Wild Amazon Peanuts are a legume, not a nut, and as such every traditional culture that eats peanuts eats them cooked, most often boiled, sometimes roasted. This is because beans are pretty hard to digest raw, although some beans are snacked on when green from the plant, like string bean.
Peanuts in India, China, Africa, and Indonesia
In India peanuts, called groundnuts in British and Irish English, are boiled with salt and turmeric and taken as a snack, while in China and Vietnam, the same, sans turmeric.
But in India peanuts are also roasted and added to potatochippy kinds of snacks made from chickpea flower and rice, called "mixture" and roasted peanuts spice up various rice dishes in South India, like lemon rice, adding both flavor and valuable protein, fat, and minerals.
In Africa, too, peanuts are eaten boiled, but they also roast and puree peanuts and use them in soups and sauces with both squash and meat like goat.
Indonesians use roasted ground peanuts in sauces that resemble spicy diluted peanut butter, like the famous Gado Gado.
Small amounts of roasted peanut, whole or ground into powder, find themselves on occasion in Vietnamese or Southern Chinese deserts with tapicoa pearls, jackfruit, mango, coconut milk and sea jelly, adding crunchy toasted flavor as well as nutrients.
Role of Digestive Fire in Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda
The idea of digestion in both Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, is that it is a warm process of extraction, transformation and transportation of Qi and Blood out of crude materials. Food becomes energy in the body, quite literally, because of our digestive fire. Respecting the digestive fire means eating a diet that is not too cold, bland, or heavy.
This is something traditional cultures, full of grandmother wisdom, understood, and its why they all cook their peanuts.
The Problem with Peanut Butter
Peanut butter, which was invented and developed by a few people in the latter stages of the 19th century right up until the 1920's, when Skippy peanut butter, full of unhealthy hydrogenated fat, was patented in 1895 by the naturopath Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (the creator of Kellogg’s cereal) who developed a process for creating peanut butter from raw peanuts. He marketed it as a healthy protein substitute for patients without teeth.
The problem with peanut butter as a food is that it is extremely dense, heavy, and oily, to the point of being hard to digest. It just sits in the stomach like lead. Peanut butter is one of the many food innovations, like ice water, that American eat that are damaging to Agni digestive fire.
I don't recommend peanut butter to any of my patients, and even saw one patient with stomach ulcer recover when he stopped eating peanut butter, and added spices like cumin and fennel to his diet.
If you love peanut butter, try cooking with it, as in the African style winter squash soup in which squash is boiled and then pureed with peanut butter and spices like sauteed onion and curry powder. But even that dish is much more digestible if made by boiling whole peanuts with the squash and pureeing them well.
Here is a fun article with all the straight dope on peanuts "peanut-butter-history"
Wild Amazon Jungle Peanuts
Which leads me to the Wild Jungle Peanuts I had recently in coastal Oaxaca, in Mexico. Something very different from the raw peanuts I have seen in USA, that I don't find digestible without cooking.
The were bright tasting, creamy, and rich in flavor, and I had them for breakfast both toasted on a pan, but also raw, with pumpkin seeds and goji berry and fresh fruit. Those peanuts I bought from some Zapotec women at the public market, who also grind them and mix them with Masa to make delicious toasted corn tortillas.
I have found wild peanuts on line from the Amazon jungle in Ecuador, harvested by the Shaur Indigenous folk, that are similar to the ones I had in Mazunte, in the Costa Chica of Oaxaca. The purveyors claim they are grown in a sustainable way. For some reason they seem to be quite easy to digest raw. I have experimented only with myself, and in Ayurvedic terms I have strong Agni digestive fire, so if you don't, I would recommend using them boiled or roasted, and in small quantities at a time.
There are several brands for sale on Amazon, this is the cheapest, as of June, 2017, Wilderness-Poets-Organic-Jungle-Peanuts Here is another good brand I have liked: Sunfood-Amazonian-Jungle-Peanuts-Organic/
I have found both brands to be fresh and delicious, even taken raw in small amounts.
Nutritional Benefits of Wild Amazon Peanuts
Peanuts are quite high in healthy fats, low in carbs, high in both vitamins and minerals, such as biotin, copper, niacin, folate, manganese, vitamin E, thiamin, phosphorous, and magnesium.
For more details on the nutritive elements in peanuts/groundnuts look at Peanut Nutrition .
copyright Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. San Diego, CA June 2017 All Rights Reserved, Use With Permission
Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego http://www.bodymindwellnesscenter.com