Top 5: Alternatives for the “P” in PB&J

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With peanut allergies on the rise, more schools dictate what parents can put in kids’ lunches. For many, that means no more peanut butter and jelly. As parents everywhere take on the challenge of figuring out what to make their kids for lunch every day, these five alternative spreads may help make the ban on peanuts easier to swallow.

Cream Cheese and Jelly

English Muffin with Jelly

Cream cheese’s thick, smooth texture and pronounced tanginess perfectly complements jelly’s sweet, fruity flavor. If you’re using strawberry jam, add freshly sliced strawberries for texture. These simple sandwiches are also great on crispy rice cakes, which helps keep the filling from making the bread soggy. Kids tend to like the appealing crunch. Try using different flavored rice cakes, jellies and cream cheeses for variety. Just be sure to pack a cold pack, so the cream cheese stays fresh.

Sunflower Butter and Jelly

Whether your child’s classroom is nut-free or you’re simply looking for a change of pace, sunflower-seed butter is a tasty alternative to peanut butter. It pairs well with jelly or honey, as well as bananas, carrots and ants on a log—almost anywhere you would use peanut butter. Sunflower butter is a little looser than peanut butter so be sure to pack an extra napkin!

Sesame Butter and Sour Cherry Jelly

If you’re feeling really adventurous, try pairing sesame butter with jelly. Sesame butter is a thick paste made of ground sesame seeds. It’s similar to tahini, which is used to flavor Middle Eastern dishes such as a hummus and baba ganoush. We recommend pairing sesame butter with a very tart jam and a drizzle of honey.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread and Jelly

If your child is allowed to bring hazelnuts to school, these sandwiches make for a special treat! Raspberry jelly works really well with the chocolate flavors. Make these sandwiches on whole-wheat bread and pack plenty of fruits and veggies on the side to make sure your kiddo is getting a balanced lunch.

Creamy brie is the perfect alternative to your traditional PB&J. This cheese is rich, mild and soft enough to spread easily on crackers or bread. Pair it with a fig or apricot jam for an extra savory treat.

Keep in mind, it is estimated that 1-2 percent of the U.S. population is allergic to tree nuts, peanuts or both. If your child’s school is completely nut-free, some of the above recipes may be off-limits. You’ll have to avoid almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, filberts, hazelnuts, hickory nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts and more.