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:
- Make “peanut butter and jelly” recipes that are healthful and delicious.
- 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.
- Make grain-free (possibly gluten-free), low-carb riffs on the theme.
- 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.
Bonus recipe (on the other blog):
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.