Building a Better PB & J

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Georgia Cancer SpecialistsWho doesn’t love a PB & J sandwich? I suppose if you have a nut allergy, then it’s not an option, but for me, it’s a classic comfort food.

Yesterday was a long day. I walked in the door at 9:30 p.m. and had not eaten dinner. My saving grace? PB & J.

When my budget gets tight, and I need to watch my spending for a week, PB & J is my go-to lunch or dinner.

If I know I have a long day on the road – for fun or for work – PB & J is a great sandwich to pack for the road that doesn’t spoil quickly (especially in the winter or if kept in a cooler bag!)

And P.S. – it also travels well on long days at the doctor’s office, on days when you get chemo, and doesn’t have a strong odor that could bother those around you. If you’ve ever been getting an infusion with someone eating tuna next to you, you know what I mean.

Perhaps you are thinking, “A dietitian is telling me to eat PB & J? Is she crazy?”

Like many popular foods, PB & J can be made better. Just a little more forethought does wonders to pack a nutritional punch to this sandwich.

Where to begin?

  1. Choose a high-quality bread. I personally like Ezekiel bread (in the freezer section) – made from sprouted grains with no added sugar or high fructose corn syrup. It’s a great source of fiber, and the sprouted grains make the nutrients more bio-available! If you want to get more adventurous, toast the bread, and watch the peanut butter melt as you spread. My mouth is watering as I write this. Yum.
  2. Go natural. Buy natural peanut butter.Commercial brands often have unhealthy oils, sugar and salt added. Look for “natural” peanut butter with the oil sitting on top in stores. Read the ingredients to find one that only contains peanuts. There is no need to add other ingredients. And if you can grind it yourself at your local grocery, even better! Intimidated by stirring in the separated oil? Store the jar upside down until you open it and voila – the oil moves to the bottom of the jar making blending a breeze.
  3. Try other nut butters. I have a new love. A recent visit to Whole Foods introduced me to freshly ground almond butter and there’s no turning back. It tastes exactly like crushed almonds – just as it should. If you are a little more adventurous, try making your own nut butter at home in your food processor.
  4. Pick a fruitful jam. My favorite combination is peanut or almond butter with homemade blackberry jam. If you don’t make your own, look for a product at the store with as few ingredients as possible – and preferably one that doesn’t have sugar listed as the very first ingredient. I like Smuckers Orchard’s Finest (four ingredients) and Dickinson’s Purely Fruit(four ingredients as well).
  5. Add fruit. Bananas, pears and berries all mix well with nut butters. You can add fruit to your version of PB & J, or substitute the “J” all together with fruit. Want to experiment? Try this Almond Butter & Fruit Sandwich with pears and raspberries from last October’s Health magazine.

What’s your favorite version? Tell us on Facebook!

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