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?