A Nutty Nutritional Boil - Food Thoughts with Sheryl Estrada

A visit to the Stuart Green Market in Stuart, Fla. on a Sunday means it's boiled peanut time. I do partake in the fresh produce offerings. But, for me the highlight of this small market is Barbi's Boiled Peanuts. When you walk up to Barbi's Boiled Peanuts stand, she first asks whether or not you have ever eaten them. If not, she offers a sample of her three varieties resting in crock pots: Cajun, spicy or regular. She explains how to open the shell without crushing the peanut, has a bowl for the shells when you're finished and a towel handy so you can wipe your hands.

The green peanuts, once raw, have a soft consistency after boiling. It kind of reminds me of a kidney bean, but the peanut flavor remains, enhanced by whatever spices you choose to boil them in.

Boiled peanut culture has thrived in the Southern U.S. since the 19th century. It's actually the official snack food of South Carolina. Peanuts are also consumed greatly in the boiled form in Asia and Western Africa.

I was surprised by some of the nutritional benefits. For example, boiled peanuts have the highest levels of resveratrol, compared to raw, roasted peanuts or peanut butter, according to a 1999 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Resveratrol, an antioxidant, is released from the boiling of the shell, and is absorbed by the peanut. Also found in red wine from red grape skin, it is said to have promising heart-healthy benefits, such as reducing "bad" cholesterol and preventing blood clots. Boiled peanuts also have high concentrations of the B vitamin folic acid.

It's amazing how one of the simplest foods is not only good for the wallet, but can be good for the body. If you can't get to Barbi, there are canned versions of boiled peanuts available in grocery stores. Or, you can also prepare them at home in a crock pot or on the stove top. Though, I must warn you, they can be quite addictive.

Further explore the boiled peanut in Chef Samuelsson's, "New American Table."