Loving the BITE: Home-Made PB&J

It’s a staple of almost all athletes’ diets.  The Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. Whether in daily nutrition, pre-training, during training, or recovery, I’m hard-pressed to think of a cyclist who doesn’t rely on them, at least a little.  This week, Loving the Bite’s bringing you a recipe for this old favorite, using whole-food fresh ingredients.  It may just be the best sandwich you’ve tasted in a long time.  No joke…the PB & J’s going fresh.

Whole Food, Home-Made, Fresh PB & J

Step 1: Easiest-Ever (Really!), Fresh, Honey Fruit Jam (make 24 hours ahead of time)

Ingredients:

  • 1 box or package low-sugar or no-sugar-added pectin (you can adjust amount so fruit and honey (substituted for sugar) using the instructions for your particular brand of pectin)
  • 4 Cup strawberries (2 quarts) or any other fruit
  • 1-2 Cup raw honey
  • If using peaches, add ½-1 Tbsp lemon juice to preserve color

Instructions: 

  1. Clean 3 pint-size Mason jars. No need to sterilize.
  2. Prepare the fruit by cutting off leaves, removing pits, etc.
  3. Place the fruit in a large mixing bowl or food processor.  Add the honey to the fruit.  Mix well and crush with a potato masher OR process slightly in the food processor, leaving whole fruit chunks and not allowing it to get too thin.  Make sure the honey is mixed well.
  4. Add the pectin mixture to the fruit.  If using peaches, add the lemon juice.  Stir for three minutes.
  5. Pour the resulting mixture into prepared jars, leaving a half-inch of headspace at the top of each jar. Screw on lids.
  6. Allow to stand at room temperature for 24 hours, or until thickened.
  7. Serve, freeze or refrigerate immediately (this recipe won’t gel quite as thick as commercial or cooked jam – but, it’s plenty thick enough for sandwiches or over plain yogurt – at a fraction of the work).

Step 2: Delicious Fresh Nut Butter 

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. peanuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, or any mixture of them
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil, almond oil, flaxseed oil or peanut oil
  • ¼-½ Cup ground flaxseeds

Instructions:

  1. Place the nuts and flaxseeds in a food processor and beginning processing.  It may take some time.  And beware, it’s loud.
  2. Scrape the sides, if needed.  If it seems to dry, add oil (small amounts as needed).
  3. Keep processing until desired consistency.  If you like crunchy nut butters, add more nuts to the processed, smooth butter and process as needed.
  4. Place nut butter in clean mason jars or containers and store in the refrigerator.

Step 3: World’s Best Fresh PB&J Instructions:

  1. Spread fresh jam and fresh nut butter on whole grain or sourdough bread.  My favorite combo is strawberry jam and cashew nut butter.
  2. If using as recovery fuel, add 1 Tbsp softened coconut oil to the mix.  Your energy levels and retained muscle mass will thank you.

Comments:

With all the nourishing goodness offered by this sandwich, it’s hard to know where to start and where to end.  This week, I’ll keep it brief so you’ll have extra time to make your fresh jam & nut butter.

From the jam you’ll get antioxidants, fiber, slow, whole-food carbohydrates with a relatively low glycemic index, and enzymes from the whole fruit and honey.  These nutrients will combat free radicals and oxidative stress built up in your cells, promote healthy digestion and absorption of nutrients, and offer carbohydrates for fuel and energy without too high a level of sugar.

The nut butter provides healthy fats (monounsaturated and omega-3s), protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber from nuts and flaxseeds.  As a cyclist, you can count on these ingredients to promote healthy hormonal responses to food, heart health, muscle recovery and a reduction in muscle wasting after training, and a reduced cellular inflammation and oxidative stress.

Altogether, you’ll have a wonderful, fresh, whole-food sandwich in your hands that promotes overall health and offers a good fuel source for training.  And, you’ll never feel uncertain feeding yourself or your kids PB&Js again.

Fuel Your Ride.  Nourish Your Body.