Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Exciting Experiment

Another food-related post - but this time no photos.

Many of you know that Miss M has some food allergies, including peanuts. In fact, we avoid all nuts, foods processed on equipment that also processes nuts, and foods processed/packaged in a facility in which also processes foods containing nuts. I do a LOT of label reading! You may or may not know that one of my favorite foods is - you guessed it - peanut butter. My favorite candy? Reese's peanut butter cups. I like M&Ms too - and even the nut-free varieties are off limits due to "shared equipment" warnings. In fact, pretty much any candy containing caramel or chocolate, and many types of cookies, cereals, and most granola bars are not a part of our diet due to this restriction. What's a peanut butter lover to do?

When M's allergies were diagnosed, her allergist recommended SunButter as an alternative. It's made from sunflower seeds, so it's a safe alternative. (OK, all you brainiacs, a peanut is technically a legume, and all the other things we avoid are truly nuts - but that's a convo for another day.) I talked with other parents of food-allergic kids, and got another recommendation for SunButter. All of the allergy websites out there listed it as a peanut butter alternative. "It can't be too bad," I thought, so we gave it a try. If you have ever tried SunButter - or any of the generic equivalents that are popping up out there - you know that it's just not the same. It's not bad, just not the same. Personally, I don't think it's good with jelly, but I will eat a plain SB sandwich or toast. The kids love SB&Js. Mister J made the switch very easily, and Miss M has really never known anything else. For my husband, however, we still keep a jar of real PB sequestered on a top shelf - and it only comes down when M is asleep.

"So," you are thinking, "When is she getting to the exciting part?" Right now! I was grocery shopping with the kids a couple of days ago, and we needed more grape jelly. As I do every time I walk down the aisle with the PB and all of the jams, jellies, and preserves, I gazed longingly at the jars of PB. And then I saw it - a jar I had glanced at before, but never seriously considered purchasing. I took it down off of the shelf, read the label again (I had read it at least once before), and put it in my shopping cart. I thought, "Why not give it a try? How bad can it be? And, if we hate it, it even has a satisfaction guarantee on the side...." That jar was soy butter.

I brought it home, set it out on the counter, and kept glancing at it as I put the groceries away, unloaded the dishwasher, reloaded the dishwasher, and started thinking about dinner. When my husband got home he looked at the jar, read the label, and got an expression of doubt that this experiment would turn out well. I waited as long as I could - about 2 hours, max - and finally opened the lid, peeled off the foil inner lid, and scooped up some of the soy butter with the tip of my (clean!) finger. Time for the plunge - just taste it! And, man oh man, was it ever ... good! When Big J came back to the kitchen, I told him to taste it. He wasn't sure if the grin on my face was good or bad, but he was a sport and tried the soy butter. It wasn't just my imagination - he was impressed. Actually, we both wonder a teensy bit if they didn't actually put PB in there by mistake! I haven't given it to the kids yet - I'm afraid that if I do, they won't want to finish the jar of sunflower butter that's still in the pantry! My other worry is that the soy butter has such a similar texture and consistency to PB that if Miss M ever encountered real PB she might not realize the difference - and that would not be good....

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