Healthy New Ways to Make Dinner with Peanuts

Nutritionists urge Americans to eat more fish, leafy greens, and whole grains. Though these foods can all be tasty, few of us crave them the way we do a burger or slice of apple pie. One ingredient that’s managed to work its way into both categories is the peanut. Technically a legume, peanuts have a distinct flavor that most of us can’t resist and they also provide plenty of healthy fats, protein, niacin, and even fiber.

Though they haven’t received quite as much praise as almonds or walnuts, that may soon be changing. In 2015, a large study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found those who consumed around 15 grams of peanuts or other nuts per day were less likely to die from scores of diseases, including heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer. That’s also good news for your wallet as peanuts are significantly less expensive than other nuts.

The crunchy legumes are a no-brainer for crafting tasty snacks, but they’re just also a great addition to tons of different recipes ranging from sweet to savory. They work particularly well with other bold ingredients like spicy chiles, herbs, and soy sauce, making them perfect for cuisines from other cultures. You’ll want to try these five recipes for their health benefits, but you’ll make them again for the taste.

1. Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Source: iStock

Banana smoothie | iStock.com

When you’re getting ready to speed out the door in the morning, eating a nutritious breakfast is often a complete afterthought. Skipping the first meal of the day isn’t going to leave you feeling particularly energized and it’s even worse for guys headed straight for a workout. For a healthy breakfast you can make in about a minute, try this simple smoothie from Allrecipes.com. You’ll get protein and fat from the milk and peanut butter, plus plenty of potassium and vitamin B6 from the banana. It’ll give you the energy you need to make it through your whole fitness routine.

Maybe your favorite kind of workout takes place in the bedroom. This smoothie can still help you out. According to Livestrong, peanuts are also a great source of L-arganine, an amino acid that can help boost your stamina during sex.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bananas, broken into pieces
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey, or taste
  • 2 cups ice cubes

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour into glasses, and serve.

2. Roasted Peanut Slaw

cabbage, radishes, peanuts, slaw, salad

Peanut slaw | iStock.com

If you think of a mayonnaise-drowned dish of cabbage when you hear the word slaw, it’s time to change your perspective. Try Kelsey Nixon’s peanut-spiked version, which was featured on Cooking Channel. It’s a lot less heavy than traditional versions and maybe even more flavorful. Cabbage is an especially smart choice for those looking to lose a few pounds as it’s super low in calories, just 22 per raw cup, while still providing tons of nutrients.

This recipes is stellar the way it is, but it’s easy to dress up even more. Both mint and basil make great additions for those who love fresh herbs. We also like to toss in a few thinly sliced chiles to give this side some fiery kick.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head Napa cabbage, shredded
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, plus more
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup canola oil, or as needed

Directions: Toss the cabbage, scallions, cilantro, and 1 cup peanuts in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, soy sauce, peanut butter, sesame oil, and sugar to combine. Slowly drizzle in canola oil while whisking until dressing is emulsified.

Toss dressing with cabbage mixture, garnish with additional peanuts, and serve.

3. Peanut Noodles with Shredded Chicken and Vegetables

chicken, noodles, peanut sauce

Peanut noodles | iStock.com

Though peanut butter is loaded with healthy fats that can help keep you satisfied, it’s easy to go overboard if you’re spreading it on everything in sight. Cooking with the peanut butter is a smart choice, because you’ll get the same nutritional benefits without having to use all that much. Eating Well’s savory peanut, chicken, and noodle dish is a great example. With just ½ cup of the spread, you’ll wind up with a luxurious sauce that makes enough for 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1½ teaspoons chile-garlic sauce, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 8 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag chopped fresh vegetable medley

Directions: Fill a large pot with water and set over high heat. Meanwhile, place chicken in a skillet or saucepan and add enough water just to cover. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, shred into bite-size pieces.

Whisk peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic, garlic-chile sauce, and ginger in a large bowl to combine.

Cook pasta until not quite tender, about 1 minute less than the package instructs. Add vegetables and cook until pasta and vegetables are just tender, about 1 minute longer. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Rinse pasta and vegetables under cool water. Stir reserved coking liquid into peanut sauce, then add pasta, chicken, and vegetables. Toss to coat, and serve warm or cold.

4. Apple and Celery Salad with Peanuts

apple, celery, peanuts

Apple, celery, and peanuts | iStock.com

Both apples and celery taste phenomenal when paired with peanut butter, and this sophisticated salad from Epicurious is sort of like the adult version of those two snacks combined. It’s also incredibly easy. Just whisk together a simple Dijon mustard dressing, toss it with the apples and celery, then sprinkle the peanuts on top. It’s crunchy, slightly sweet, and incredibly satisfying.

Though celery is usually a throwaway vegetable, it actually contains loads of vitamin K, antioxidants, and a decent amount of fiber. Pairing it with peanuts is especially smart as vitamin K is fat-soluble, meaning the peanuts actually enable you to better absorb the nutrient.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 crisp red apples such as Fuji or Rome, cut into ¼-inch-thick sticks
  • 2 tart green apples such as Granny Smith, cut into ¼-inch-thick sticks
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ⅓ cup dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Directions: Whisk together lemon juice and mustard in a large bowl. Add oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly until emulsified. Add apples, celery, and parsley, tossing to coat. Serve sprinkled with peanuts.

5. Grilled Salmon in Toasty Peanut Salsa

grilled salmon

Grilled salmon | iStock.com

Unlike many types of fish, salmon has a strong flavor that can withstand even the boldest of ingredients. If you’re bored with the same seared fillet, try this complex-tasting dish from Rick Bayless. The creamy sauce gets a serious jolt of smoky taste from some chiles, making it a great accompaniment to the grilled fish. Leftover salsa would be great on turkey sandwich or drizzled on top of a chopped salad.

In addition to taste, this recipe is a complete winner when it comes to heart health. You’ll get plenty of omega-3s from the salmon, and the peanuts do their part as well. A 2013 study found folks who munched on peanuts enjoyed reduced levels of cholesterol and blood-pressure. Who knew eating for your heart could be so delicious?

Ingredients:

  • 3 unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 3 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded, and torn into large pieces
  • 2 canned chipotles in adobo, stemmed, and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • Salt
  • 4 (5- to 6-ounce) boneless, skinless salmon fillets
  • Olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 green onions

Directions: On one side of a large dry skillet, toast garlic over medium heat, turning often, until soft and blackened in spots, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, toast chiles on the other side of the pan, using a metal spatula to press against the pan. When they become fragrant and start to change color, about 10 seconds, flip, and cook other side. Remove to a bowl and cover with ¾ cup hot water. Let sit 10 to 15 minutes.

Peel garlic and add to a blender along with guajillos, soaking liquid, chipotles, and peanuts. Blend, adding more water, as needed, to thin to a spoonable consistency. Taste and season with salt, about ½ teaspoon.

Heat a gas grill to medium-high or light a charcoal fire and let the coals burn until covered with white ash. Lightly coat salmon and onions with oil and season with salt. Grill onions on the coolest part of the grill, turning often, until soft, about 15 minutes. Lay salmon on the hottest part of the grill. When deep sear marks form and fish starts to release, about 3 minutes, flip fish and cook to your desired doneness, about 6 minutes longer for a 1-inch-thick fillet. Transfer to plates.

Chop the green onion into small pieces. Spoon salsa over fish, sprinkle with chopped onion, and serve.

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