Serious Eats: Recipes

Eating for Two: Peanut Butter Cookies

I was interested in Ed’s take on peanut butter and its role in weight loss, since the spread has a similar presence in my pregnancy. Peanut butter is a virtue and a vice. When I am good, I am very good; for dessert or a snack, I am satisfied with a single stalk of celery studded with raisins and a tablespoon of peanut butter. But when I am bad, I am wicked; I treat a peanut butter honey sandwich as a snack, even though it easily clocks in at 500 calories—and eating one peanut butter honey sandwich only makes me want another. Right away.

Last week’s throw-your-hands-up study in the Los Angeles Times about what pregnant women should and shouldn't eat involved peanut butter (and nuts in general). A long-term, large-scale study by the Dutch government reported that children whose mothers ate nuts, or nut products, on a daily basis while pregnant are 50% more likely to develop asthma than those whose mothers never or rarely did.

The first account of the study suggested exactly what my doctor had said months ago: nuts and peanuts are fine in moderation. But what defines "moderate consumption"? Is my idea of a little bit daily excessive? Since meat only hits my table a few times a week, I eat a spoonful of peanut butter or handful of nuts most days for a protein fix. As long as I’m not slathering it on that second peanut butter and honey sandwich, I feel pretty good about this.

What Constitutes Too Much Peanut Butter?

But I can’t help but be nervous since my baby’s father is both seriously allergic to tree nuts (but not peanuts) and mildly asthmatic. He is also a medical researcher and frequently amused by my frustration with such studies—they're never quite conclusive, and seem designed to worry laypeople without actually helping us figure out a sensible solution. In the interest of not freaking people out, health and nutrition scientists, in my opinion, should keep results to themselves until they can offer concrete recommendations. But maybe I’m wrong and most people would rather hear preliminary results, erring on the side of caution.

Would you (or have you) modified your consumption of nuts and peanuts based on a study like this?

Walking on the Peanut Butter Wild Side

If you plan (as I do) to keep walking on the wild side, and enjoy reasonable amounts of peanuts, almonds, and their cousins, here's a recipe for my favorite peanut butter cookie , packed with peanuts (and, um, butter). I actually haven’t baked them while pregnant because they definitely fall on the vice side of the peanut butter divide—I cannot enjoy them in moderation. But for those elite few with responsible maternal self-control, they make a nice treat.

About the author: Robin Bellinger recently escaped a career in book publishing, which was cutting into her cooking time. Now she's a freelance editor and can bake bread on Tuesday afternoon if she feels like it. She lives in Midtown Manhattan with her husband and blogs about cooking and crafting at home*economics.

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