Peanuts are, of course, exceedingly popular and quite healthy for you. But for some reason, most people only imagine eating peanuts in a few ways. Beyond a salty bar snack or a spread on some toast, peanuts are actually an incredibly versatile ingredient that you can use in many delicious recipes. In fact, peanuts are used in main dishes in a variety of ways throughout the world.
Before we get into some great recipes you can make that incorporate peanuts, let’s look at some facts:
- Peanuts are not nuts at all but are legumes that originated in South America. They’re more closely related to beans, lentils, and soy.
- Peanuts go by a variety of names, such as groundnuts, earthnuts, and goobers.
- In the US, peanuts are rarely eaten raw… but they can be!
- Peanuts are very high in fat, and in fact, a large portion of the world’s peanut crop is used for making peanut oils.
- Peanuts are a great source of plant-based protein, with protein as 22-30% of its total calories. Almonds are just a little bit behind.
- Peanuts are low in carbohydrates and have a low glycemic index.
- Peanuts are excellent sources of many vitamins and minerals, including biotin, copper, niacin, folate, manganese, vitamin E, thiamine, phosphorus, and magnesium.
- Peanuts are also rich in antioxidants, as rich as many fruits and chia seeds!
- Researchers believe the ancient Aztecs started mashing up peanuts into peanut butter hundreds of years ago. A more modern version showed up in the 1890s.
- The early introduction of peanuts into one’s diet can reduce the likelihood of peanut allergies, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. This helps to explain the very low rate of peanut allergies in Israel, as Bamba, a puffed peanut snack, is incredibly popular among young children.
You’ve probably eaten raw, salted, and chocolate-covered peanuts a million times. But have you ever cooked with them? If you have, chances are you’ve incorporated them into some sort of dessert or sweet dish. But did you know that peanuts are utilized around the world in savory main dishes as well? Here are some awesome recipes to include peanuts into your diet in new and interesting ways.
Chilled Noodles With Peanut Sauce
This easy recipe is a total crowd-pleaser, easy to make, and a huge hit with kids.
For the Peanut Sauce:
- ½ cup smooth peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
- ¼ cup brown rice syrup or agave
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (if you like things spicy)
For the Noodles:
- 1 pound spaghetti (whole grain, or brown rice Thai noodles)
- 1 cup chopped green onion
- Chopped peanuts, for garnish
- Combine all sauce ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
- Cook Spaghetti according to package directions.
- Drain the noodles and rinse under cold water. Drain again.
- Mix cooked spaghetti and peanut sauce in a large bowl.
- Add chopped green onions and chopped peanuts and serve.
West African Peanut Stew
This one-pot meal is simple, easy, delicious, and full of vitamins and minerals! On a cold day or night, this is an amazingly comforting warm dish that you and your entire family will love. This stew is actually a staple in West Africa, and is usually called “groundnut stew.” It also happens to be completely vegan and gluten-free!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 tablespoons ginger, grated
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- 1-2 jalapeno chili peppers, diced
- 2-3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled, cut, and diced into ½-inch cubes
- 1 15oz can diced tomatoes with juices
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- ¾ cup natural peanut butter (freshly made is best)
- 5 ounces of fresh spinach
- 2 small lemons, juiced
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh cilantro for garnish
- Peanuts, crushed or whole
- Hot sauce
- Whole grain of choice (brown rice, quinoa, couscous, etc.)
- In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat and add onion, garlic, ginger, and chili peppers. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add the sweet potatoes, tomatoes, spices, and broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are fork-tender.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the peanut butter, then the spinach and lemon juice. Upon cooling, the soup will thicken.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with grain of choice and garnish with cilantro and peanuts.
- Leftovers will keep for 5 days in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Roasted Beets With Honey, Salted Peanuts, and Feta
In this recipe, the salty peanuts add an amazing flavor component to the dish while providing healthy fats to make this salad a heartier meal.
- 2 lbs beets, peeled and cut into cubes or wedges
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 bunch of fresh parsley, washed and coarsely chopped
- 3 ounces salted peanuts
- 3 ounces feta cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Mix the beets in a Pyrex or ovenproof dish with thyme, honey, oil, and salt. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove the foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes.
- On a platter, mix the beets with parsley and peanuts. Top with chunks of feta cheese.
As you can see, incorporating peanuts into your main dishes is not only easy, but it adds a whole new dimension to the flavor, texture, satiety level, and nutritional value of your meals.