One of my all time favorite snacks and go to meals when I am traveling is a Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich. I think that its the perfect blend of savory, salty and sweet and the bread provides the carbs and there is a bit of nostalgia that makes this such a comforting treat. However, the traditional version can pack tons of sugar, calories, and preservatives, and this is where many people make the wrong turn. So I wanted to share with you how I make mine healthier.
There are 3 ingredients, so the key is to ensure that you choose the best options for each:
- The Bread: So, I feel like I shouldn’t have to say it, but i’ll say it anyway…NO WHITE BREAD ALLOWED! There is really no nutritional value and if you are serving this to kids, you are pumping them full of sugar and preservatives that will do more harm than good. Instead I opt for a WHOLE GRAIN BREAD. Unfortunately, just because a bread looks like it’s whole grain, please make sure to check the labels for your bread, as many times the bread manufacturers still add a lot of refined and processed carbs, sugars, and preservatives to the bread. Also, check the labels to make sure that “sugar” (or one of it’s cousins) are not in the top 3 ingredients. Here are a few of my favorite bread selections – Food For Life Ezekiel Bread, Sprouted Whole Grain, Eureka Organic Bread, Dave’s Killer Bread.
- The Peanut Butter: PB is simply ground peanuts (or other nuts or seeds if you are allergic), so when looking for a healthier option of peanut butter, just look at the label, the only ingredient should be Peanuts. Maybe salt, if you like that extra depth, but if the nut butter has anything else – sugar, palm oil or other ingredients that you don’t recognize – leave it alone. If you are feeling fancy, you can always make your own at your local grocery store, it’s a bit pricier, but to be honest I’ve found great brands that are tasty and pure peanut butter – Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter, Adam’s 100% Natural Peanut Butter.
- The Jelly: Actually, your first step should be to switch from Jelly to “Jam” or “Preserves” or “Fruit Spread”, where the process is more natural and doesn’t include gelatin or other preservatives to make that gelatinous consistency. However, there are not many jams on the market that don’t sugar in them, which makes me sad, so I just aim to ensure that the ingredients are minimal, the fruit is the main attraction (#1 on the list) and that the sugar content is less than 8g of sugar. My all time go to is Trader Joe’s Organic Strawberry Fruit Spread, it’s sweetened with grape juice and it’s so good. If you are a Costco member, the Kirkland brand is pretty good, if not just use discretion and check labels.
As I said, this classic trio has been a life saver for me when I’m running around, after a workout, on the road, floating on the Russian River with friends, being snuck into a convention center for the Beachbody Coach Summit, or simply when I want something sweet, savory, and comforting. The key is to make the best choices possible, check labels to ensure that it truly is “Natural” and not full of junk. Also, if you are allergic to gluten or peanuts, feel free to experiment with gluten free options and look for different nut or seed butters. Now go pour a glass of Almond Milk and make a PB&J!