PB&J just has such a great nostalgia associated with it. Pretty much everyone had it when they were a kid, and most people still like it to eat occassionally once they “grow up.” The problem is, the “classic” PBJ sandwich really isn’t that good for you! It’s a lot of sugar and fat, and not much nutrition (except from the peanuts). That’s because, most traditional PBJ sandwiches are made with white bread (sugar), strawberry “jam” (which ends up being highly processed and mostly sugar), and peanut butter (which is the only nutritious ingredient of the three).
But – you can enjoy a very healthy and tasty PBJ sandwich, without having to give up the yummy peanut butter by making a few healthy substitutions! So – here we go – the best healthy peanut butter sandwich ever 🙂
Use whole wheat bread instead of white bread! And if you can find high fiber, low calorie whole wheat that’s even better. I LOVE Orowheat Double Fiber bread. Two slices will only run you 140 calories and you’ll get 12g fiber!
Use Blueberry Jam (with minimal sugar – check the ingredients!) or Fresh Strawberry Preserves (that also have chunks of fruit in them). Basically – the best way to tell whether the jam actually packs a fruit/antioxidant punch is to look at the ingredients and see if the actual fruit is one of the first ingredients in the spread! You want ingredients you can pronnounce – that is key. My favorite is the Blueberry Jam from Trader Joes:
Use organic, fresh peanut butter. By this I mean – get the kind of peanut butter you have to stir, where the ingredients are “Peanuts, Salt.” Just because you have to stir it doesn’t mean it won’t taste good! Trader Joes has a great organic peanut butter that is super creamy and tastes great!
By the way – some people use “Better N Peanut Butter” – which has only 100 calories for 2 Tbsp. Personally, I don’t like it – it doesn’t taste like peanut butter at all! It tastes kind of weirdly sweet and has a different texture. I’d recommend sticking to the real stuff (natural, organic peanut butter) and just using a bit less of it!
Add toppings. Now this is optional. If you don’t like bananas or raisins or apples inside your PBJ, don’t worry about it. Peanut butter + fresh fruit preserves/jam will still pack a nutritious punch. But if you do like toppings, leave out the jam and instead use: bananas and walnuts, bananas and raisins, raisins and apples, or any combination of nuts/fruits that you like! It’ll turn out great.
Now for the proportions
You can make a healthy PBJ sandwich for only ~350 calories if you
1) Use 2 slices Double Fiber bread (140 cal)
2) Use 1 Tbsp peanut butter (100 cal). The key to only using 1 Tbsp peanut butter but having it still taste great is to toast the bread lightly so the peanut butter spreads easier across the bread (and you can get a thinner layer of peanut butter without sacrificing any flavor!)
3) Use 1-2 Tbsp jam (50-100 cal)
Spread peanut butter on both slices, jam on both slices and put them together. You can also eat it open faced – like toast with jam which is fun too 🙂 If you use toppings, then you can substitute the calories you’d use for the jam for the toppings and still keep it to 350-400 calories. With a high fiber bread, you could end up with 10-12 g fiber per sandwich too! Now that’s the best PBJ sandwich ever. Let me know if these tips work for you!