For some reason, childhood foods always come in pairs:
- Mac and cheese
- Fish sticks and chips
- Pizza and fries
- Salsa and nachos
- Ice cream and sprinkles
- Ketchup and fries
- Carrots and celery
I was kidding about the last two. Those snacks were always eaten last, if at all.
In any case, there are more examples of these childhood duos, depending on where and how you grew up, but there is one we can all agree on: Peanut butter and jelly.
I used to love PB&J sandwiches as a kid, but my home-packed lunches evolved into tuna fish sandwiches, salami sandwiches, lettuce sandwiches, and then tomato sandwiches. My friends thought it was strange I carried a tableware knife in my lunch box in high school, but I didn’t want the rye bread to become soggy from the pulp, so I always sliced the tomatoes by lunchtime and ate the sandwich immediately. Those were delicious. Go try it for yourself if you don’t believe me.
Recently, I was in the mood for something reminiscent of childhood, and I tried the peanut butter and jelly combination for the first time in years. The taste was astounding. I couldn’t believe I had been depriving myself of this classic for all this time. The old favorite was back, and I began experimenting different ways to remake these two flavors.
The downsides of peanut butter and jelly are the unhealthy ingredients packed into naturally nutritious foods. For example, peanuts on their own are rich in protein, antioxidants, magnesium, iron, and vitamin E, but manufacturers mix in confectionary sugar, hydrogenated oils, preservatives that are difficult to pronounce, and high fructose corn syrup. The nutrients from the peanuts are lost in this cluster of toxic ingredients.
It’s a similar story with jam or jelly. The consumer may think he is buying preserved and pureed fruits and berries, while his purchase is truly a jar of sugar and corn syrup with some fruity mashes blended in. The list of chemicals inside these products are even longer than their shelf life.
The solution does not have to be making your own peanut butter and jelly. If you do, that’s great, but most people do not have time for that. To avoid these unhealthy additives, here is what you must do: Read the ingredients.
There are many brands out there who keep their products clean and simple. The peanut butter label should read “Peanuts” or “Roasted peanuts.” The jam’s list should likewise be short, and the primary ingredients should be fruit or berries, without added sugar and glucose-fructose (which is another name for corn syrup.)
These products may be a bit more expensive than the conventional brands, and that is because they are using real ingredients and not mixing in cheap additives to spend less money on buying real peanuts and fruit. When it comes to healthy food versus cheap, unhealthy products, it’s always better to spend the extra dollar on better quality foods if it’s within budget. Consider it an investment for your health. You will be a lot happier spending more money on healing and energizing foods than spending less on foods that will make you sick and need to pay for medical treatment later on.
Most childhood favorites are notably unhealthy, but this combo does not need to be. Here is PB&J reinvented into a delicious cookie that is perfect for any child’s lunchbox. Or yours!
PB&J Thumbprint Cookies
- 1/2 cup brown rice flour
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 cup natural peanut butter*
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Jam for filling
*I used natural peanut butter. Regular has a different consistently, and the mixture may be dry is you substitute.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix the flours, baking soda, and baking powder.
- Combine the peanut butter, eggs, honey, and vanilla extract, and slowly add the flour mixture until well-combined.
- Roll dough into balls and place on a lined cookie sheet.
- Using a melon scooper or small spoon, press a round indentation into each cookie. Fill with about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of jam.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes until the bottoms of the cookies are brown.
- Allow the cookies to cool for about 10 minutes to firm up.