Nut as you please, there’s jam for it too

Get Cultured | Anna Gustafson | April 4, 2016

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The spark for what you once loved has begun to fade and you feel like you need to rekindle that flame. It happens, but to spice things up, it’s a natural inclination to try new techniques for things we already enjoy. If you’re itching to try something new, it might be time to mix it up in, you guessed it, the kitchen.

April 2 was National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, and if you’re like many college kids, PB & J’s are a staple in your diet. But you might be looking for a different flavor to your holy trinity of sandwich ingredients.

“I’m allergic to peanuts!”

If this is you, I firstly want to express my condolences for you because a life without peanut butter is a life I couldn’t live. But have no fear, there’s always almondcashew and sunflower as substitutes. It could taste just as good as it would with classic peanut butter, and if you’re feeling adventurous or have a major sweet tooth, try Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter. It has a gingerbread-like taste and is a bit thicker than peanut butter, but it comes in other flavors like Cookie & Cocoa Swirl.

Side note: there is no shame in eating this stuff by the spoonful. Yes, it’s that good.

Speculoos Cookie Butter

For something totally unique and new, try Wild Friends. All of their products are certified organic and non-GMO, and they have tons of drool-worthy flavors beyond classic nut butters.

On the other side of the sandwich, the jelly aisle is overwhelming to even the most avid grocery shoppers. From classic flavors like strawberry and blueberry to the less known apricot-pineapple and boysenberry, it can be hard to decide what you want. But parents always say college is about expanding your horizons and trying new things, and there’s no reason this life tip can’t apply to grocery essentials.

Wild Friends

“But jelly has so much sugar!”

Definitely a good point, but there’s no denying that delicious jelly is sometimes worth the extra sugar. If you want the healthiest or most natural brand, choose one without high fructose corn syrup. Even better, use jam or preserves! It’s rare to find a jelly/jam without added sweetener, but it’s best to look for the one with the least amount of sugar per serving and preferably sweetened with honey or pure sugar.

For a sandwich with a little more texture and fiber but less sugar, instead, pair the peanut butter with fresh fruit like ripe raspberries and blueberries. I have yet to hear of banana jam, but everyone knows peanut butter and bananas go together, so try slicing up a banana on your next peanut butter sandwich. Bonus points if you drizzle honey on top!

pb and banana

Enjoying PB & J’s can even be experienced beyond the limits of two slices of plain bread. Prefer less dough? Try bagel thins or sandwich thins to cut your carb load. If bread is nowhere to be found, spread a little peanut butter on some crackers (graham crackers and Ritz crackers are personal faves) and dip them in jelly. Pretzels are another an option if you need a sweet and salty fix!

“I’m gluten-free!”

Oh, you’re one of thooose people…Don’t dismay, different strokes float different boats. Brown rice cakes are a great bread substitute whether you’re gluten-free or not, and doesn’t go stale for a long time, unlike sliced bread. Another option is to use crackers or pretzels but gluten-free ones like rice or nut crackers instead. These usually have more nutrients such as fiber and less fat than wheat crackers anyway.


But if you crave PB & J’s all day long and feel like it’s against the norm to eat a sandwich for breakfast, there’s some nontraditional ways you can still enjoy that unbeatable peanut butter and jelly combo in the morning:

  1. PB & J oatmeal: Add peanut butter to unflavored oatmeal and stir in some jam or fresh fruit to start your day with awesome complex carbs, fat, and protein.
  2. Fruit-flavored Greek yogurt and peanut butter granola: if you haven’t heard the craze about Greek yogurt yet, you should fix that. This protein-packed food is great at any time of day, but it’s especially tasty in the morning with a spoonful or two of Kind Peanut Butter Granola Clusters (I eat this shit religiously and promise you will too). If you’re feeling lazy, Trader Joe’s already took a shortcut and blessed us with peanut butter and jelly Greek yogurt.
  3. Pop-Tart & PB sandwich: probably save this one for the weekend so you don’t hit a sugar crash in the middle of a long day of classes. The best combo is two unfrosted fruit-flavored Pop-Tarts with a thin spread of peanut butter in the middle. But if we’re being honest that spread can go from thin to thick real quick

Some might say National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day is an irrelevant, made-up holiday. But for organizations like The PB & J Campaign, it’s an important day for spreading the message about how every PB & J consumed reduces your carbon footprint, ultimately taking a small but tasty step to helping the environment

So next time you eat a PB & J, you have a little reason to feel good about yourself and what you’re doing for the earth. Just don’t forget to rinse out and recycle your peanut butter and jelly jars when you’re done with them.