Make a Healthier Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Whole grain bread for a healthier peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
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The typical PB&J includes a couple of slices of white bread, a big blob of peanut butter and a couple of spoonfuls of jelly. It’s maybe not the healthiest thing to eat, but it’s not all bad. I mean, peanut butter is a good source of monounsaturated fats and minerals. The big concerns are all the sugar from the jelly and the lack of nutrition from plain old white bread. But, I think you can up your PB&J game with a few changes and your daughter will still love it.

Start With Bread That's a Whole Lot Better

Every sandwich starts with some kind of bread. Typical white bread is made with refined flour, which means the wheat is stripped of its bran and germ. Bread made with refined flour lasts longer and has a soft light texture, but suffers from a major loss of nutritional value. Some of the nutrients are added back in by ‘enriching’ the flour, but it isn’t as good for you as bread made from whole grain flours.

Let’s face it — white bread is just a thing that holds up the rest of the sandwich, it doesn’t really have a lot of flavor of its own. So, swap out your old white bread for 100-percent whole grain bread. You’ll get better nutritional value and more texture and flavor with the whole grain bread. 

Another beautiful thing about whole grains is the variety of bread available, so you can mix and match your grains — wheat bread, 7-grain bread, or wheat mixed with oats.

My favorite is whole grain spelt bread that I make at home in a bread machine.

I know that some pickier eaters won’t like whole grain bread, but there are some white bread that is still whole grain bread. Whole grain white bread is made from a type of wheat that is lighter in color and has a milder flavor, and it’s just as healthy as ‘brown’ whole wheat flour.

Go Beyond Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a good wholesome product as long as you choose brands that don’t have added sugar. I mean, peanut butter is already delicious, so it doesn’t need sugar. Either smooth or chunky peanut butter is acceptable.

Another option is to use something like almond butter. There’s not much difference between the two nutritionally speaking, but almond butter has a pleasant flavor that goes well with whole grains. You can also find cashew or soy butter in most grocery stores.

Peanut and nut butter are nutritious, but also high in calories, so if you’re watching your weight, it’s important to keep an eye on your serving size.

Jack Up Your Jelly

A typical store brand of jelly is made from fruit juice, sugar, and pectin. Nutritionally speaking, you’re mostly just getting calories from the added sugars, and there’s no fiber or anything else.

What’s a better idea? Jam instead of jelly. Preferably fruit spread made with just the fruit and little or no extra sugar. It helps cut the calories a bit, adds a bit more nutrition and fiber, and tastes more like fruit rather than goopy sugar. If you can't find a store brand you like, don' be afraid to try making low sugar jam at home.

You know, you could skip the jelly altogether and add fruit to your sandwich. I get that it wouldn’t technically be a PB&J anymore, but a sliced banana is delicious with peanut butter, or raisins or even thin apple slices are good toppings.

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