Q: Thanks for that sandwich post last week. My favorite sandwich – and I’ve been eating it since I was a preschooler – is peanut butter and jelly. But I read recently that the average PB&J is around 400 calories. Is that because of the fat in the peanut butter? And would low-fat peanut butter be a healthier alternative? – Cindy, Lubbock
A: You’re right about the high calorie content of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – and most people don’t just eat the sandwich. The meal calories climb considerably higher when you add a beverage and chips to the lunch bag. And of course, a lot depends on what kind of bread is used and how thick you like to spread the peanut butter and the jelly. However, one thing you DON’T want to do is switch to reduced fat peanut butter. The fat in the peanut butter is actually the healthy, unsaturated variety. Reduced-fat spreads replace the healthy fat with maltodextrin, which is an empty carbohydrate that’s high in sugar and has no redeeming nutritional value. Try instead an all-natural peanut butter with no added oils or sugars and perhaps spread a little less on your bread. Also, use whole grain bread and a jelly or jam that is all-natural with no added sugars.
You might also try this outlandish – but delicious – PB&J Sandwich Makeover (from Alison Ladman, Associated Press):
1 Tbs instant oatmeal
3 Tbs nonfat milk
Pinch of salt
1 Tbs natural, unsalted peanut butter
¼ cup chopped fresh berries, chopped
2 tsp all-fruit spread
2 slices multigrain or whole-wheat bread
In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine the oatmeal, milk and salt. Microwave on high for 1 minute or until boiling. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then stir in the peanut butter. In another small bowl, stir together the berries and fruit spread. Spread the peanut butter-oatmeal mixture on one slice of bread and the fruit mixture over it. Top with the second slice of bread.
270 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 42 g carbohydrates, 11 g protein, 10 g fiber, 420 mg sodium