Why Peanuts Are Called The Almonds of The Poor?
A story of how I re-discovered Peanuts and why I incorporate The Almonds of The Poor in my diet!
A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Apart from coping with its side effects – I reduced in-take of some food items like peanuts, which are known to affect thyroid levels. Then early last year, I consulted a dietitian and she said that I should not completely avoid them and should eat them for their health benefits too. Restricted eating rather than zero-eating should be followed. I used to love eating salted/ roasted/ masala peanuts with my drinks – I drink very occasionally like once in couple of months, so having them again is a blessing and have brought the zing back into my occasional crazy evenings.
What she said made sense to me, so I kind of increased that small dose of peanuts – few nuts in poha, vermicelli, Sabudana khichdi, chikki. After being away from them for a year or so, I really enjoyed adding them again to my diet.
This winter I visited my mom’s house and I brought back a bag full of sand roasted peanuts with shells. And a neighbor also gave me a big bowl full of raw peanuts in shells from Gujarat. I had the best of both North & West India this winter.
Even V ended up saying that eating these sand roasted peanuts is the true essence of north Indian winters and he is thankful to me for bringing home that!
How it looks: The peanuts are called almonds of the poor. The nutritional profile and its low cost have led to this phrase. Peanuts grow underground in elongated pods called hulls. The peanuts are in pairs or more in each hull. They have white to pinkish color skin on the nut depending on its maturity. The pods or hull are roots of plants and covering shells for the peanuts as well.
When is the best season: Best time to get a fresh supply of peanuts is late summer or early fall. In India, March and October are the best times to get a fresh harvest. The plant requires dry and warm weather with moist to dry soil for its ideal growth. Peanuts improve the soil quality by making it nitrogen rich. So it is a crop of choice when soil needs to be enriched between crops.
How to choose: When choosing peanuts the shell of the peanut should not be soft or broken with cracks. A harder shell ensures peanuts are not exposed to air which turns the peanut rancid faster. Peanuts without shells should be bigger nuts but not broken or without skin. The ones with bright pink skin and intact nuts have longer life and good taste.
Why to eat: Peanuts are low in carbohydrates and high in protein. Though they are high in fats, it is good fat which helps lower blood cholesterol and so lower risks of heart diseases and helps fight cancer as well. Other nutrients present in peanuts are in similar amounts like almonds or other nuts. Peanuts are a very filling snack option which makes it good for people with diabetes or those working on losing weight. Vitamin C and Resveratrol makes it a good option to have good hair and glowing skin.
Where to find: China and India are the major producers of peanuts in the world. The Peanut plant matures in a time span of 4 to 5 months from planting to harvest. The plant grows best if the plant receives dry and warm weather. Dry and sandy soil conditions with dry weather aids the plant growth well.
How to eat: Peanuts are best known as winter food that can be prepared in a number of ways as a mid meal snack. Peanuts can be roasted, fried or boiled with or without shells. Coating the nuts with spices adds to their taste. These nuts coated in gram flour is an all time favorite snack to go with drinks.
Many sweet preparations like peanut butter, energy bars and rolled balls with jaggery and other nuts are healthy and delicious. Other than a snack, peanuts are added in many recipes to add nutty flavor and give the crunch in bite. Peanuts add crunch to any dish or help make the gravy rich and thick in consistency.
What Ayurveda says: Ayurveda recommends the consumption of peanuts in moderation and as a morning or mid day snack option. Peanut oil is recommended to apply externally for joint pain relief and dry skin nourishment. The caution is to consume peanuts in moderation as it is heavy to digest otherwise.
What is the life span: The life span of peanuts is in the decreasing order from peanuts in shell, shelled whole peanuts, and deskinned peanuts in airtight containers. Shelled peanuts kept in air tight containers in the freezer last 9 months to a year and in the refrigerator 3 to 4 months. Roasted peanuts last lesser time before they turn rancid due to exposure to air.
Amazing fact: Peanuts are not a nut but they belong to the legume family like the peas or beans. It is an oil crop due to high oil content in the nuts. Contains more protein than cashews, almonds and hazelnuts each. Think of these when you next munch on this humble nut!
Leaving you with some pics! Enjoy!