Go nuts! March is National Peanut Month

009: Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter grew peanuts.

On a cold and rainy Saturday morning, Denise Mancini greeted market-goers with a warm smile as she offered samples from her artisanal nut butter company, Naughty Nutty Love.

For her, enjoying peanut butter is “like Christmas every day.”

And she’s not alone. According to the National Peanut Board, “the average American consumes more than six pounds of peanuts and peanut butter products each year.”

It’s so popular that March is National Peanut Month.

“I love it because it’s just a really nice source of good fats and protein. It’s a good source of antioxidants,” explained Mancini, who’s worked in the fitness industry for more than 25 years. “It’s a good source of vitamin E, niacin, folate. It helps to lower cardiovascular disease.”

“It’s just an all-around, anytime-of-day staple,” she said. “I think it’s a timeless food. A lot of people have been raised on it. If you’ve been raised on it, at 80 you’re most likely still eating it.”

The Downingtown mother of three started milling her own peanut butter at a friend’s suggestion back in 2007. She went from selling it at her desk to launching her own business.

“I mill them fresh from natural roasted peanuts. I don’t add any oils,” Mancini said of her peanut butters, available online and at six farmers’ markets.

“Her peanut butter is really, really, really good,” noted Liz Andersen, manager of the Phoenixville Farmers’ Market. “I’m actually a little addicted myself.”

Flavors include chocolate, cinnamon and butterscotch.

“I call them ‘fun butters.’ That’s where the naughty part of Naughty Nutty Love comes from,” Mancini described. “It’s just a little bit naughty.”

“My favorite flavor would probably be the classic – just the natural peanut butter with a little bit of salt,” she added. “Cinnamon is the runner up.”

Andersen enjoys the classic peanut butter too.

“I like it on banana,” she said. “In addition to tasting good, I think it (peanut butter) gives you more staying power as a snack. It’s salty. It’s got protein. It’s the perfect complement to so many things.”

That’s why Mancini encourages people to celebrate the peanut holidays.

“They’re nuts if they don’t,” she joked.

PEANUT SAUCE

1/4 cup natural peanut butter

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/4 cup water

Blend sauce ingredients in a blender. Drizzle over vegetables, chicken, fish, pasta or tofu. Be creative.

PEANUT BUTTER WHEY COOKIES

1/2 cup quick oats

1 tablespoon natural peanut butter

1 scoop of whey protein powder

1 egg white

2 packets of stevia, to taste

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 cup of carob chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients together in a mixing bowl, and mix with clean hands. Shape the dough into golf-ball-size balls. Place on cookie sheet about an inch-and-a-half apart. Bake for 10 minutes.

PEANUT BUTTER FRUIT DIP

1/2 cup vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1/4 cup honey

fruit for dipping

In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients until well combined. Serve with your choice of fruit for dipping.

(recipes courtesy of Denise Mancini)

Fun facts/ Did you know?

• It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.

• There are enough peanuts in one acre to make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches.

• Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter grew peanuts.

• Astronaut Allen B. Sheppard brought a peanut with him to the moon.

• Americans consume, on average, more than 1.5 billion pounds of peanut butter and peanut products each year.

• Ninety percent of U.S. households buy peanut butter.

• Women and children prefer creamy. Most men opt for chunky.

• Four of the top 10 candy bars manufactured in the U.S. contain peanuts or peanut butter.

• The peanut plant originated in South America.

• The peanut is not a nut, but a legume related to beans and lentils.

Source: National Peanut Board