For almost one-quarter of the calories and one-eighth of the fat, dieters have a peanut butter substitute. Everyone else has a new peanut butter flavoring. Photography by Claire Freierman.
PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter
Make A Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter Spread With 75% Less Fat ... Or Flavor Your Favorite Foods
CAPSULE SUMMARY: People who love peanut butter but can’t have the fat have a new friend in PB2. It’s peanut powder made from roasted peanuts that have been 75% defatted and ground into an aromatic and tasty powder. The powder reconstitutes with water to a homemade PB-like consistency; but has equal uses as powdered garnish/flavoring and a cooking/baking ingredient. Thus, it belongs in every kitchen. As a PB substitute, without all of peanut butter’s natural oil and creamy mouthfeel, you won’t mistake PB2 for the real thing, any more than fat-free milk can be mistaken for whole milk. But it’s far superior in taste than other PB substitutes, and at 54 calories per 2 tablespoons and just 2.8g total fat, it saves calories and fat for those who can’t have one or both and want their peanut butter. By analogy, fat-free milk is better than no milk at all, and can be quite enjoyable once you get used to it.
The country’s most famous peanut farmer became the 39th president of the United States and won the Nobel Peace Prize. He doesn’t have to worry about supporting his family. But not every peanut farmer is as successful as James Earl Carter, Jr., a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a Navy engineer who grew up on the family peanut farm. Carter resigned his commission to manage the peanut farm after the death of his father. He ran it prosperously, back in the 1950s.
Today, according to USDA figures, the average return for an American farmer is only about 0.95%—less than 1% of his total investment. Due to much lower costs of living in other countries, a farmer on the international market could potentially sell a commodity like peanuts for five times less than an American farmer. America has a peanut crop surplus of 1.2 billion pounds. Our farmers must find more efficient and profitable ways to grow and sell their crops. Bell Plantation, an agricultural research company, was established to help farmers make money. It took approximately 900 million pounds of the surplus peanuts to research and create new peanut-based consumer products.
One of the products to emerge is PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter. It’s made by slow-roasting the peanuts and then pressing them to remove 75% of the fat. The remaining product is ground into a pretty, peanut-colored powder that is meant to be mixed with water into a reduced-fat peanut butter substitute.
If you read some of the comments posted to diet chat boards and elsewhere by PB2 fans, you’ll see descriptors like “amazing” and “insanely delicious.” These are words that professional food writers would not likely use to describe the finest artisan peanut butters. Nor should you believe postings—or the label of the package—that tell you that the product is indistinguishable from real peanut butter (the label says that “PB2 has the same consistency as full fat peanut butter with all of the natural roasted peanut flavor but with 75% less fat calories”).
As you can see from the photos, it is distinguishable from real butter in appearance as well as in taste. The unctuousness, from the oil that gives body as well as mouthfeel and flavor, is gone. The mixed-up product also is not stable: When exposed to air for an hour, as happened in our photo shoot, PB2 darkens and the flavor alters, which does not happen with regular peanut butter. There is no food magic that allows us to remove 75% of the fat (or sugar, or whatever) from a product without noticing a difference. Don’t believe a person who tries to tell you otherwise; if that person truly believes it, he is not tasting with an unbiased set of taste buds.
But PB2 is not just a peanut butter substitute for those who can’t have the real thing. Powdered peanut butter is a good and versatile product that belongs in the kitchen of anyone who likes peanut butter. So let’s take a look at it, and see where it fits into your life.
PB2 has three audiences: Dieters who want peanut butter flavor without peanut butter fat and calories, anyone who likes peanut butter flavor and wants to easily add it to a variety of foods as a sprinkle or mix-in, and cooks/bakers who want a peanut butter ingredient to play with.
PB2 For Dieters
We’ve provided nutritional information below, but here’s a quick summary of two tablespoons of regular peanut butter, compared to PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter:
If you’re counting your calories and/or your fat grams and must have peanut butter, there’s no doubt which option makes sense for you.
*We used nutritional information from our current favorite plain peanut butter, Cream-Nut from Koeze.
You can experiment until the cows come home with powdered peanut butter. Here’s some of what we played around with.
Pancakes and waffles, breakfast cereals, smoothies and milkshakes, plain milk, Chinese chicken salad, coatings for broiled and sautéed fish and chicken, whipped cream and a myriad of other foods are waiting to be PB2d. If they haven’t already done so, Bell Plantation should give the powder to recipe developers who work on reduced fat products, to see what it can do for peanut butter cake, pie, cookies and other goodies.
What’s in a two-tablespoon portion of PB2? The product is made from peanuts, sugar and salt. Two tablespoons of the powder have the following nutrients*:
*Percent Daily Value (DV) based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
The packaging is very basic and needs to be reworked. The product label (on a standard plastic jar) looks as if it were computer-generated by an administrative staff member in the Bell Plantation Office, not by professionals (see photo below). It will not help the product generate excitement on a retail shelf—and PB2 deserves better. But there are bigger issues.
We’re also not sure what the phrase “Just Peanut Butter” is doing on the label. PB2 isn’t “just peanut butter,” it’s peanut powder that can be mixed up into a reduced fat peanut butter-type product or used in other applications. Remember, it’s not peanut butter that was powdered, it was the peanuts themselves.
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