Jars of sustainable and healthy peanut butter are fast becoming popular in our health and eco-conscious society. But how do they stack up on taste? We’ve left the all-important taste test to the kids!
Tasty, versatile and an easy snack for an energy boost, peanut butter is pretty popular. Use it as a dip, spread it on toast, add it to smoothies, porridge and curries or simply have a spoonful straight from the jar; the world is downright nutty about peanut butter.
It’s a fair source of B vitamins, zinc, fibre and magnesium, and in theory is pretty healthy. However a lot of options out there include fillers like added salt, refined sugar and lashings of hydrogenated oil. So should we be giving our children so much of this stuff?
Healthy brands are available – but what exactly makes them ‘healthy’? And, more importantly, are they as tasty as their less wholesome alternatives? We may be willing to compromise on taste with the peace of mind that a product is better for us and the planet, but our kids certainly aren’t.
That’s why we’ve asked a couple of two year olds to be our healthy peanut butter connoisseurs. Meet best friends Anastasia and Pippa!
After choosing the right colour spoons for the job (a task that took longer than you might think, *eye roll*), Ana and Pips were ready to go.
100% Peanuts: The Ultimate Healthy Peanut Butters
Let’s start with the ‘nothing but nuts’ peanut butter. It doesn’t get more stripped back to basics than this. Since every nut is unique, every jar has its own taste. Since the natural oil content in the nuts dictates the consistency of the peanut butter, every jar is a different thickness too – that being said, all the peanut butters we tasted were smooth rather than crunchy. So let’s see how our jars fared in the sticky and taste stakes.
With a strong belief in sustainable farming methods and a strict no pesticides or additives policy, Biona only use roasted or blanched nuts in their healthy peanut butter.
Ana: ‘Mmm peanut butter!! Can I have some on toast?’ So far so good!
Pippa, on the other hand, had a strong negative reaction.
Pippa: ‘Mummy, I don’t like it.’ This was followed by a lot of screaming and eventually she spat it out.
Free from trans-fats and air dry roasted, Meridian is a popular brand on the organic peanut butter scene. With quite a lot of oil on top, this butter needed a good stir before tasting.
Ana: ‘Smells nice, mmm, yes I’d like it on toast please.’
I’m getting the feeling you want toast Anastasia?
Pippa needed a little coercing to try the next one after her ‘traumatic’ experience with the first sample, but she did try it and managed to swallow it this time!
Pippa: ‘Hmm, nice.’ I have to add that she said this whilst pulling a less than convincing face, but baby steps!
Whole Earth wholeheartedly believe that there is simply no need to mess with flawlessness, ‘that the best things in the world are perfect just as Mother Nature made them – like a rugged landscape or a box of wonky, home grown veg. They might be a bit rough around the edges, but that’s what makes them beautiful.’ – Whole Earth
‘Ask me what I think please, mummy.’
Suddenly someone feels very important and essential to this project.
Me: ‘What do you think, Anastasia?’
Ana: ‘No, this not good, tastes fluffy (?), I would like it with chocolate.’
I’m assuming this peanut butter wasn’t sweet enough or not as sweet as the Meridian brand at least. Then again, she may have just given up on getting toast and decided to try a different angle.
‘Ana no, this one is nice, the best one! Nice on my tongue.’
Well, isn’t someone warming up now! Pippa even proceeded to have two more spoonful’s of the Whole Earth.
The Palm Oil Debate
Palm oil is derived from palm oil trees grown in tropical rain forests. Tasteless and used for the creamy texture it gives, you’ll find it in everything from food to cosmetics. However, the great demand for the oil has resulted in deforestation and the threatened extinction of orangutangs. Luckily, palm oil can be farmed sustainably and the world is starting to sit up and take notice!
Skippy peanut butter has palm oil added, as well as sugar and salt. I was interested to see if the girls took an instant liking to this one after tasting only organic palm oil free versions thus far.
Ana: ‘Yummy yummy yummy! Breadstick please?’
Clearly peanut butter is better as an accompaniment to my child. Though I have to say the kid’s not wrong! Peanut butter is amazing on pancakes, in hot chocolate, with jam, well basically with anything. Yeah, she’s mine alright!
Pippa: ‘This is nice, the best one.’
Hmm, that’s great Pips, but do I see a pattern emerging here?
It’s also worth mentioning that the girls needed a lot of water after this peanut butter. The texture is noticeably thicker than the others and it certainly took them a lot longer to swallow it.
To Sprinkle or Not to Sprinkle: How Significant is Salt?
Now it was interesting to go from a peanut butter with additives to a more natural version and see the reactions.
Pip & Nut
Pip & Nut is almost 100% peanuts, there is no palm oil and only a sprinkling of sea salt is added. But a little salt could make all the difference to the sophisticated taste buds of a two year old right?
Ana was initially not too happy that she had to give up the Skippy, but the texture of the Pip & Nut was too funny for her to keep up the bad mood.
Ana: ‘It’s falling off spoon (mild hysterics ensued – this peanut butter was exceptionally runny). I like it. Pippa, what you think?’
Pippa: ‘No no no, not best one, Ana.’
So what can we take away from this totally scientific and reliable experiment?
Well, we can at least say that healthy peanut butter is appealing to children and could easily slot in as a substitute for the processed kind; Anastasia still wanted it on toast (or with anything really), after all. Pippa’s initial reaction could have been because it was not the taste or consistency of peanut butter she is used to but it didn’t put her off trying any others and she actually liked a lot of them.
Overall, the different consistencies didn’t bother the kids at all, albeit, the runnier ones were more amusing.
We can certainly take away that healthy, organic and sustainable versions of peanut butter are not bland, and as an eco-conscious adult, we don’t have to sacrifice taste for an ethical and nutritious alternative.
As we continue to become more aware of our health and environment, we can expect food companies to continue to adapt, but hey, it turns out our kids can too!