I pride myself on my willpower; I trust my ability to say no unless I specifically plan for a splurge. There is one indulgence I can’t muster the willingness to bid a long-term farewell to, however. The traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich may not be perfectly nutritious, but damn if it doesn’t own a delicious piece of my heart.
Those elementary school fantasies begin with Smucker’s and Peter Pan slathered across Wonder Bread. I get it; this is a judgment free zone. You didn’t find this blog by searching for “Kapler’s 3 most egregious processed foods,” however. Let’s explore how we can improve your childhood masterpiece. If a healthier version is your aim, you’ve arrived at your desired destination.
Let’s start with the unpleasant but obvious facts. Bread, peanut butter, and jelly are all processed foods. The “A+” rendition of the classic is easy – cut two apples in half from top to bottom and use them as your “bread.” Take the biggest four slices to make two sandwiches. Spread a generous amount of almond butter (natural and organic, featuring two ingredients, almonds and salt) on each apple slice, then top with thin banana slices.
I can end this post right now, correct? I hear the screaming – relax.
I know that using apple slices in place of the bread eliminates this suggestion from consideration as a real PB&J. If the bread is your sticking point, I have an incredibly easy substitute. Take the same ingredients (or even substitute peanut for almond butter) and put them between two slices of this bread. From authoritynutrition.com:
Ezekiel bread is different for several reasons.
Whereas most breads contain added sugar, Ezekiel bread contains none.
It is also made from organic, sprouted whole grains. The sprouting process changes the nutrient composition of the grains significantly.
In contrast to most commercial breads, which consist primarily of refined wheat or pulverized whole wheat, Ezekiel bread contains several different types of grains and legumes:
4 types of cereal grains: Wheat, Millet, Barley and Spelt.
2 types of legumes: Soybeans and Lentils.
All the grains and all the legumes are organically grown and allowed to sprout before they are processed, mixed together and baked to produce the final product.
I can’t award this an A+ food, because we’re still talking about a processed wheat product in the bread. I feel comfortable slapping it with an A-, however, because it’s the best version of bread commercially available. It is, without a doubt, the most nutrient dense but still palatable bread I’ve sampled.
Here’s where I normally sign out, right? Oh, gotcha. You won’t accept my bananas as jelly substitute. You want something that will leave a pretty color streaked across your zip lock in your brown paper bag, don’t you? You romantic, you.
All eight of our Just Fruit Spreads are made with 100% fruit ingredients using concentrated organic grape juice as a sweetener.
I don’t love the concentrated fruit juice, but not every sandwich has to ace the test. You don’t spank your kid (well, not hard, at least) for bringing home a B plus on his arithmetic exam.
We’ve already discussed what you should look for in your nut butters. There’s no excuse for using the peanut butter in which the second ingredient is sugar (I’m looking at you, Jif). Select the all-natural varieties without trans fats, added sugars, or any other nasty ingredients, and buy organic when possible.
We were onto something as children. A PB&J sandwich is going to supply you with Vitamin E, folate, and niacin. We’re deriving important antioxidants, protecting ourselves from damage to our skin and nervous system and helping prevent cardiovascular disease. This is before we even get into the amount of protein provided by our peanut butter, so we can continue building and repairing muscle tissue.
Here’s your takeaway. We all have our cherished food memories from our childhoods that continue to speak to us today. We don’t have to leave them in the past. Skip the “Uncrustables” and challenge yourself to step your creative game up. It’s certainly possible to upgrade a classic to reflect a healthy lifestyle. Just be prepared for the trade offers at the cafeteria lunch table to start rolling in.
Get your box of milk ready,