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[Photograph: Peanut Butter & Co.]

Gluten-free bakers, low carb cooks, and fitness bloggers are all atwitter about peanut flour. What's the deal?

Peanut flour is made by taking roasted peanuts, grinding them into a paste (like peanut butter but without the added salt, sugar, or any added oils) and then pressing out the oil. The process is quite similar to extracting juice from grapes to make wine. The pressed peanut oil is actually quite flavorful. Chefs use it as finishing oil and food manufacturers use it for flavoring. The peanut flour is made by refining the peanut mass that's left after the oil is pressed out.

So what's peanut flour good for? Quite a bit, actually.

Since most of the oil's been pressed out, peanut flour is relatively low in fat. But it's still got all the protein, fiber, and other nutrients that make peanuts nutritional powerhouses.

Peanut flour is good for blending into smoothies. Mix it with some flax seed meal and top your oatmeal with it, or slice an apple and just dip it straight in the peanut flour for a nutty coating.

Peanut flour is sold in both light and dark roast varieties, and with oil levels ranging from 12% to 28%. The product is a dry powder at all levels, and the flavor gets deeper and "more peanut buttery" as the roast gets darker.

Carb conscious bakers will enjoy blending it with traditional white flour to lower the total carbs in their baked goods (all-purpose white flour has approximately 95 grams of carbohydrates per cup while peanut flour has about 21 grams of carbohydrates for the same amount of de-fatted peanut flour). Peanut flour contains 31 grams of protein per cup.

It's a natural thickener and great addition to stews, sauces, and gravies. In a pinch, peanut flour can even be a substitute for actual peanut butter. Just add a few teaspoons of water or oil to a cup of peanut flour and serve immediately!

Have you ever cooked or baked with peanut flour? Got any questions or recipes to share?

About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods
made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.

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