Not your father’s PB&J – 3 healthy riffs on ‘Peanut Butter and Jelly’

Share this post:

My dad had an orange vinyl recliner where we used to sit and eat chocolate ice cream together.

Usually, this meant I slurped down my ice cream out of my little blue plastic bowl, then I’d climb up beside him in the recliner and “help” him eat his.

It’s one of my absolute favorite memories of Dad (and the photo above is probably my favorite picture of us).

A love of chocolate ice cream is one of the many things I inherited from him. Besides our mutual affection for writing, a lot of those loves – both good and bad – include food.

Peanut butter and blackberry jelly is high on that list.

But Dad had health problems, partly brought on by diet choices, and I’m trying to avoid that legacy. I’ve spent the past few years educating myself on the negative effects of sugar, refined carbohydrates and modern grains (even “healthy” whole grains), and what I’ve learned is enough to make me seek out healthier alternatives.

When Debbie Arnold, a real food blogger and the curator of Foodie Friday for the Arkansas Women Bloggers, announced this month’s  theme, I immediately started devising ways I could put my own spin on “Peanut Butter & Jelly Time.” My aim was to:

  1. Make “peanut butter and jelly” recipes that are healthful and delicious.
  2. Think outside the breadbox. I interpreted “peanut butter” as any kind of nut or seed butter and “jelly” as any fruit that you might pair with those butters, whether that means a sauce with a bit of natural sweetener or just plain ol’, naturally sweet fruit.
  3. Make grain-free (possibly gluten-free), low-carb riffs on the theme.
  4. Get you to try something new. (I tried a new thing; see below.)

I think I succeeded on the first three, but I’ll let you be the judge. No. 4 is entirely up to you.

Here’s what I have for you today:

  • Nutty Crunchy Grain-Free Granola.
  • Almond Butter Fruity Toast with Sprouted Grain Bread.
  • Maple Almond Butter Cookies (modified from my 2009 recipe).
  • Bonus recipe: Suzy’s Coffee Protein Smoothie (doesn’t contain a fruit that is typically found in jelly, so it’s a stretch to include it in a PBJ post!).
A few notes:
  • These recipes are limited only by your imagination and the fruits and nuts available to you. With fresh fruit, pick what’s in season to make it more affordable, available and delicious. (And don’t forget to #BuyLocal.)
  • Use whatever nuts, seeds, dried fruits and sweeteners/binders you want. Can’t decide between pecans and walnuts? Use both – I did! Honey, molasses or maple syrup? Yes, please! For the fruit, I went with cranberries because it was the only dried fruit I had on hand that didn’t require chopping. (Prunes, anyone?)
  • This was my first foray into eating sprouted-grain bread, although I had been wanting to try it. Sprouted grains can offer more health benefits and be less allergenic for those sensitive to gluten. I’ve been limiting grains for a few years, so this was a good way to eat a sandwich without veering too far off the path.
  • You’ll notice that almond is my go-to butter in all the recipes. I’m not trying to say peanut butter is unhealthy, but I’m in the middle of a doctor-prescribed 60-day elimination diet that forbids legumes, so peanuts are out for a few more weeks. I don’t think I’m allergic, but many people are. I keep almonds, walnuts and pecans in my freezer. (Plus, we have pecan trees in our yard.)

If you’re trying to tame the sugar monster or conquer a carb addiction (it’s a real thing), I hope you’ll start thinking outside the breadbox, as I’ve done for the most part with these recipes.

(Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for the bonus recipe. You’ll need to click through to my other blog, Suzy & Spice.)

So let’s get started.

Print Recipe
Nutty Crunchy Grain-Free Granola
This granola recipe is versatile, because you can use whatever nuts, seeds, dried fruits and sweeteners/binders you want. The first time I made it, I couldn’t decide whether to use honey or molasses, so I used both! Couldn’t decide between pecans and walnuts, so … both! For the fruit, I went with cranberries because it was the only dried fruit I had on hand that didn’t require chopping. (Prunes, anyone?)
nutty grain-free granola
Course Snacks
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20-22 minutes
Servings
servings
Course Snacks
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20-22 minutes
Servings
servings
nutty grain-free granola
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix nuts, seeds and coconut in a large bowl.
  3. Mix in dried fruit.
  4. Add coconut oil, sweetener (syrup, honey or molasses) and salt, and mix thoroughly with your hands.
  5. Spread mixture evenly in jelly roll pan. Granola should be no more than an inch thick.
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes, stirring every 8-10 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool before breaking into pieces.
  8. Store in air-tight container.
Share this Recipe

Print Recipe
Almond Butter Fruity Toast with Sprouted Grain Bread
Sprouted grains can offer more health benefits and be less allergenic for those sensitive to gluten than with conventionally processed baked goods. This is a good way to eat a sandwich occasionally without veering too far off the grain-free path.
almond butter fruity toast
Course Sandwiches
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
serving
Course Sandwiches
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
serving
almond butter fruity toast
Instructions
  1. Toast the bread.
  2. Spread the nut or seed butter on top.
  3. Top with fresh berries or other fruit.
Share this Recipe

Maple Almond Butter Cookies

Print Recipe
Maple Almond Butter Cookies
I first made these yummy cookies in 2009. You’ll find the original recipe on my other blog, Suzy & Spice. Back then, I didn’t understand the importance of healthy oils or good photography. 🙂
Course desserts
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Course desserts
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In large bowl, combine almond butter, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla or almond extract until well blended.
  3. In separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Add to wet ingredients, along with almonds and fruit, and stir until just combined. Let sit 5 minutes.
  4. Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls, flatten to about 1/3 inch and place onto cookie sheet.
  5. Bake 8-10 minutes.
  6. Let cool for a couple of minutes, then move cookies to wire rack.
  7. When completely cool, store in airtight container.
Share this Recipe

Bonus recipe (on the other blog):

Suzy’s Coffee Protein Smoothie

This one doesn’t have the “J,” but it contains delicious “PB” – along with coffee, banana and protein powder. Suzy’s Coffee Protein Smoothie is a riff on a rich and yummy (but entirely waist-expanding) drink I used to buy at a local smoothie hut. It’s another recipe that you can modify to your tastes (for instance, I make mine with hazelnut-flavored coffee).

Now it’s your turn. Tell me what you’re going to make, go make it and then come back and tell us how you did.

Fill out the form for updates & your free PDF:

8tipsforsayingnograciously
Powered by ConvertKit
Share this post:

6 thoughts on “Not your father’s PB&J – 3 healthy riffs on ‘Peanut Butter and Jelly’

  • August 25, 2017 at 5:41 am
    Permalink

    Great job! I’m really looking forward to trying that granola recipe especially. xoxoxo

  • August 25, 2017 at 7:41 am
    Permalink

    The granola has been a hit this week with everyone who tried it. (I’ve had to limit myself to two bites a day!)

    Thanks, Debbie. 🙂

  • August 26, 2017 at 1:32 am
    Permalink

    Thanks for sharing these, Suzy!
    We love the nut butters and love making them. And having grandchildren visiting this month, I should give them a thrill by letting them see how it’s done! We have always been fans of peanut butter with banana sandwiches, so I’m thinking of trying the other fruits shown, and with almond butter. It just sounds refreshing.
    Now for a good sprouted grain bread recipe! 🙂

    • August 26, 2017 at 9:50 am
      Permalink

      Thanks for stopping by, Katharine. I’ve grown to love almond butter almost as much as my (and Dad’s) beloved peanut butter. I’ve been considering making my own almond butter because it’s hard to find it in local stores with no added sugar. I usually order online.

      I would love to know how you make your nut butters – do you use one of those fancy high-speed blenders?

      And peanut butter and banana sandwiches? I love those, too!

  • September 5, 2017 at 8:58 am
    Permalink

    Great job, Suzy. I think all your pictures look amazing!!! Thanks for all the hard work.

  • September 5, 2017 at 9:57 pm
    Permalink

    Thanks, Tamara! So my pathetic little play for sympathy worked, eh? (Inside joke that only my email subscribers would understand). 🙂

Comments are closed.