EXTENSION CONNECTION: Peanut butter has many benefits

Jill Breslawski| Special to the News Bulletin/USA TODAY NETWORK

CRESTVIEW — Peanut butter is often thought of as a simple staple for a kitchen pantry. Something always to have on hand to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for the kids when you need a quick meal, a delicious treat applied to celery, or a yummy addition to a breakfast smoothie.

Peanut butter can be taken for granted. This tasty spread provides a load of nutrition to the consumer of this shelf-stable staple. Just one ounce of peanut butter, about one tablespoon, is packed with about 7 grams of protein.

Protein helps our bodies in too many ways to list. Still, just a few include building muscle, keeping your bodily systems functioning, such as your immune system, and providing energy. In addition to being a good source of protein, peanut butter also contains vitamin E, antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, and monounsaturated (good) fats.

With all these benefits, one may think that eating a large amount of peanut butter may benefit their regular meal plan. Peanut butter is also high in saturated fat and calories, so moderation is key.

Because of the versatility, overall nutritional value, cost, and ease of storage, peanut butter can be especially beneficial to people who struggle with food insecurity. These people may need assistance keeping their homes stocked with food for themselves and their families.

To help fight food insecurity in our own community, the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension is once again hosting the annual Peanut Butter Challenge from Oct. 1 through Nov. 24.

We ask that those able donate new (unopened) and unexpired jar(s) of peanut butter to the Okaloosa County Extension office at 3098 Airport Road, Crestview. An additional collection site is the Florida Farm Bureau, 921 W. James Lee Blvd., Crestview.

After the challenge end date, our partnering agency, the Florida Peanut Producers Association (FPPA), will match the total amount of donated peanut butter.

All donations and matched products collected in Okaloosa will be distributed to food pantries and events held within the county to provide a nutritious food option to residents in need.

In 2020, the challenge collected 1,243 jars totaling 1,542.7 pounds for Okaloosa County; this year, we are hungry for more! On your next shopping trip, please consider helping out by grabbing an extra jar.

Contact Jill Breslawski, Family and Consumer Science Agent, or Jennifer Bearden, Agriculture Agent with the UF/IFAS Okaloosa County Extension at 850-689-5850 for more information about the Peanut Butter Challenge or donation arrangements.

Jill Breslawski

Jill Breslawski is an agent at the UF/IFAS Extension office in Crestview.