Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Who doesn’t love a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich?? It’s a classic! When I was growing up, my version of a PB&J was two slices of Wonder bread, a layer of Skippy peanut butter (creamy not chunky) and a layer of Smuckers strawberry jelly. Brings back memories, doesn’t it? So why mess with a classic? Because I think we can make it even better!
It pretty much goes without saying that my diet has changed ALOT since then. I haven’t had my version of a PB&J in a long time, but I still love a great nut butter. It is such a quick and easy way to integrate healthy sources of protein, fat, and vitamins into my diet.
Nowadays, when you walk down the aisle in the grocery store, you will be amazed at the variety of nut and seed butters that are available. Although peanut butter was one of the first in the way of “nut butters,” it’s definitely not my first choice. By the way, did you know that peanuts are not even a nut? That’s right, they are actually a legume! Peanuts are also high on the list of genetically modified foods so let’s ditch the peanut butter and try one of these instead!
1. Almond butter – it’s no surprise that almond butter is at the top of the list. Almond butter is probably the most common nut butter that you will find on the shelf. It’s high in fiber, magnesium, calcium and iron. It’s also really good for your heart health and your brain function.
2. Sunflower seed butter – this is probably one of the most inexpensive of the butters and because it is a seed, it’s great for people with nut allergies. Sunflower seed butter is high in Vitamin E.
3. Cashew butter – due to their creamy texture, cashews and cashew butter are often used as a substitute for dairy in recipes. They are high in calcium which is another reason why they are a great substitute for dairy!
4. Macadamia nut butter – mac nuts are one of my favorites. They have gotten a bad rap because of their high fat content, but it is monounsaturated fat which is a healthy fat. Macadamia nuts are also high in iron. I like to throw a bunch in a food processor and make a quick mac nut “parmesan cheese” that I use as a topping on almost everything!
5. Walnut butter – walnuts are one of the highest sources of omega-3 oils so it supports healthy brain function, stabilizes blood sugar and boosts your overall mood.
6. Tahini – tahini is ground sesame seed butter and is rich in iron and calcium. Tahini can also boost your absorption of Vitamin E.
7. Coconut butter – coconut butter is ground coconut meat. I LOVE coconut butter and use it in my smoothies and my chocolates. It is loaded with fiber and healthy fats and tastes delicious!
8. Cacao butter – I know you have heard of cacao, but you may not be familiar with cacao butter. It is the pure cacao oil that is extracted from cacao nibs. Cacao butter is a beautiful cream color in its solid form then turns into a golden liquid when heated at low temperature. Cacao butter can be used as a replacement for butter or oil in any recipe and it is especially good in desserts. It has anti-inflammatory properties similar to cacao.
9. Pecan butter – this is another one of my fav’s. It is a little on the sweet side so it pairs well with cookies or desserts. Super creamy and luscious, pecan butter is high in magnesium, Vitamin A and E.
When buying nut butters, be sure to check the ingredients because some companies add sugar and unhealthy oils to their nut butters. If you take a look at a jar of Skippy peanut butter, you will see high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated corn oil on the ingredient list…..yuk! A good quality nut butter should have only one ingredient – nuts! I always go for ones labeled raw, sprouted and organic. The photo below shows the brands that I buy.
Since we are trying to make a healthier version of our beloved PB&J, you definitely want to ditch the Smuckers. Most commercial jellies are total sugar bombs. Not only do you have the natural sugars from the fruit but most jams and jellies are usually chock full of high fructose corn syrup. Even “organic” jams have some type of cane sugar. One way to get around that would be to make your own. I know you’re probably thinking that sounds like way too much work, but I came across this recipe here that is pretty easy to prepare. You use a couple dates as a sweetener and chia seeds as a thickener. In about 10-15 minutes you can have a healthy homemade jam!
Last but not least, the bread. I have been gluten free for many years and pretty much gave up on trying to find a good gluten free bread. Either they had lots of sugar and fillers in them or they were dry and tasteless. But last year I finally found one that I think is pretty good. It’s called Happy Campers and I buy it at Natural Grocers. I also love to use tortillas instead of bread and Siete makes a great tortilla using coconut flour, cassava flour and almond flour. If you are not gluten free, give the Happy Campers a try. I think you’ll like it. And if there is anyone out there still eating Wonder bread, give me a call because we definitely need to chat 🙂
There you have it. We just made a healthier version of our beloved PB&J. Creating healthier versions of your favorite recipes is a great way to enjoy all your favorite foods without the guilt. So play around with some of these suggestions and let me know what you think. I would love to hear what you’ve created.
Did you know I offer a complimentary 30 minute consultation session? We can spend time looking at your favorite comfort food recipes and make them healthier. Hit reply and let’s chat!