Ah, the peanut butter aisle.
I don’t know about you, but the peanut butter aisle was the second best aisle of the grocery store when I was growing up. (The first aisle was, of course, the cereal aisle.)
Even as an adult, it still makes me feel good to walk down that aisle. If you’re a peanut butter fan, you know exactly how I feel. The aisle is lined with jar after jar of deliciousness, enticing one’s senses with eye-catching labels in bright primary colors. Not only do the jars kind of look happy, the idea of eating peanut butter makes you feel happy.
If you listen closely, it’s almost certain you’ll hear the jars speak to you:
Eaaaaat me. I’m just made of sweet ‘ol peanuts … what could possibly be wrong with that? I’ll make you happy, I promise. Eaaaaat me.
How can you resist? You reach in to grab a jar of plain ‘ol peanut butter … but then other words begin to catch your eye. Words like:
All of this bliss is within your reach. Is it possible that your beloved peanut butter has been upgraded? Made even better? Yes, indeed!
You quickly choose to leave your plain peanut butter behind and buy one of these other peanut butters. Or at least you think it’s peanut butter. It was among the peanut butter, so it should be peanut butter. Ah well, does it really matter? It’s peanut butter-ish, and peanut butter is healthy because peanuts, so your choice was a good one.
I hate to break it to you, but it’s possible you’re eating what I call “Candy in a Jar.” Candy in a Jar is often located in the peanut butter aisle, but it’s actually a maybe-it-has-peanuts spread that likely contains a heck of a lot of sugar.
Just check out the sugar content on these puppies:
… 22 grams of sugar …
… 21 grams of sugar …
… 19 grams of sugar …
… 19 grams of sugar …
Seeing as the average adult should only consume no more than 25 to 50 grams of sugar a day (the upper limit depends on your gender and your daily calorie consumption) and the average child should consume no more than 12 to 25 grams a day (the upper limit depends on age), you can easily blow through your entire sugar limit (or get darn close) simply by indulging in a little Candy in a Jar.[thrive_leads id=’3046′]
Let’s be real here. A single serving is two tablespoons. It’s very easy to do a really bad job of measuring that out, especially when life is busy and we have better things to do than whip out the measuring spoons and carefully serve ourselves. And who hasn’t sat down with a jar of peanut butter (or Candy in a Jar) and a spoon? Mindlessly eating sweet, nutty goodness is embarrassingly easy.
Yes, it will taste amazing if you throw a bunch of sugar and candy-like ingredients into peanut butter or another nut butter. Obviously. (Technically peanuts, despite their name, aren’t actually nuts; they’re legumes … but I digress.)
But we as consumers have to be aware that just because it’s out there and just because it tastes good (okay, insanely good) doesn’t mean that we should eat it (and feed it to our kids) with reckless abandon. If you choose to indulge in Candy in a Jar, be mindful of what you’re eating and make it an occasional small treat, not a daily thing and definitely not a I’ve-got-a-spoon-and-Netflix-and-this-jar thing.
Better Yet, Eat a Sugar-Free Nut Butter.
Nut butter is pretty amazing on its own when you use high-quality nuts, so the crazy idea of adding sugar to nut butter probably came along when a company decided to grind up low-quality nuts and mass produce the result.
Thankfully, these days we have access to delicious, high-quality nut butters … and they’re usually just a click away. Maybe natural, sugar-free almond butter isn’t the same as a chocolate cheesecake hazelnut spread, but it still tastes pretty damn amazing.
Here are a few of my favorite sugar-free nut butters:
Artisana Organic Raw Cashew Butter, 14 oz (pack of 2): This stuff is divine. Smooth, creamy, and contains no added salt.
Artisana 100% Organic Raw Coconut Butter, 14 oz: Divine x 2. If you’ve ever had coconut oil, coconut butter is a totally different creature. It’s naturally sweet, spreadable (if you warm up the jar in a bowl of hot water or in the microwave), and reminds me of frosting.
NaturAlmond Almond Butter, Salt-Free, 12 oz: By far the best almond butter I’ve ever tried!
Crazy Richards 100% Natural Creamy Peanut Butter, 16 oz: As simple (and delicious) as you can get: just peanuts.
With all of those amazing sugar-free options, who needs Candy in a Jar?