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How to Bring New Life to the PB&J

There's more than one way to make the essential sandwich!

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Forget apple pie—the peanut butter and jelly sandwich should have the title of America’s favorite food. What’s not to like? It’s nutritious, inexpensive, easy to make, and beloved by both kids and adults. That’s pretty much the parenting holy grail. But there’s a downside to a dish that’s so ubiquitous: It can get a little, well, boring. So we’ve come up with some creative ways to give the world’s greatest sandwich new life.

Shake up your crunch. Love crunchy peanut butter? Nobody says that texture needs to come from peanuts! Try mixing granola, chocolate or white chocolate chips, sunflower seeds, potato chips, or crushed up cookies into smooth peanut butter or sprinkling them on the sandwich itself.

Paninify it. Spread a bit of butter on the outside of your finished PB&J and toast it up in a frying pan, panini press, toaster oven, or w­affle iron. The peanut butter gets extra luscious and the warm jam recalls pie fresh out of the oven (you might even want to eat this one with a fork!).

Make a fresh refrigerator jam. If you’re making a small batch of jam for a few sandwiches—and plan to keep any extras in the fridge for less than two weeks—there’s no need to use pectin or get fancy with hot water canning. Old-fashioned refrigerator strawberry jam could be your kid’s new sandwich favorite, and it would also be great on top of Greek yogurt or oatmeal, shaken into a sweet salad dressing, dolloped on pancakes, or stirred into barbecue sauce. Of course, you can also skip the jam altogether and get really fresh with slices of fruit like bananas, strawberries, or apples. Slicing soft fruits with a starter knife is a great way for kids to practice knife skills safely.

Use chocolate bread. Peanut butter and chocolate is a no brainer, but instead of reaching for the chocolate sauce for a drizzle, try flipping the idea inside out and putting the chocolate in the bread. This tasty chocolate loaf from David Lebovitz is a great choice—kids can help by measuring ingredients, cracking eggs, chopping nuts, and kneading the dough.

Go nuts with your nut butter by making your own. With a little bit of patience, you can make your own extra creamy, roasted, nut butter for a truly homemade PB&J. Experiment with different nut combinations—like cashews and sunflower seeds or almonds and pecans—then stir spices or flavors (like cinnamon, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar, paprika, or cocoa powder) into small amounts of the finished nut butter to find a new favorite. To get started, try our homemade Nutella recipe!

Did you know? Little Sous offers a monthly themed kids cooking kit that will help your family connect in the kitchen. Check out our subscription options!