National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day (April 2) honors the lunchbox classic but also encourages you to reduce your environmental impact by going animal product free for a meal or two. PB&J happens to be a low carbon footprint choice since it includes no dairy, meat, or eggs. It’s packed with fiber, healthy fat, and some protein which makes it a great choice for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Still, sometimes a variation on a classic is a good thing, especially if it means making it an even healthier choice. So here are 10 ways to make your kids’ peanut butter and jelly sandwich even better for them (and the planet!). After all, in the immortal words of President James Garfield, “Man cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter.”
Read Related: National PB&J Day: Peanut Butter & Jelly French Toast
1. Use a sugar-free fruit spread instead of jelly. If you haven’t replaced your traditional “jelly” with a 100% fruit spread or low-sugar alternative, it’s time. Many jams and spreads are made of simply fruit, so take the time and read some labels next time you go to the store. You won’t regret trimming just a bit of the extra, unnecessary sweetener from your sandwich.
2. Make it with whole grain bread. Who’s still eating white bread? Anybody? Good, we didn’t think so!
3. Try reduced fat peanut butter. If you’re watching your fat intake for a medical reason or are concerned about an excess of Omega-6 fatty acids, check out reduced fat peanut butter. It still has all the flavor, but less oil. Be sure to read labels though, as some companies increase sugar or add high fructose corn syrup in order to reduce fat.
4. Use all-natural peanut butter. “Natural” peanut butters typically only include peanuts and salt on the ingredient list. If you’re “eating clean” and avoiding additional chemicals or artificial products, check out all-natural peanut butters. The newest ones on the market no longer require refrigeration, which is a huge bonus.
5. Substitute almond butter for peanut butter. Remember those Omega fatty acids we were talking about? Almond butter has the better ones (Omega 3’s) so check it out if you’re concerned.
6. Try agave nectar instead of jelly. Agave nectar is just as sweet as honey (even sweeter, actually) but has less of an impact on your blood sugar due to its lower glycemic index. A tiny bit will give you all the sweetness you need in your sandwich of choice.
7. Add bananas. Bananas are rockstar fruits and they taste amazing with peanut butter! Why not add a small one, sliced neatly, to your sandwich? You’ll get some added fiber and potassium for an extra hundred calories or so.
8. Don’t go overboard on the PB and J. There is no reason why the innards of your sandwich should ooze out of the boundaries of your bread. So eat a nice and neat sandwich and save yourself some calories and fat.
9. Use apple slices as the bread and jelly. Yes, we know this is basically just an apple cut creatively with some peanut butter spread on it but we loooooooove it so much, so it counts!
10. Substitute pear slices for the jelly. You can use pretty much any fruit as a fresh, lower sugar alternative to jelly. We love strawberries, pears, or sliced grapes.