As a child my most favorite lunch was peanut butter and jelly – I literally think I ate it every day in grade school. Just because you are trying to eat healthy, does not mean you need to give up your favorites! With a few minor tweaks, you can make a much healthier version of that old PB&J you loved as a child (and come on….who doesn't still LOVE the PB&J??!!).
Old school PB&J was typically made with white bread (or in my family Italian white), regular peanut butter like Skippy or Jif and my favorite was always strawberry jelly. What would happen if you just swapped out these for some healthier options like sprouted whole grain bread, natural peanut butter (almond butter works well too) and natural fruit preserves?
Let's take a look:
|Calories (per slice)||90||80|
Assuming you are using 2 slices of bread, there is very little difference in total calories (only about 35 calories less in the healthier option), but remember not all calories are created equal! It is all about the quality of the calories and you are getting a way better bang for your calories with the healthier version. Going with the healthier option and you are eating at least 9g less sugar, 5g more fiber, 3g more protein and over 200mg less sodium.
Afraid of all the fat? First of all, fat from nuts are not bad for you. Most commercial peanut butters use hydrogenated vegetable oils to prevent separation. Natural peanut butters like Trader Joe's only contain peanuts. If the separation bothers you Barney Butter is a great alternative. It does have a bit of added sugar, but it is likely a good transition if you are used to the commercial brands.
If you go with reduced fat peanut butter, rather than regular, you are likely adding even more sugar since most low fat/no fat versions take out the fat and replace it with sugar (or worse some artificial sweetener). Similarly if you go for the no sugar/low sugar jellies. Best to go with natural fruit preserves sweetened with natural juice and regular natural nut butter. Additionally, most commercial jellies contain high fructose corn syrup.
It goes without saying that there is not much nutritional value in white bread. Not only are they highly processed, made with bleached flour, they often contain high fructose corn syrup. I really love Ezekiel Sprouted Flax bread. Sprouting releases vital nutrients and these breads contain more vitamins, minerals and protein than breads made with regular flours. Other healthy bread options are sourdough and rye (or sourdough rye if you can find it!).
Don't give up your childhood favorites, just mix it up with some healthier versions of your favorite ingredients. You might end up loving the new versions even more!!!
More info on sprouted breads: