Jif Peanut Butter is gluten-free, but …

jif jarThe PR agency behind Jif peanut butter has a promotion where they’re asking for the best recipes that include Jif peanut butter. Okay, not a bad idea. When I got a copy of the query I responded that to me the real question is the quality of the food: two of my three children are on gluten-free diets.
To my surprise, they informed me that Jif actually is a gluten-free product. Now, before you say “well, yeah, it’s peanuts and oil”, you should know that just about all foods on the shelf now have the ambiguous “natural flavoring” and that’s often where gluten is hiding, as an additive or flavoring. As I’ve learned, if it doesn’t say “gluten free” you can’t assume that it is, even when the ingredients are listed and there’s nothing that’s obviously a gluten product.
Turns out that Jif, while gluten free, has more ingredients than you might expect:

jif ingredients

The challenge with peanut butter, of course, is to keep it creamy even as the natural tendency of the peanuts is to have the oil separate and the nut butter to coagulate and eventually become this thick glop. I’ve tossed more than one jar of all natural peanuts-only peanut butter for just this reason, and bet you have too.

Nonetheless, they did send along some of the award-winning recipes from the last year they ran this competition and I figure that even if you don’t want to use a peanut butter that has added sugar (why they feel they need to add sugar, I don’t know) (well, I do know: American taste buds, but why parents would buy a peanut butter with added sugar instead of one that’s just peanuts, that’s what I don’t get) the recipes are fun.
I looked through the five on their list and one stuck out as being a really fun idea: Peanut Butter Kabobs, from 8yo Elisabeth from Newnan, Georgia.
Ready for this?
peanut butter kabobKabob:
2 slices of high fiber bread
2 Tablespoons Jif Creamy Peanut Butter
1 Tablespoon Smucker’s Squeeze Strawberry Jam
1 thinly sliced strawberry
1 whole strawberry
2-inch cut piece of banana
2-inch cut piece of celery
1 apple slice
1 wooden skewer
Peanut flax dip:
2 Tablespoons Jif peanut butter
2 Tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon milled flax seed
½ teaspoon vanilla
Spread the peanut butter and jam on one piece of bread and lay the thinly-cut strawberry pieces across the bread. Top with the other slice of bread and press down gently. Use a small cup or small circle-shaped cookie cutter to cut out four circles from the sandwich, thus making mini sandwiches. Layer the skewer, alternating between the circle sandwiches and the fruit and celery.
Peanut flax dip:
Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth. Serve Jif-kabob with dip on the side for the fruit and celery. Cut remaining pieces of fruit and celery to eat with the dip.

I don’t think we’ll use Jif in my household – I don’t think my kids need the extra refined sugar – but I do think we might just try this crazy kabob idea.

Still, I’ll leave you with this thought: how carefully do you actually read ingredients? How thoughtful are you about the foods you put into your own body and your kids bodies?

10 comments on “Jif Peanut Butter is gluten-free, but …

  1. Dave –
    I’m sure you already know this, but (being the obsessive foodie and label reader that I am) you have way more to worry about than just sugar in peanut butter like Jif. Peanuts, being a ground nut contain one of the highest concentrations of pesticides and agricultural chemicals from soil. We do eat quite a bit of peanut butter, but ONLY organic. BTW, make sure you don’t eat raw peanuts, only roasted, because almost all peanuts also contain a carcinogenic mold that is destroyed by the roasting process. You can ask Harold McGee about that if you want…:)

  2. If you stir up a jar of “natural” peanut butter and then just keep it in the fridge, it won’t separate. Even “fully hydrogenated” vegetable oils contain some percentage of oils molecules that aren’t trully fully hydrogenated, and therefore land in the trans-fat pile.

  3. — I contacted J.M. Smucker Company and I talked with a representative who said that Jiff creamy peanut butter was made with gluten-free ingredients. However, when they transport Jiff it can become cross-contaminated because of the shipping containers. I was not sure what this meant, as the more I thought about it I pictured Jiff shipping it’s product as a big blob in the container of an 18 wheeler getting cross-contaminated with the wheat that they hauled yesterday. And then I pondered….don’t they make Jiff at Smuckers AND pack it in containers and then ship it?
    — And the guy I talked to kept talking in lawyer-speak and I had to bring him back to the real world….back to Average Joe Schmoe language.
    — Not that I have anything bad to say about Jiff. Jiff is the best peanut butter bar none, but it took a while to get straight answers.
    — If someone has questions always call the number on the label BEFORE consuming a product. You will thank yourself later. A little self-discipline can save a lot of painful suffering.

  4. Hi everyone,
    I just want to respond to label reading…if your not aware the FDA only requires that a food contain less than 2% of gluten ingredients in order to call it gluten free. There are so many processed foods that claim and say they are gluten free when in actuality they aren’t. For someone (like me) who is full blown Celiac 2% is lethal. There are way too many hidden ingredients….but I believe there is hope. We are finally starting to get a voice. Not only for Celiacs but for gluten sensitive and intolerant….which all of us were before we developed Celiac!

  5. @ Jennifer… soo.. is Jif safe or not? I have a 3 year old with Autism. I have heard a lot about putting him on a GF/CF diet. I have NO clue what I can or can’t feed him. I have read so many different articles and opinions…. uggg…

  6. Melissa,
    I have a son with autism too so I feel your pain. He is on a gluten and casein free diet. I try to keep things very simple: organic fruit and veggies with grass fed meats. For snacks we’ll do organic fruit bars that are gluten free. I’m not sure if you know this, but soy also acts similar to casein. When I took soy out of his diet, I noticed a big difference. As far as peanut butter, i would take a look at the organic brands. My son is thin so this may be a nice addition. Hope this helps.

  7. Is there a Gf product freeof anything just peanuts, that is one that smoothes other than your natural one?

  8. So both of your chidren have celiac disease? How do you provide forall your family needs? do you & your wife eat GF all day, you can only eat low sodium fritos for so long?

  9. If you make your own peanut butter you can avoid this nonsense altogether. It’s not hard. Put peanuts in a food processor and let it go on high for 3-5 minutes. Voila! You have peanut butter with no questions about what’s in it. No extra oil, sugar or other additives. We’ve been making our own since my son had to go GF and we love it.

  10. I don’t understand how Jiff can be cross contaminated by being hauled in a truck that possibly carried wheat. The jars are sealed inside. Couldn’t one simply wash their Jar of PB before opening to insure there are no particles on the outside?

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