All Hail Peanut Butter & Jelly

To quote Kenya, the pissed off maid of honor on Sunday’s rerun of “Bridezillas”, “I am a grown ass woman” and I will eat Peanut Butter & Jelly for lunch if I want to!

I’ve long spoken about my love of peanut butter.  Everyone has some type of food they aren’t willing to give up.  For me, it’s peanut butter.  I just love its nutty salty goodness.  It’s fantastic with coconut milk, peppers and tofu.  It is incredible with a few little pieces of chocolate.  It is certainly off the hook in cookies and I will stab you with a fork if you interfere with any combination of peanut butter and cheesecake, cupcake or pie (Do they have a peanut butter cheesecake cupcake pie?  If not, let’s get on that, shall we?).  But perhaps there is no better way to showcase it’s deliciousness than in a PB&J sandwich.

This is an actual peanut butter pie with an extra Reese’s peanut butter cup on top. So bad for me but oh so good.

As a suited up thirty something professional I proudly strut into the employee cafeteria carrying my pink lunch bag filled with adult foodie type things like Greek salad with Orzo, grilled marinated eggplant focaccia, sundried tomatoes and peas on endive and of course the mother of all sandwiches:  Peanut Butter & Jelly.

The presence of this little bit of heaven is often met with startled stares and questions from fellow co-workers.  Some become nostalgic while others can’t fathom why with all my strange foodie tendencies I would choose a PB&J.

And not just any PB&J.  Nope.  It’s raw peanut butter with a touch of sea salt accompanied by some sort berry flavored jelly on hearty sprouted multi-grain bread.

This is the actual PB&J I consumed for lunch today. It was super delicious.

They think I am doing this completely wrong.  At the very least if I am going to “break down” and toss a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in my lunch it had better be Skippy and Smucker’s Strawberry Jam on Wonder Bread.

If you love that, please feel free to enjoy.  Me?  Ick.

Okay, I have to be honest here.  I never experienced white bread until I was in college.  After years of eating all manner of oat bread, wheat bread and multi-grain bread Wonder Bread failed to live up to the hype.  I had THOSE parents.  You know, the borderline hippie Birkenstock wearing Bay Area parents who kept backyard chickens and believed in solar energy and sustainable farming.

Yeah, I like hearty sprouted multi-grain bread.  Bonus points if there are large crunchies in it.  Score if I made it myself, because every self sufficient professional woman should know how to make her own vegan oat bread just in case the food supply chain collapses.  Because having access to vegan oat bread is of course going to be the most important concern when that happens.  Yup.  Those were my parents.

I also happen to love raw peanut butter.  It’s runny, oiliness seeps into the crevices of chunky bread for a new level of nutty amazingness.  I once had an entire argument with a good friend of mine at a fitness boot camp over how yummy raw peanut butter actually is.  Seriously:  it is GOOD.

And I am one more round of strawberries in the garden from making my own strawberry jam.  In the absence of jam made by friends and family, I have a supplier at the farmer’s market who hooks me up with a variety of minimally processed jarred berry wonderfulness.

I have become THAT person.  I have come to terms with it.  I take the teasing from my closest friends well (because they would like to know where the double cheeseburger devouring friend went off to and let’s face it:  Bacon vs. Tofu is funny).  I chuckle along with the co-workers who mock my oh so sophisticated palate (whose team won the biggest loser challenge?  Oh that’s right:  the PB&J eating team).

Now before I embarked on this whole healthy living journey 18 months ago, I would eat a PB&J every now and then, usually at a flyball tournament because it was the only thing I could inhale without needing a plate while running to the ring with a herd of dog.  Other than that, however, if I wanted a quick  and obviously uber healthy lunch it was McDonald’s or Jack in the Box.

When I started tracking food and focusing on healthy eating, fast food was the first to go.  I would carefully portion out lunches and snacks.  Most troubling was that the high fat, high calorie love of my food life peanut butter clearly had to go too.  I never missed fast food, however my moratorium on peanut butter lasted all of two weeks, if that.

Instead, I needed to find more creative yet practical ways of enjoying one my all time favorite foods.  While packing yet another by this time boring (I hadn’t yet developed any sense of variety in my eating habits) spinach salad with feta cheese, strawberries and almond slivers for lunch it hit me:  I would LOVE a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Not only would I love it but, but it could actually round out my lunch perfectly-particularly on running days.

And thus, PB&J sandwiches on sprouted multi-grain whole wheat bread started turning up in my lunch.  I love them.  It is 298 calories, 13 grams of protein and 43mg of sodium filling and delicious goodness.  It is delicious with a glass of skim milk, side salad, fruit and/or Greek yogurt.  Today, it was accompanied by that Greek salad with Orzo and a little gouda.  I don’t eat them every day, of course but at least once a week one makes its way into the lunch bag.  Sometimes, its toasted cousin turns up on my plate for breakfast as well.  You can guarantee that if I am heading out for a long run or adventure hike there will be one or two stuffed in my pack.  I love them and I like to think they love me.

So don’t judge my grown ass woman self for enjoying a bit of peanut butter and jelly awesomeness.  Embrace your own inner first grader.  Give into the dark side.  All hail the Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich, the King of All Sandwiches.