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[Image: Lee Zalben]

Like most folks on the East Coast, I was stuck at home for a few days last week while Hurricane Sandy beat down on the East Coast and ravaged the New York Metro area.

I was very fortunate: no damage or power loss at home. The Peanut Butter & Co. Sandwich Shop is below 34th Street and was closed for a week because of the lack of electricity. Our office, just below Central Park, was closed for the same amount of time because of a fallen crane dangling 90 stories above the street a block away. Small inconveniences, and certainly manageable when compared to what others went through.

Things are starting to get back to normal, even though it's clear that parts of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will never be quite the same, and residents from those areas have a tough road ahead of them. A great way to support efforts to assist these people is through the American Red Cross and the Food Bank for New York City.

Over the last few days, I have been struck by how many people have remarked to me about how peanut butter came to their rescue during the storm. A shelf stable product that's high in protein and energy and requires no electricity or fancy openers to enjoy, peanut butter is a perfect food to have on hand during an emergency.

Here are some of the quick and simple ideas that were shared with my by email and through tweets, Facebook posts, and more. Some require various forms of power and/or heat, and some don't. All are industrious and delicious:

  • Ramen noodles: Add a few tablespoons of peanut butter to the cooking water and spice packet and all of the sudden you've got noodles with peanut sauce.
  • Oatmeal: Add some peanut butter and your oatmeal is now protein packed, plus the extra flavor is a bonus if you don't have sugar or other sweeteners on hand.
  • Bread: Plain bread is just bread. Heated up on a clothes iron, a grill, or hot pan it becomes toast, but add some peanut butter and it magically becomes something primal and indulgent.
  • Banana: If you have power, mash a banana with peanut butter and freeze for a cold and creamy dessert. Or whirl in blender with some water for a desperate smoothie. No power? Eat neat or pair with bread for a satisfying treat with lots of protein and potassium to help keep you going.
  • Pretzels: Not everyone's go-to starch for pairing with peanut butter. Sure, it's salt-on-salt action, but it's a lip smacking pairing, no knife required.

Has a jar of PB ever come to the rescue for you during a storm? What are some of your favorite simple ways to enjoy peanut butter?

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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