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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Peanuts - Nilakadalai - Moongphali


Peanuts, dating back to around 800 B.C., have been found in archaeological sites. It is believed they played an important role in the diet of the Aztecs and other Native Indians in South America and Mexico. The Portuguese took peanuts from Brazil to Africa, where the crop became an important staple almost immediately. Peanuts became extremely popular in the U.S. in the 19 th Century. It was George Washington Carver, who not only suggested that farmers plant peanuts to replace their cotton fields that were destroyed by the boll weevil in the latter half of the 19 th Century, but he also invented more than 300 uses for this legume. At the end of the 19th century, a physician practicing in St. Louis, Missouri, created a ground up paste made from peanuts and prescribed this nutritious high protein, low carbohydrate food to his patients-which today we know as peanut butter. While he probably did not invent peanut butter since peanut paste had been used by many cultures for centuries, in the U.S. it quickly caught on and became, and still remains, a very popular food. In fact, Americans consume more than 600 million pounds of peanuts and about 700 million pounds of peanut butter every year. The United States is the third-largest peanut producing country in the world behind India and China.


Nutrition

Peanuts are high in protein and contain 40-50% oil. The oil is used in cooking, as salad oil, in margarines and the residue is fed to animals. Whole peanuts can be eaten raw or roasted or made into peanut butter (look out for brands which do not contain hydrogenated oils, which are highly saturated). As they are usually inexpensive, they can be mixed with other kinds of nuts to bring down the cost, while still maintaining flavour and good nutrition. 100g peanuts contain 24.3g protein, 2mg iron and 3mg zinc.



Recipes made from Peanuts

Peanut Curry
Peanut Cold Rasam
Kadalai Urandai

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