out with the mold.

We cut peanuts out of our lives about two years ago. Peanuts, one of the most common food allergens, are not nuts, they are legumes (this has been confirmed by the Mayo Clinic). Thus, an allergy to peanuts is distinct from a nut allergy (children allergic to peanuts are not necessarily allergic to tree nuts such as almonds). No one in our household is allergic, but we've sworn off peanuts for a different reason entirely. The culprit? Aflatoxins. While opponents resoundingly state - aflatoxins are naturally occurring (!) - I personally do not want to eat something, naturally occurring or not, containing the word "toxin." The aflatoxins are in the soil, not the "nut," and, as a result, you may also find it in grains, hay, etc., as well as in dairy produced from a cow which consumed contaminated food. The FDA allows aflatoxin contamination at "low levels" because aflatoxins are considered unavoidable contaminants. The issue with this naturally occurring toxin? It's linked to liver cancer (according to this study, high levels of aflatoxin exposure have been shown to cause hepatitis necrosis) and has been shown to cause cancer in animals.  This apparently requires high levels of exposure, but what exactly is high?

There are certainly some healthy components to peanut butter, which may suffice to counteract all of the bad {not for us}. Peanuts are considered a healthy fat, and regular consumption can lower triglyceride levels. However, peanuts are high in omega 6 (which could disrupt the ever important omega 6 to omega 3 ratio, a topic for another day).  If aflatoxins aren't a concern, organic peanut butter is the best route, since peanuts are one of the most pesticide-laden crops out there. Of course, sometimes peanuts are nearly impossible to resist (ball game anyone?) and I do believe in eating off course every now and then {mainly for Sally O'Neal's}. In the end, aflatoxins are a carcinogenic mold, so we've tossed our JIF and moved on to a tastier alternative.

I used to love peanut butter. Seriously. As in eat peanut butter from the jar with a spoon, love [not as frequently as my husband, but still quite frequently]. So I can relate to that feeling of, no way, not going to happen, not giving up my peanut butter {and distinctly remember the look of disdain I received from my husband when phasing it out of our kitchen}. This almond butter is literally the greatest substitute on earth (I've tried a few, it's by far the closest to peanut butter texture-wise).  Another irresistable favorite is Justin's Chocolate Almond Butter {great Nutella substitute with far less sugar}. The major problem with almond butter? The price tag, of course. A 40 oz. jar of JIF costs about $6. Barney Butter almond butter? Around $8 for 10 oz. Like Ms. Chanel said, "The best things in life are free. The second best are very expensive."

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