If you were playing Family Feud
and you had to name something that someone might spread on a sandwich, peanut butter would surely be at the top of the list. The ubiquitous peanut butter and jelly sandwich is still a lunchbox staple. But if your child has been diagnosed with a peanut allergy
, packing a lunch may have gotten unexpectedly complicated. Here are nine alternatives you may not have thought of to the old standby PB&J.
1. Cream cheeseNot for the dairy allergic, of course, but cream cheese has several virtues as a sandwich spread. It's got a thick, spreadable texture; it acts as a moisture barrier to keep bread from getting soggy; and it comes in flavors from fruit (to go with jelly) to chopped vegetable (to go with cold cuts).
2. GuacamoleGuacamole is hearty enough to stand on its own as a sandwich topping. It goes especially well in pitas and tortillas and makes a nice counterpart to chicken.
3. Whole berry cranberry sauceMany families buy cranberry sauce once a year: at thanksgiving. But it's a lovely counterpart to turkey or chicken sandwiches throughout the school year. I suggest adding mayonnaise to keep your bread from getting soggy.
A Middle Eastern appetizer that's beginning to gain wider recognition in the United States, you can buy this sesame-bean spread at the deli counter of many major supermarkets or make your own using my easy recipe. High in protein, it's especially good for vegetarian families.
5. Vegetable Purees
Many kids who won't eat vegetables in their whole forms will eat them if they're cleverly disguised. Vegetable purees, like Red Pepper Puree
, are colorful and tasty, betraying little hint of their healthful origins. They make excellent sandwich spreads, though you'll want to add a moisture barrier like cream cheese, butter, or oil to prevent soggy bread.
6. Salad DressingSalad dressings are a potential source of hidden allergens, so do check labels closely. But your child's favorite dressing might be delicious on a sandwich. Try bleu cheese, ranch, or thousand island.
7. Bean DipsLike hummus, Mexican-inspired bean dips make hearty sandwich spreads. Serve them with Colby-Jack or Asadero cheese and some salsa.
8. Soy and Sunflower Butters
Two items specifically created for kids with peanut allergies (or who might be attending peanut-free schools
) are "soy nut" butter and sunflower seed butter. You'll find these in the health or specialty food aisle of your grocery store, at specialty retailers like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, or at health food stores. Both are peanut and tree nut-free, although soy nut butter is obviously not safe for children with soy allergies
9. Other Nut ButtersCAUTION
: This may be a risky alternative, as some children who are allergic to peanuts are allergic to other tree nuts
as well. However, if your child has been tested and is definitely allergic to only peanuts and not to other tree nuts, other nut butters will be the nearest experience to peanut butter you can get. Almond butter, cashew butter, and hazelnut butter are relatively widely available. Talk to your allergist or dietitian if you have any concerns about the suitability of tree nut butters for your child's diet.