I am unashamed to admit that for the entirety of my last year of high school, I ate peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. Every. Single. Day. Packed in my green-and-white polka dot lunch box, nestled between dried cranberries and Cheez-Its, that faithful sandwich was made with love every night by my mother. Because of that, peanut butter is a spiritual experience for me — comforting, loving and reliable. Cheap and accessible, it has become a staple in my dorm room, and I’m always finding new ways to get my fix everyday. When plain ol’ PB & J isn’t cutting it for you anymore, here’s some inspiration on how to use up that jar of Jif.
1. Crunchy Peanut Butter with Sliced Apple
Everyone has eaten this snack at least once in his or her life, but this particular combination is tart and satisfying. Rather than just dipping the slices into the peanut butter, spread the crunchiness thickly on the slices and enjoy in simple bites. The result feels much more like a treat than an afternoon snack.
2. Dehydrated Peanut Butter
For those of us wanting less sugar, calories and fat in our diet, dehydrated peanut butter is a great choice. A powder that you mix with water, this version of the spread tastes much more “stripped-down” and “of the earth.” Because there is no trace of extra sweetness or artificial additives, this type of peanut butter is a perfect pairing with anything sweet; its earthiness complements decadence. Whole Foods carries the brand PB2, so stop in, ask for a sample and taste the greatness for yourself.
3. Peanut Butter and Brown Sugar Sandwich
This sandwich, without a doubt, is my favorite on the list. Homey and comforting, it was a childhood favorite of all Reisinger children. Insider tip: use thick, soft whole wheat bread and have a tall glass of milk nearby. Welcome home.
4. Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Sandwich
Both sinful and shameful, this sandwich is meant to be consumed on the floor of your closet while you cry about your life. This fact does not detract from its deliciousness. The ratio of PB to chocolate is a matter of personal preference, but I prefer a thick spread of creamy Jif on each slice of bread and about half a bag of semi-sweet chips in the middle. Make sure you close your closet door; no one needs to witness your shame, even though it tastes so good.
5. With Bacon
It sounds so wrong. It shouldn’t work. But I swear on George Washington Carver’s grave that it is a revelation. The grease cuts through the thickness of the peanut butter, and the heartiness of the meat adds a homey kick to the comfort of the spread. For adventurers, I suggest putting a few slices of bacon on your peanut butter toast in the morning. For those more skeptical, just involve PB and bacon in the same bite (a bite of peanut butter toast followed quickly by a crunch of bacon). If being together is wrong, these two don’t want to be right.
6. Right off the Spoon
Quick and simple, this version of peanut butter is great for pre and post-workout snacks. PB is full of healthy fats and protein, which helps you keep going and also restores what you lost during a particularly difficult sweat session. Crunchy is my favorite on the spoon because it feels more like a meal, but creamy feels a little more decadent.
7. “Grilled” PB and J
One word, people: gooey. To achieve proper ooze, toast thick bread and spread peanut butter and jelly on the slices as quickly as possible. The heat from the bread make the two get melty and wonderful. This is particularly easy to do in a dining hall, but beware: napkins required.
8. Ants on a Log Sandwich
Chop the celery into manageable pieces, use your favorite version of PB, sprinkle raisins into the mix and use kid-approved bread. Simple and filling, this “adult” version (how much of an adult can you be if there’s an insect in the name of your sandwich?) of a childhood favorite tastes even better with dried cranberries, which create a more tart bite.
9. Peanut Butter and Banana Bread Sandwich
Assuming you can get your hands on banana bread (call Mom ASAP), make this sandwich to get all your favorite classic tastes with different nuances. Drizzle some honey on the PB for a whole new world.
10. Peanut Butter and Marshmallow Fluff Sandwich
You’re officially eight years old. And it feels great. This combo is best enjoyed on white Wonder bread cut into triangles, just like your sandwiches in grade school. Fluffy (of course), overly sweet and downright childish, this sandwich will make you smile. Marshmallow fluff is similar to Dunkaroos and Capri Sun in the sense that it’s a “kid thing” that restores your youth for the two and a half minutes that the sandwich is still in your hands.
Like I said, peanut butter is a spiritual experience. Not because it tastes so damn good (Why? Why do mashed up nuts and oil taste SO good?), but because it feels like home. Always safe, always an option and always, always Mom-approved. Now go make a sandwich and call home. It’ll be the best afternoon snack you’ve had since grade school.
P.S. Click here for not-so-average PB & J sandwiches.