Peanut is an interesting nut because, not only is peanut the most readily available ground nut in our homes and farms; peanut is also the easiest to get from the market. During long distance travel: At random stopover joints; the most probable item that local traders will be upselling you on, is a packet of peanuts, usually roasted.
Peanut is a type of ground nut or what East Africans call jozi ya ardhini: Which is a family of seeds that ripen underground. Peanut is grown in tropical and subtropical regions across the world.
Peanut, though not an actual nut but a legume like beans, is believed to come from South America at the foothills of the Andes in Bolivia and Peru. Archeological evidence shows cultivation dating back at least 7500 years.
European explorers then took peanut to new worlds, including Africa where peanut became popular in the 1500s, and still remains as the most readily available nut. Short after as N. America was being colonized, enslaved Africans, taken to work in plantations in Virginia, took peanut there.
Today peanuts are cultivated all over the world by both large scale and small scale farmers, with the largest producers being China and India. In Africa Nigeria is the largest producer of peanut.
Known as karanga in Swahili, peanut is known by many names; peanut, ground nut, monkey nut, arachides, mancarra, Mungfali, crioulo, pindar (US), Huasheng (China), goober (US). As a groundnut, the peanut is similar to West Africa’s Bambara groundnut, in culinary and agricultural qualities.
In culinary peanut is the most used nut not only in recipes but also to produce industrial products. You’ll get sauces, soups, smoothie, breads, cakes, cookies, stews, all having peanut as an ingredient. This is because peanut is full of flavor and is easy to blend with other flavors.
From groundnut sauce in Uganda to West African peanut sauce, to the food enthusiast, John Gitari’s, peanut stew. Here’s a quick one, whilst preparing pancake mix batter or chapati dough, add a teaspoonful of peanut butter paste in the mixture, this results to instant improvement of flavor.
There are different types of peanuts and they can be identified by the difference in their skin color: a) red-skin peanut; b) black-skin peanut; c) multicolored –skin peanut; d) white-skin peanut.
In markets, peanut is available as: a whole seed; Roasted, Dry roasted, Boiled, Salted, Unsalted (with honey), without honey, chocolate coated kernels. In most African cities, the street venders are creative in their presentation of mostly roasted peanut. Some use khaki papers to wrap peanut, old newspaper, sealed clear plastic bags and even pouches made from banana barks.
As an industrial product, peanut is available as: peanut oil, peanut butter (bread spread favorite), peanut milk, peanut flakes, peanut flour and peanut tofu sauce, in baked items and as peanut sausage.
Peanut is all good and we also have to tell the old tale about allergies. Peanut is one groundnut that people often develop an allergy to. One of the main reason is because peanuts are introduced too late during development. Peanuts also carry salmonella, a deadly bacteria, most frequently implicated in food poisoning.
Dry roasted peanuts cause the most allergic reactions because, dry roasting method of preparation causes a chemical modification of peanut proteins that seem to activate the immune system.
There are however many reasons why you should add peanut to your diet, as peanut is packed with many health benefits, they are:
- Peanut is a good source of potassium an important mineral that reduces blood pressure.
- Full of proteins, peanut is a great food for building and repairing muscle
- Peanut is a good source of fiber, which leaves you feeling fuller for longer, thus facilitating weight loss.
- Peanut have monosaturated fats that may lower the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Peanut is a good source of Biotin a key nutrient for pregnant women and folate an essential nutrient to female reproductive system.
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