Alternatives to the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich

Kelly Burgess

Everyone pictures something different when you mention “the good ol’ days.” For me, I picture picnic lunches that always include a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

PB&J was definitely one of my childhood favorite foods. In fact, I don’t think I ever took anything in my lunchbox other than PB&J until about junior year of high school. Now, peanut butter and jelly reminds me of the slower paced, less stressful times of life. Looking ahead to summer, I definitely hope that more of these kinds of days are in store!

Everybody likes PB&J their own way; options for this sandwich are nearly limitless! White or wheat, grape or strawberry jelly, more peanut butter and less jelly or no jelly at all. However you like your sandwich, there are even more ways to customize it than you may have realized that not only offer a fresh twist, but also several health benefits!

The first set of options comes with the new variety of nut-butter spreads. Classic peanut butter is definitely still the crowd favorite, probably because its easy to find and has a hard to beat price tag. Peanut butter is a great source of protein that also comes along with a healthy dose of monounsaturated (healthy) fat. However, there are other flavors of nut butter available you may come to love equally as much!

Almond butter contains at least 50 percent more monounsaturated fats than peanut butter and has more iron and calcium. Though it doesn’t taste identical to peanut butter, it still has a warm, roasted flavor that is sure to satisfy. If you are feeling extra adventurous, head out to the Community Farmers Market and try a sample or two from Gone Nuts, a Bowling Green company that sells cashew, peanut and specialty nut butter flavors!

The options continue when it comes to substituting for jelly. One of my favorite things to do is replace the jelly with any kind of fresh fruit. Everyone has heard of the “Elvis Presley” style sandwich, which is peanut butter and banana, but I challenge you to get creative and take it a step further! I have been trying different kinds of fruit recently, and have found that fresh strawberry slices, blueberries, or halved blackberries make the perfect sweet addition to the sandwich.

Substituting fruit for jelly will satisfy your taste buds, replace the processed and refined sugars with natural sugars and add extra fiber. Now is the season for fresh strawberries, and blueberry and blackberry season is right around the corner, so no better time to give fresh fruit a try.

More fiber can also come with the choice of whole wheat bread over white bread. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to promote digestive health, stay feeling full longer, and even manage your weight by incorporating fiber.

My not-so-secret ingredient on all of my fancy PB&J’s is cinnamon. Cinnamon is packed with antioxidants that keep your body cells healthy in their daily functioning, promote heart health, and may even prevent some chronic diseases. Cinnamon pairs surprisingly well with the sweet fruit and nutty flavor combination, so give it a try.

Sometimes the simplest things are the best things; keep it classic with your new, classy PB&J!