October 24, 2014

The alternative peanut butter and jelly sandwich

Pretty much every year for forever, the kids have had someone in their school class with a peanut butter allergy. And with me being a kind-of-embarrassed-to-admit-that-i-only-cook-when-necessary mom, pb&js are a staple in this house. When I was pregnant with the twins and would get nauseated just looking at food coupons (not a joke), I set up a pb&j survival station in our kitchen so that the older two kids could make their own and live through nine months of me not being able to walk into the kitchen.

So what do you do when for an entire school year, you cannot pack your standard go-to sandwich? You think of an alternative.

Here are some things we tried that the kids didn't go for:
  • Just a jelly sandwich. Not a winner with my bunch.
  • A cream cheese sandwich. Turns out they only enjoy cream cheese when it is an ingredient in cake frosting.
  • A couple of plain pieces of cinnamon raisin bread stacked together to fake being a sandwich. Yup, they noticed that it wasn't. So no. 

Something that worked that I didn't feel great about feeding them: 
  • Nutella sandwiches. These were a hit, but without even looking at the ingredients, I can tell you that anything that tastes that addictive cannot be good for you. Look away from the Nutella. 

I know what you're thinking (or at least what I'm thinking), but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches aren't that healthy for your kid either. But they at least cover some of the bases, like protein and sugar-coated fruit. We all have to draw the line somewhere. I draw the line at is this easy enough that a six year old can do it and does it have regular ole processed sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. See? Standards are important.

So I came up with the chia seed and jelly sandwich. Yes, it warrants the giant font. 

We all know chia seeds are magic because we read about it in Born to Run, which btw if you have not read, get on it! Just throw the words Aztec superfood around a few times, and bam, people are crazy go nuts for chia seeds.

But here are the facts.

Versus peanut butter.

The chia sees don't have as much protein or potassium as peanut butter, but they have more fiber, magnesium, calcium and iron. So it's a good swap for us. 

We buy chia seeds in bulk and store them in jars. So when it's time to make the sandwich, I just scoop out a tablespoon and carefully pour it onto a slice of bread, and then I scoop out jelly on top of it and slowly mix the seeds into the jelly. I say carefully because chia seeds can easily roll off and make a giant mess. It would be smart to premix the jelly and chia seeds before making the sandwich, but I haven't made it that far yet. 

So what do the kids think? They love it. Really, they have not complained once that they are tired of Aztec superfoods, and we packed this sandwich for lunch every day this week.

Artwork created under the influence of chia seed and jelly sandwiches.

Do you or your kids pack a lunch? 

What is your go-to lunchbox food? 


  1. First off, I LOVE this picture! ha! Kid art is my fav! This is a great idea. My kids aren't big fans of jelly though. They like peanut butter and pickle. But the chia seeds being put in things...such a great idea!! So good for you but not really all that noticeable if you put them in things. In fact, you've made me think of putting them in a few other things. So, does the entire school have to go peanut free? At the schools I taught at, we just had peanut free tables.

    1. No, the school isn't peanut free at all. Actually the classrooms aren't either. They just send home a sheet at the beginning of the year that says something to the effect of, for your information someone in your child's classroom has a life-threatening peanut allergy. So even though it isn't required, we try to stay away from at least peanut butter to make it easier on the kid and teacher. I've become friends with some of the moms of these kids, and I know they appreciate people looking out for their kids. I should be better about checking ingredient lists thoroughly on other things, but they usually pack pretty simple lunches, like carrot sticks, apple sauce, cheese sticks, and a sandwich. I wonder if you could do honey and chia seeds?

  2. Are you feeding them jalapeno jelly? Because it looks awfully green. :)

    1. Haha, no! The kids would definitely not go for that. It's just a weird shade because of the Hipstamatic app I used to take it. It is from KY though -- we stock up on jam when we go over to the mennonite community near Franklin.

  3. P.S. You need to come to Utah next year and run Provo mountain with me. Easy part - 12 miles; 6 up and 6 down. Hard part 4000 ft change in elevation each way. Caps out at just over 9700 ft. It's Big Springs to Rock Canyon. Beautiful trails. You'll feel so primal! Okay, that's a stretch (not really). I'm having a hard time convincing people to run with me. But I'm sure you'd love it! You'll only need a bit of altitude training to make the climb (3.5 miles are pretty vertical).

    1. So tempting! My brother and sis-in-law did just have a baby, soooo a good reason to visit too!:)

  4. Just found your blog and it's awesome-sauce! One thing I love is toast with coconut oil, jelly, and chia seeds on top. So delicious!


Yo Momma loves comments.