When you think about peanut butter, you probably think about toast in the morning, PB&J at lunchtime, or a spoonful on a banana before workouts. But peanut butter for dinner? Not so much.
Hear us out, though. Peanut butter (particularly the all-natural, no-sugar-added kind) is truly a do-it-all pantry staple—and it can totally be used at dinnertime.
“Peanut butter is a plant-based protein source that’s also rich in fiber and heart healthy unsaturated fats,” says dietitian Charlotte Martin, M.S., R.D.N., C.P.T. “It’s also a good source of magnesium, which is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body.”
So, yeah, your peanut butter addiction is totally warranted—and it’s about time you enjoyed your favorite spread in the evening, too. Here, dietitians recommend six (yes, six!) different healthy dinners to make with good ol’ PB.
1. Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai
This lightened up twist on a classic favorite is perfect when you’re craving an Asian-inspired bite.
“First, swap zucchini noodles in for traditional rice noodles to reduce calories and total carbs,” Martin suggests. Cook zucchini noodles in a skillet with olive oil until crisp-tender, about three to five minutes. Then, mix in your favorite protein, like chicken or shrimp.
From there, use peanut butter to make a creamy, slightly spicy sauce. Just whisk together peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, honey, and Sriracha (or crushed red pepper) to taste. Add the sauce to your skillet until everything is warmed through and, voila, you’ve got an easy, nutritious weeknight meal.
2. Thai Rainbow Chopped Salad
Thai chopped salads are famously colorful and full of peanut flavor. “The peanut butter comes into play here in a similar way to the Pad Thai dish, but instead of a warm sauce, it’s in a cold dressing form,” says Martin.
Start by chopping and mixing a variety of raw veggies together, like lettuce, purple cabbage, shredded carrots, red bell pepper, and green onion.
Then, create your peanut salad dressing by mixing together peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, honey or maple syrup, and some coconut milk, to taste, Martin suggests.
Top your salad off with your favorite protein (Martin’s go-to is shredded rotisserie chicken).
3. Peanut Chickpea Curry
Curry sauces are easy to make and packed with nourishing flavor and spice. Martin likes to make curry with a sauce made of peanut butter, canned coconut milk, red curry paste, and soy sauce, to taste. Then, she adds protein and veggies to bring together the dish.
“Heat the sauce in a skillet with some canned chickpeas, which are a plant-based protein also rich in fiber,” says Martin. “Then, add sliced red bell pepper and serve over brown rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, or a combo.”
Martin also recommends adding other frozen or fresh veggies you have on hand, such as broccoli or sweet potato for extra nutrients and flavor.
4. Frozen Veggie Stir-Fry
Stocked up on frozen veggies? Meet your perfect meal.
Toss whatever veggies you have on-hand into a wok or large stir-fry pan. As they cook, whip up a sauce.
“You can easily mix peanut butter with some pantry ingredients to make a spicy stir-fry sauce,” says dietitian Kelly Jones, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., L.D.N. “One of my go-to meals is stir-fry with a sauce made of peanut butter, sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, chili paste or gochujang, and dried spices such as ginger, garlic, and onion powder.”
From there, just combine your veggies and sauce with a grain or noodle. (When in doubt, just follow along with Jones’ Spicy Peanut Tofu Stir Fry recipe.)
5. Chicken Satay
“Satay is a popular Asian street food that typically involves marinated meat or poultry that’s skewered and grilled, then served with a dip,” explains Martin.
To make your own chicken satay, marinate boneless, skinless chicken thigh chunks in canned coconut milk, yellow curry powder, and soy sauce, she says. Then put it on skewers and grill it. (Don’t eat chicken? Marinate and grill or bake skewered blocks of tofu.
While your chicken grills, make an easy peanut-lime dipping sauce by mixing peanut butter with lime juice, chili garlic sauce, honey, and ginger, Martin suggests.
When your protein is ready, serve it up with your sauce and favorite grilled vegetables for a nutritious, balanced meal.
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6. Adult PB&J
Craving some nostalgia for dinner? Have yourself a PB&J sandwich, but make it fancy.
“For an adult PB&J, grab some sprouted grain bread and spread your favorite peanut butter on one side,” says Jones. “Then, add frozen blueberries to a pan and cook them until they reduce to a thick sauce.”
From there, spread the berry mixture over the other slice of bread and top it with hemp seeds for extra iron and protein. You can also add your favorite granola for crunch, Jones suggests.
Finally, slap on your PB-covered bread and enjoy.