Don’t get us wrong: Peanut butter is a perfectly wonderful use of peanuts. In fact, it’s such a noteworthy food that it overshadows many of the other great peanut coups that can happen in the kitchen, and so today is a day in which to celebrate those other marvelous dishes.

First, though, a brief look at the peanut. As many of us already know, peanuts are actually legumes, not nuts, and they grow under the ground and can be planted to produce a new peanut plant. They are a rich source of protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and perhaps they have a health advantage over peanut butter in that they don’t have the extra oil, sugar, or salt. And, let’s not forget peanuts are a great source of healthy, monounsaturated fat.

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So, while peanut butter will likely not be leaving our lives and hearts any time soon, here are some other ways to get real, whole peanuts on the plate. Also note, that while many recipes call for peanut butter rather than peanuts, it’s easy enough to simply whiz up some healthier, raw, additive-free homemade peanut butter to use in these recipes.

1. Soup It Up

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Dissolving a little peanut butter into a broth makes for a rich and delicious soup, and for a double dose peanuts, add some roasted and crushed nuts as a topping. Peanuts in a soup give some nice textures to appreciate and banging flavor.

2. Get Saucy with Them

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A good peanut sauce is deceptively simple to make, and it works well over noodles, rice, quinoa, or virtually any vegetable. Peanut sauces are crowd pleasers, and they add a bit of decadence to otherwise run-of-the-mill dietary staples.

3. Toss Them Along

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They work in soup, they work in sauce, and they most certainly add some funk to some very delicious salads. They can help make dressings, they can be sprinkled on top, or they can do both. Then again, they can simply be toasted and tossed.

4. Serve Something Sweet

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Peanut butter is quite commonly paired with sweet things: chocolate, jelly, fruit. But, don’t forget that straight peanuts make a dandy candy as well, say crumbled over a piece of seriously snickers-y pie.

5. Make More Milk

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If almonds can do it, and soybeans can do it; then, why can’t peanuts? With a rather rudimentary process — simply soaking and blending with water — a handful of unsalted peanuts can turn into a homespun glass of peanut milk.

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6. Shell and Chuck ‘Em

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Whether it’s at a ballgame, the circus or just a day out at the park, a handful of dry roasted peanuts in the shell just feels right, sets a certain mood that invites a good time. There is something about tossing those empty shells on the floor that is fun.

7. Wok Them Out

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Stir-fried veggies over rice or noodles is one of the simplest but satisfying meals to make. It’s something that can be done in about fifteen minutes and makes for a well-balanced, healthy dish, especially with a little more protein from peanuts.

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8. Smooth Things Out

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Peanut butter is renowned for its prowess in the smoothie world, so for a cleaner version of the same great thing, simply blend up the peanuts first, creating a less fatty take on the grand old classic: Chocolate, peanut butter and banana.

9. Do Them for Dipping

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Set out on the side, peanuts make fantastic dipping sauce for satay, or it can work great beside some spring rolls. It bulks up the flavor and positive calorie count with something healthy and easy to make.

10. Go for Granola

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Homemade granola is great because it allows us to control the ingredients that go in (or don’t go in) it. Other than the standard oat base, peanuts are amongst the cheapest ingredients that can help to bulk up a DIY granola. Of course, the next step is granola bars.

So then, let us all chime three cheers for the peanut. Surely, we’ve only just cracked the shell on the possibilities here. How do you use yours?

Lead Image Source: Raw Peanut Butter Cookies