September 12, 2012
Here’s the scenario: You’re in a jam and need a quick lunch or snack. Where to first? Raise your hand if you said peanut butter and jelly. Yup, me, too.
I’ve been in a lot of family homes and have found that peanut butter is the most common pantry staple. I even looked it up; turns out that 75% of households have a jar of peanut butter lying around. And it’s no wonder since PB&J is simple, fast and a favorite with most kids. It’s also high in protein, vitamins B3 and E, magnesium, folate and fiber. But what happens when you’re with a child who can’t have peanut butter or just doesn’t like it? Or—imagine this—what happens when everyone is just plain sick of PB&J. (It’ happens!)
That’s when you have to get creative. Or let me get creative for you. Here are a few of my favorite products that make a delicious, quick and nutritious sandwich or snack. Like PB&J, but just different enough to keep things interesting.
Justin’s Nut Butters
Sometimes a little change is all you need to spice things up. Justin’s nut butters are not all the different from plain peanut butter, but they are a delicious way to make your nut butter and jelly sandwich a little more exciting. Justin’s offers a wide range of hazelnut, almond and peanut butters, plain or flavored with maple, honey or vanilla. I love the Maple Almond Butter, but know a cute hungry boy who loves the vanilla almond butter best.
Use Justin’s as you would peanut butter (on bread with jam or cream cheese) or spread on crackers or celery sticks and dot with raisins for an on-the-go snack. And while we’re talking nut butter, check out this great piece the Hungry Mama did on choosing a better nut butter to see which is best for your family.
(Available through the Justin’s Nut Better site.)
I never would have thought to put cream cheese on a sandwich before I moved to NYC, but becoming a bona fide New Yorker has opened my eyes to the glory of cream cheese sandwiches. Cream cheese is delicious paired with sliced tomato and/or cucumber, jam, almond butter, banana, or even just a sprinkle of honey. (The hungry mama and I are gaga over these new Nektar honey crystals which keep honey neat and clean—so helpful when feeding kids, especially on the go!)
(Available in the dairy section of you local grocery store; consider buying your dairy, including cream cheese, organic.)
High Desert Organics Pear Vanilla Bean Butter
I LOVE High Dessert products, not only because they play with interesting flavor combinations, but also because they have very little added sugar. They use all organic ingredients and let fruit’s natural flavor speak for itself. Check out all the flavors. I haven’t had a bad one yet!
Use these delicious spreads as you would jam or mix into plain yogurt for a quick snack that has less sugar than the pre-flavored kind.
I admit it: I’m addicted to chocolate hazelnut spread. I’m proud to report, though, that I’ve never let my addiction get in the way of smart eating decisions. At least not for the kids I take care of. As much as I love the stuff, I haven’t been able to justify serving it as anything other than a very once and a while snack. That is, until I discovered Rawtella. (Cue angelic music!) It’s all the yumminess of chocolate hazelnut spread, but with some actual nutritional worth… or at least no yucky additives. Rawtella is sweetened with raw coconut sugar, which is unrefined and lower on the glycemic index. It is also high in natural minerals, antioxidant rich and gluten-free. No need to thank me—just enjoy!
Spread Rawtella on a piece of toast or graham cracker (with bananas, for some extra nutrition). You can also scoop Rawtella into a little container and let kiddo dip apple slices into it, or mix it into a smoothie with banana, plain yogurt and ice.
There are a lot of nut-free peanut butter alternatives these days, but I think that SunButter, one of the original alternatives, is the best. I happen to love sunflower seeds. If you do, too, you’ll love this stuff, even if you don’t have a nut allergy. SunButter is super tasty and high in iron, fiber and vitamin E.
Use SunButter exactly as you would peanut butter. Spread on crackers, butter cookies, or toast. Pair with banana, honey, cream cheese, celery or apple slices.
(Available through the SunButter site.)
The hungry mama recently made her own list of spreads to make a better peanut butter sandwich. Be sure to check that out and tell us about your favorite, too!
– The Hungry Sitter
photo credit: iStock/Elke Dennis