergen. These antibodies, in combination with mast cells and basophils, all work together to produce a heightened inflammatory response. A severe allergic reaction is known as anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock, which if often life-threatening, requiring immediate emergency intervention. Common symptoms of anaphylactic shock include itchy hives, swelling of the throat and tongue, shortness of breath, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, and abnormal heart rate.

Research on developing a peanut vaccine has been ongoing for about twenty years. A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology last Spring indicates that the reality of this peanut vaccine is now within reach. This research study was lead by Jessica O’Konek at the University of Michigan’s Food Allergy Center. The vaccine that they’ve created works by redirecting the immune system, specifically immune cells, during an allergic reaction to peanuts. The studies in which a vaccine was effective were carried out by using mice with allergies to peanuts as a model organism. Dr. O’Konek explains, “By redirecting the immune responses, our vaccine not only suppresses the response but prevents the activation of cells that would initiate allergic reactions”. More research must continue before the FDA approves clinical trials on humans, but these results are extremely encouraging that creating an allergy vaccine is entirely feasible in the future.

So next time you’re having a handful of peanuts or a PB&J make sure to keep in mind both the history of peanuts in the US as well as the life-threatening allergy attacks that occur when some people consume them.

Food With Peanuts

Stricter Canadian guidelines require that peanut-containing products are clearly labeled. The ingredient list will say “contains: peanuts” if it contains this ingredient. 

Foods that contain peanuts

Mixed nuts with peanutsPeanut oil, Arachis oil (cold-pressed)
PeanutsPeanut punch/drink
Peanut butterPeanut sauce
Peanut flourPeanut soup
Peanut mealSzechuan sauce
Valencias

Foods that may contain peanuts

Almond and hazelnut pastesGlazes
Baked goods (e.g. cakes, muffins, donuts, etc.)Granola bars, energy bars or fruit bars
Cake icingHydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed plant protein
CandyIcing
CerealsMacaroons
Chili con carne (peanut butter may be used to thicken chili)Marzipan
Chinese foodsNougat
Chocolate barsPastries
Commercial dessertsPeanut popcorn
CookiesPotato chips (may be made with peanut oil)
Desserts (e.g. frozen desserts, frozen yogurts, ice cream, sundae toppings)Prepared, dehydrated soup mixes
Dried salad dressingsSatay sauce
Egg roll/Imperial roll (peanut butter may be used to seal egg rolls)Thai food
Fried foodsVegetarian meat substitutes
Fried snack foods

Other names for peanuts

ArachideGround nuts
Arachis oilKernels
Beer nutsMandelonas, Nu-Nuts
Cacahouète/cacahouette/cacahuèteNut meats
Goober nuts, goober peasValencias

Non-food sources of peanuts

Be aware that these non-food sources of peanuts may affect you if you have a peanut allergy.

Ant baits, bird feed, mouse traps, pet foodStuffing in toys
Craft materialsSunscreen/suntan lotion (some)
Lip glossesVitamins (some)
Skin creams, cosmetics

Nut Allergy

Causes of Nut Allergies

Tiny proteins found in nuts aren’t affected by things like heat or acid, so they’re still intact after they’re processed, cooked, or even digested. Some people are sensitive to these intact proteins, and their bodies make antibodies to fight them.

The antibodies latch on to the proteins. This triggers your immune system to release a chemical called histamine. Hence, Histamine is actually what causes the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Peanuts and tree nuts aren’t the same. But if you’re allergic to one, you may also need to avoid the other. However, you can ask your doctor.

Tree nuts include:

  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Chestnuts
  • Filberts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Hickory nuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts

Foods With Nuts

You may find peanuts or tree nuts in things like these:

  • Baked goods: Cookies, candy, pastries, pie crusts, and others
  • Candy: Chocolate candy especially; also nougat and marzipan
  • Other sweets: Ice cream, frozen desserts, puddings, and hot chocolate
  • Cereals and granola
  • Trail mix
  • Chili and soups. Peanuts or peanut butter are sometimes used as thickeners.
  • Grain bread
  • High-energy bars
  • Honey
  • International foods: Nuts are common ingredients in African and Asian cooking (especially Thai and Indian foods), and in Mexican and Mediterranean foods.
  • Mortadella. This Italian ham may include pistachios.
  • Veggie burgers
  • Sauces: These include barbeque sauce, hot sauce, pesto, gravy, mole sauce, glazes, or marinades.

List of 10 Foods That Include Peanuts

  • Peanut Butter
  • Ethic Foods
  • Sauces
  • Bars
  • Candy
  • Nu-Nuts
  • Nougat
  • Pesto
  • Muffins and Breads
  • Desserts

Peanuts are a healthy source of protein, vitamins and minerals; but for some individuals, peanuts are a health hazard. Peanut allergies among children have risen, doubling between the years 1997 and 2000, according to Food Allergy Initiative . Therefore, increasing the awareness of different foods that contain peanuts can help keep significant allergic reactions to a minimum.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is made directly from the process of creaming peanuts. Peanut butter is generally easy to store and can last for a significantly long period of time unopened.

Ethic Foods

Ethnic foods such as African, Chinese and Thai foods are often made with peanuts or peanut oil, or they often contain trace amounts of peanuts. Also at ethnic restaurants, cross-contamination may occur from pots and pans used to cook food containing peanuts.

Sauces

Peanuts and peanut oils are used as sauces to add flavoring to dishes. TeensHealth notes that peanut butter or peanut oil is commonly used by chefs and cooks as a thickening agent for sauces in foods such as chili 1.

Bars

Peanuts are commonly used as an ingredient in food bars, energy bars and protein bars. These bars are used either as meal replacements or to provide high amounts of nutritional calories. Because peanuts are high in protein and healthy nutrients, they are used in these bars.

Candy

Candies often contain nuts. Candy bars, peanut brittle and bite-size candy such as M & Ms are made with peanuts. As long as you do not have peanut allergies, eating candy that contains peanuts is a healthier option than consuming candy without nuts. This is because the nuts add a valuable amount of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats to the candy bar.

  • Candies often contain nuts.
  • As long as you do not have peanut allergies, eating candy that contains peanuts is a healthier option than consuming candy without nuts.

Nu-Nuts

Nu-Nuts are artificial nuts that often contain some amount of peanuts. According to Children’s Hospital of Boston, nu-nuts are made by removing the natural peanut taste from peanuts and then flavoring them with other nuts such as pecans or walnuts.

Nougat

Nougats are a whipped candy that comes in a variety of flavors and contains different ingredients. Peanuts are one of the ingredients that can be used in the making of nougat.

Pesto

Pesto is often used in Italian pasta dishes. Peanuts are one of the ingredients commonly used in the making of pesto.

Muffins and Breads

Muffins and breads may have peanuts added to them. Also, peanut oil or flour can be used in the making of an assortment of different breads. Cross-contamination can occur in bakeries. Therefore, if you are highly allergic to peanuts, avoid bread products made from places that use peanuts in their baking.

  • Muffins and breads may have peanuts added to them.
  • Also, peanut oil or flour can be used in the making of an assortment of different breads.

Desserts

Desserts such as cookies, pastries and brownies often contain peanuts. Peanuts are used to add flavor and a crunchy texture to these common desserts. Also, peanuts are often used in ice cream. When eating at an ice cream parlor, cross-contamination is likely to occur, because the same scoops are used for all the flavors.

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