The humble peanut is extremely versatile, irresistible, and historically popular. But did you know that peanuts are actually legumes, in the same family as beans and peas? Though not a nut by technical definition, peanuts are considered nuts and are very similar to tree nuts. The crunchy texture, subtle taste, long shelf life, and high protein content of peanuts make it quite similar to other nuts that grow on trees.
Why are Peanuts so Popular
Peanuts are a common favorite because of their noteworthy taste and simplicity to enjoy. Even with its shell, it's quick and easy to crack one open and pop a peanut in your mouth. There are so many ways to eat and cook with peanuts, be it sweet, savory, or a little bit of both. Peanuts can be crushed, ground, chopped, etc. and processed into peanut oil, pastes, powders, flours, and more. Plus, peanuts tend to be much cheaper and easier to grow— underground. Other nuts that grow on trees like pecans, cashews, walnuts, and more can take up acres of orchard space.
Peanuts are widely enjoyed, especially in North America, thanks to pleasant peanut butter and classic traditions. Warm peanuts at a baseball game has been a tradition in America for over 100 years. A dish of peanuts on a bar top in a pub can be a common sight, too. The snack is now ubiquitous in American kitchens and grocery stores.
Legumes Versus Nuts: What’s the Difference?
Legumes and nuts are quite similar, but a little different. Legumes are a type of plant that grows underground and includes peas, soybeans, lentils, chickpeas, and peanuts. Most nuts grow above ground on trees. For culinary purposes, peanuts are considered nuts. It’s even right there in the name! However, the peanut plant grows underground like legumes and boasts health benefits of both legumes and nuts, too.
Because of this, peanuts are different from nuts that grow on trees and are technically legumes: This can be important to understand if you have an allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, or both. The protein structures in peanuts makes its health benefits similar that of tree nuts. Peanuts tend to have a bit more healthy fat, too.
- Both legumes and nuts are high in fiber, healthy fats, and moderately high in protein.
- Both legumes and nuts are essentially the edible kernels, seeds, or fruit of a plant.
- Legumes’ pods are usually edible, like edamame and green beans. Nuts’ shells are usually not edible, like hazelnuts or walnuts.
5 Ways to Eat Peanuts
There is no limit to all of the different ways to eat peanuts! It’s a great addition to any meal of the day or any type of snack. One of the best parts of the versatile nut is that it can be used in sweet or savory dishes. Though there are different varieties of peanuts, any kind will do well in recipes or as a snack. Superior Nut Company offers several varieties of premium peanuts, such as Spanish, Japanese and Virginia Peanuts.
- A breakfast bowl of oatmeal, granola, or yogurt is just right when topped with a sprinkling of crushed peanuts and some fresh berries. Add another type of nut or seed for extra crunch and nutrients.
- A handful of peanuts with a few cubes of cheese and dried or fresh fruit like apples can be a quick last-minute snack.
- Make a peanut sauce to toss with rice noodles and vegetables or use to dip homemade spring rolls. The delicious sauce is traditional in Asian cuisines and easily customizable.
- Homemade chocolate nut clusters are one of our favorite ways to eat peanuts. Simply melt the chocolate, toss in the nuts, and scoop onto parchment paper!
- Peanut crusted protein like this crunchy and flavorful Peanut Crusted Tofu recipe by Darn Good Veggies is a mostly savory dish using peanuts.
Do you prefer sweet foods, savory foods, or a little bit of both? Peanuts, and peanut butter especially, can add either or both flavors to snacks, meals, and desserts. Peanut sauce is a great way to enjoy peanuts on a savory dish with a hint of sweetness. Peanut butter or salted peanuts with chocolate is another example of a satisfying sweet-and-savory treat.
Here at Superior Nut Company, we love all types of premium nuts, including peanuts. In a nutshell, peanuts are just as crunchy, healthy, and tasty as other nuts like tree nuts. The botany of the different nuts, seeds, and fruits we enjoy regularly intersects and allows for interesting interpretations! And any part of a plant with high amounts of protein, fiber, and healthy fats can add a complex and tasty addition to your diet.