As a kid, I asked my mom to pack the same lunch for me every single day: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Even now, few foods make me happier. (Our dear, departed friend Wrigley loved PB&J, too.) And it’s not a bad-for-you lunch, provided you opt for whole-grain bread and not-so-sugary PB.
Allow me to make a public-service announcement on behalf of natural peanut butter. As a kid, I was fanatically devoted to one—and only one—national peanut butter brand. As an adult, I’ve come to love the pure, unadulterated, utterly peanutty taste of natural peanut butter. The fresh-ground version I buy at our local deli has just dry-roasted peanuts; no salt, no sugar, no high-fructose corn syrup or added oils or anything. Nuts.
I’ve also lately discovered the merits of other nut butters, particularly almond butter, which makes a dynamite afternoon snack spread lightly on apple slices, and hazelnut butter—or, more accurately, hazelnut-chocolate spread. Not Nutella, mind you, which has a lot of added sugar, but Justin’s. This stuff is amazing in a bowl of cooked oatmeal with a half a sliced banana. Almond butter is also a great swap for peanut butter in your favorite cookie. Here’s a great recipe for almond-butter cookies.
For more info and great ideas for cooking with nut butters, check out this article I recently wrote for SparkPeople.com: Go Nuts for Nut Butters!