6 Ways To Build Upon A Nutritional Classic: The PB&J

Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches have been a staple of American society for longer than anyone living can remember. Whether you include them in your child’s lunch at school, make one for lunch yourself, or just eat one as a snack in the afternoon, PB&Js are a quick and easy way to enjoy a great tasting delicacy. In our modern, health-conscious society, however, PB&Js are falling behind other food options in terms of nutritional value. But there are some interesting ways you can spice up your dull PB&J while still enjoying the added benefit of a nutritional diet.

Here are five ways for you to put a nutrient-rich spin on a timeless classic.

1. Go organic.

Since the start of the twenty-first century, American culture has seen a drastic shift in interest from sweet-tasting and convenient fast foods to more organic, less sugary food options. Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me was, no doubt, the start of the decline in popularity of American fast food conglomerates like McDonalds and Burger King. Modern consumers are now shopping for more health alternatives, without significantly sacrificing satisfaction and taste.

That being the case, buying organic peanut butter and jelly is the simplest way to improve upon the nutritional value of your PB&J. Look for peanut butter with only salt and peanuts as the ingredients, and jelly spreads that are made with mostly fruits and not loaded down with sugar or corn-syrup.

2. Add crunch to your peanut butter.

Adding crunch to your peanut butter can go a long way in affecting how much you enjoy it. You can, of course, purchase peanut butter that is also laced with crunched up peanuts, giving you more of a protein-rich meal, but there are other ways to crunch up your peanut butter as well. For example, you can use cashews, almonds, granola, coconut, chia seeds, or goji berries to provide the same crunchy texture you love with the additional value of fiber, cholesterol, and unsaturated fat.

3. Wheat bread instead of white.

A lot of people still prefer to make sandwiches with white bread, but choosing to use wheat bread instead is a great way to increase the nutritional value of your PB&J. Unlike wheat bread, grains that are used to make white bread have been refined and stripped of their nutritional value, removing many of the vitamins, minerals, nutrients, fats, proteins, and fibers that support a healthy diet. But wheat bread doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor. Look for wheat breads that have been infused with honey, contain raisins or nuts, or spread some honey over your bread when you make your PB&J. Any of these options are great for keeping your PB&J healthy without sacrificing the flavor.

4. Spice up your peanut butter.

Adding some flavor to your peanut butter spread is another great way to shake up your classic PB&J. To get some additional protein, try adding some grilled chicken to your peanut butter. Other great additives to consider include spices like cinnamon and cayenne peppers. A great fall-season touch also includes simmering peanut butter with some apple juice (for the fall season) and adding raisins to the peanut butter. Stirring in other fruit jam flavors like pineapple, mango, or peach is another great way to add a sweet flavor to your peanut butter.

5. Use real fruit instead of jelly.

Although jelly provides the bulk of the sweet taste provided by PB&J sandwiches, it is not necessarily the healthiest way to go about getting your sweet fix. Jelly is generally made with a lot of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, so finding alternative options (again, starting with organic jelly) can drastically reduce your sugar intake and help you maintain a more balanced diet. In place of jelly, try using real fruit like strawberries or grapes; they provide the same sweet flavor but have not been processed and stripped of their nutritional value. You can also use dark chocolate as a jelly substitute, which will still provide the sweet flavor you are looking for but with an extra kick of antioxidants.

6. Think non-traditional.

How do you spice up a well-established tradition? You think unconventionally. Just because your mother used standard loaves of bread to make you a PB&J doesn’t mean you can’t revamp the recipe to fit your own standards. Try making a PB&J burrito with flat bread, or using dinner rolls or biscuits. Another great way to do PB&J is by using the peanut butter and jelly as a dip or spread for fruits and vegetables. You could, for example, dip grapes in peanut butter, or add jelly to your celery and peanut butter snack, or use apple slices in place of bread. As long as you can use your imagination, there is no shortage of what varieties you can come up with.