Growing up right next door to the peanut capital of the world in the wiregrass region of Alabama, I’m no stranger to the importance of peanuts and the impact they have had in our great state. I am the proud granddaughter of a peanut farmer who farmed peanuts in Dale County for over 65 years, starting at the young age of 13. My hometown of Enterprise, AL has a statue seated in the center of downtown dedicated to the boll weevil, which crippled the cotton industry and forced farmers to turn to peanuts in order to keep their farms and families alive. The growth of peanut production had a profound impact on the economy, and now approximately half of all peanuts produced in the United States are grown right here in Alabama.
March 1st kicks off National Peanut Month, and what better way to celebrate the crop that turned our state around than with a peanut-themed snack board filled to the brim with all sorts of peanut concoctions and confections! My family loves to make snack boards on the weekend and graze on them all throughout the day. Making a peanut-themed snack board is perfect for getting a good dose of protein and many other nutrients. Peanuts are actually considered a superfood as they deliver superior health benefits in a very small serving. In fact, studies have shown that small amounts of peanut consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Grabbing a handful of lightly salted peanuts to snack on is an excellent choice for your health, and indulging in the goodness of creamy peanut butter cup or peanut butter cookie is certainly good for the soul!
Included in my peanut-themed snack board are peanuts served 4 ways: boiled, roasted, sugar roasted and parched. Each way is deliciously different from the next, and it offers a little something for everybody to accommodate their taste preferences. Boiled peanuts are certainly the way to my heart and will always take first prize in my book, but sugar roasted peanuts come in at a respectable second.
Also included in my peanut-themed snack board is an assortment of peanut goodies, such as peanut butter cookies, peanut butter cups, peanut butter flavored cereal, various peanut candies and a small bowl of peanut butter to spread on graham crackers. Adding a small bowl of jelly to the board is also a fun idea and allows snackers to make their own mini PB&J crackers!
I’ve always felt that peanuts are a part of my DNA. There’s just something so euphoric about pulling fresh peanuts off the vine, cracking open a parched peanut at a ball game, or dropping a batch of green peanuts into a pot to boil. I’ll always remember the amazing smell of the peanut mills driving through my hometown growing up, and I’ll always be grateful for the impact they had on my grandfather’s family as the years went on.
Throughout the month of march, I encourage you to intentionally incorporate peanuts into your diet and to scope out ways to support local farmers and purchase peanuts grown right here in Alabama. It may not be harvest season, but you can still shop local and benefit Alabama farmers by visiting your local co-op to find a variety of peanuts to stock your own peanut-themed snack board!