Legumes: Healthy Ways to Use Peanuts & Peanut Products

Peanuts are rich in fiber, protein and folate. While they are prepared and eaten as a nut, they are actually botanically a legume.

Sand and Succotash | All About Peanuts

Peanuts are great sources of fiber, protein, folate and other vitamins. While they are prepared, eaten and served just like a nut, they are really a legume. Peanuts come from the Leguminosae botanical family, which includes many other flowering plants and legumes. Peanuts and peanut butter are both easy, portable sources of nutrition and are perfect for vegetarian menus.

Peanut butter and plain peanuts are used in a variety of ways in healthy cooking. Their high protein makes most peanut products a good choice for curbing an appetite, and will keep you fuller longer than a carbohydrate-rich snack. Stir peanut butter into cream cheese for a quick dip for apple slices and celery sticks. Spread peanut butter over bagels and toast rather than using a butter spread. Chopped roasted and plain peanuts also make a quick addition for breads and stir fry dishes, giving crunch, flavor and a nutritional punch to the dish or recipe.

Growing Peanuts

This unique legume can be home grown in the garden from raw peanuts themselves, which are available from specialty health food stores, or online markets. Plant them in early spring, when there will be no danger of frost, with temperatures above 65 degrees. They prefer a depth of around 4 inches when first planted, lightly packed, with a spread of around 6 inches apart with the individual rows spread up to 36 inches apart. Since they have a long tap root, it will be necessary to have a well-tended subsoil. They like warm weather, and require a dry curing before storing or being used.

Peanut Trivia

  • Peanuts are actually a legume from the Leguminosae family.
  • There are four different types of peanuts: Runner, Virginia, Spanish, Valencia.
  • Peanuts are mainly grown in these 10 states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virgina.
  • According to the American Peanut Council, peanuts are the United States’ 12th most valuable cash crop – with a farm value of over 1 billion dollars.
  • Most peanuts grown in the US are grown for eating or processed for food use with about half of all peanut products eaten being peanut butter.
  • George Washington Carver was a botanist who found the importance of peanuts being used as a rotation crop, and came up with many different ways to use peanuts including recipes, clothing dye, condiments and wood stains.

Peanut and Peanut Product Nutrition from the USDA:

  • 1 oz peanuts contains 68 mcg Folate, 200 mg Potassium, 107 mg Phosphorus, 48 mg Magnesium and over 7 g of protein.
  • 1 oz roasted peanuts contains almost 7 g of protein, 3.8 mcg Niacin, 50 mcg Magnesium and 166 calories.
  • 2 tablespoons creamy style peanut butter contains 188 calories, 8 g protein, over 7 grams Monounsaturated fat, 24 mcg Folate, 208 mg Potassium, 115 mcg Phosporus, 49 mg Magnesium and 14 mg Calcium.

Peanuts make easy additions to salads. Try a Cabbage and Cilantro Slaw with Peanut Dressing using creamy peanut butter and dry roasted peanuts. A dish made of Grilled Tofu and Asian Slaw Salad with Edamame uses healthy peanut oil and dry roasted peanuts.


  • USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
  • “Types of Peanuts.” Virginia Carolinas Peanut Promotions. 21 March, 2011. Web. Date of access 02 April, 2011.
  • “Technical Information.” Peanut Standards & Specifications. American Peanut Council. Web. Date of access 02 April, 2011.
  • Carver, George W. “How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption.” AgriLive Extension Texas A&M. January 1940. Web. Date of access 02 April, 2011.

Cabbage and Cilantro Slaw with Peanut Sauce

Crisp and fresh tasting slaw with a peanut dressing. Honey, rice vinegar and soy sauce are key to giving the peanut dressing the characteristic sweet and tangy flavor.

Sand and Succotash | Cabbage and Cilantro Slaw with Peanut Sauce

Cabbage and Peanuts

Cabbage is the main ingredient in this recipe and is an excellent vegetable for creating salads. It has crunch, deep flavors, and pairs nicely with dressings and vinaigrettes with sweet, tangy or vinegary flavors. Cabbage is also a great source of Vitamin C and Vitamin K. Raw cabbage contains much needed dietary fiber and folate.

Peanuts and peanut butter contain Magnesium, Niacin and Vitamin E. Peanuts are good sources of protein, high in folate, a B vitamins.

Peanut Botanical Information

Peanuts are grown underground, and not on trees like other tree nuts like walnuts, almonds, and filberts. While they function and are prepared much like a nut, botanically they are not a nut. Peanuts are legumes coming from the Leguminosae botanical family. There are four different types of peanuts. The Runner type is the most popular peanut grown in the US, and according the American Peanut Council this type makes up about 80% of total peanut production in five different states. The other three peanut types are Virginia (large kernel sold in shell), Spanish (small kernel with characteristic reddish skins) and the Valencia (small kernel popularly prepared fresh).

This salad contains green cabbage, peanut butter, and dry roasted peanuts. The dressing pairs sweet Hoisin sauce and honey with tangy soy sauce and rice vinegar for a sweet and sour flavor. Cilantro, carrots, green onions and parsley are added for color and flavor. While this is great on its own, the salad can be served with grilled chicken for an easy and light dinner salad. The recipe makes about 8 servings, and is best served fresh preserving the crunch in the cabbage.

Cabbage and Cilantro Slaw with Peanut Sauce
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  1. 6 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
  2. 1 cup finely shredded carrots
  3. 2/3 cup dry roasted peanuts
  4. 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  5. 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  6. 2 sliced green onions, both white and green parts
Dressing Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  2. 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  3. 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  4. 2 tablespoons honey
  5. 2 tablespoons water
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons Hoisin sauce
  1. Place the shredded green cabbage in a bowl. Add in the peanuts, shredded carrots, chopped fresh cilantro and Italian parsley, and green onions.
  2. Prepare the dressing by whisking the peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, water and Hoisin sauce together until smooth.
  3. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and peanuts. Toss to coat all the vegetables well.
  4. Serve.
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About the Peanut Industry. American Peanut Council. PeanutsUSA.com. Accessed 31 March, 2010.

Cabbage and Peanut Nutrition information provided by the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

Information about the Family Leguminosae. International Legume Database and Information Service. ildis.org. Accessed 31 March, 2010.

Peanut FAQs. The Peanut Institute. Peanut-Institute.org. Accessed 31 March, 2010.