By Leslie Bonci, MPH,RD,CSSD, LDN
As a sports dietitian and nutrition coach, I am always looking for ways to help my athletes optimize performance through what they eat, how much they eat and when they eat. I like to provide demos, cooking classes and shopping tours and watch them become engaged, excited and inspired to think about their fuel. Peanuts and peanut butter are an integral part of my entire nutrition coaching process. I like to say:
From the blender, on bread or straight out of the jar,
Any flavor you like—peanuts and peanut butter can star.
So, why do I count on peanuts and peanut butter as a key recommendation for my athletes? Peanuts and peanut butter have great benefits for athletes at any stage of their game—from novice to pro.
First of all, peanuts and peanut butter just taste great. They bring back memories of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as a child or cracking the shells of peanuts at a ballgame. When your mind is working hard to compete and win, having a great tasting comfort food on hand helps round everything out.
Peanuts are a nutrition powerhouse; in fact, they are a Superfood! Peanuts have more protein than other nut and contain fiber, mostly good fats, are a good* source of magnesium, vitamin E, folate, copper, and phosphorus, and an excellent** source of niacin and manganese.
As if that’s not enough, consider these benefits:
- Availability- this is especially important for my minor league teams who find themselves stopping in convenience stores and gas stations late at night after the restaurants are closed.
- Helps my athletes achieve their body goals:
- For those trying to increase mass- peanut butter and nuts offer an excellent way to get in additional calories without huge volume, so they don’t feel stuffed- i.e. adding peanut butter to a smoothie, or nuts and peanut butter mixed into oatmeal.
- For those trying to shed some extra pounds, the fat and protein provide satiety, so they stay fuller longer. I always try to pair peanut butter with an apple or celery, or add peanuts to popcorn to help athletes fill up.
- Shelf stability- when an athlete is on an extended road trip, coming home to leftovers may not be appealing, BUT that package of crisp crackers and jar of peanut butter can make a satisfying meal. Click here to learn about the shelf life of peanut butter.
- Versatility—Peanuts and peanut butter lend can be eaten all hours of the day.
In the Morning, peanut butter can be added to oatmeal, a smoothie, yogurt or spread on a bagel.
In the Afternoon, mix peanuts in a trail mix, eat energy bites (see recipe below) or eat a peanut butter sandwich or us peanut butter as a dip for crackers, fruits or vegetables.
In the Evening, peanuts can be added to a rice dish, vegetables, a salad or use peanut butter, soy sauce and crushed red pepper as a marinade for chicken.
- Space friendly and easy-to-pack- works really well in equipment bags, buses, tiny kitchens
- Good on its own or as an add-in or add-on
- Ready to eat- no prep required- great for the culinary challenged
- A satisfying snack that is ready to go containing good fats for minor leaguers and the pros
*Good source is defined as 10% or more daily value for a vitamin or mineral.
**Excellent source is defined as 20% or more daily value for a vitamin or mineral.
2/3 cup honey roasted peanuts
2 cups mixed raisins/dried cranberries (or other chopped dried fruit)
1.5 cups dry oats
2 cups crispy rice cereal
¼ cup whey protein isolate vanilla or unflavored
1 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
¾ cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Coat 4 ice cube trays with cooking spray. Combine peanuts, dried fruit, oats, protein and crispy rice cereal in a large bowl. In a microwave safe bowl- combine peanut butter, honey and vanilla. Microwave on HIGH for 1-2 minutes until bubbling. Add this to dry ingredients and stir well. Transfer mixture to ice cube trays and press down firmly. It may help to spray fingers with cooking spray. Put in refrigerator or freezer briefly to set.
Yield: 64 bites: Serving = 2 bites
Nutrition Per Serving:
Fat: 5.9 grams
Carbohydrate: 20.5 grams
Fiber: 1.7 grams
Sugars; 13.9 grams
Protein: 4.45 grams
Leslie J. Bonci, MPH,RD,CSSD, LDN, is the owner of Active Eating Advice- Be Fit, Fed, Fearless, a nutrition consulting company. She is a certified specialist of sport dietetics, and she has been working in the areas of sport nutrition and general nutrition for over 20 years. Bonci works with sport teams and athletes at all levels. Her work at the professional level includes consulting with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Milwaukee Brewers as well as the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and WNBA. Corporate clients include top food manufacturers, nutritional supplement companies and several commodity boards. Leslie is the author of Sport Nutrition for Coaches and the American Dietetic Association Guide to Better Digestion and co-author of Run Your Butt Off, Walk Your Butt Off, the Active Calorie Diet and Bike Your Butt Off. She blogs for national publications, has a weekly television segment on KDKA-TV, Pittsburgh Today and a weekly radio spot on KDKA-radio. She is a former spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and has appeared as a guest on several national TV shows. She is on the advisory board for Fitness magazine and is an adjunct instructor in the school of dental medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.