A secret ingredient in healthier PB&J

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Most kids — and many adults who want to remember being kids — love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Problem is, this lunchbox staple is high in fat and sugar. So it’s time for a remake of that beloved sandwich.

The first fix is the bread. Skip the fluffy white bread and go to multigrain or whole wheat. If texture is an issue, you always can opt for one of the soft varieties of whole wheat. Just be sure to read the packages, because so-called “wheat bread” often is made with mostly white flour. Opt for one that specifically says “100 percent whole wheat.”

The second fix is the jelly. Even the healthiest varieties are jammed with sugar. So we started with a base of all-fruit spread but add a healthy dose of fresh berries. This gives the sandwich just the right touch of sweetness and a big boost of fresh flavor.

The final trouble spot in the typical PB&J is the peanut butter. Opting for a natural, unsweetened peanut butter gets you on the right track (most other peanut butters are filled with unnecessary sweeteners and added oils). But even regular peanut butter is loaded with fat. So you want to use it sparingly — but that doesn’t taste nearly as good as really loading it on.

The solution? Mix together peanut butter and cooked instant oatmeal. Crazy? Maybe a little. But oatmeal already has a nutty, pasty quality to it. Mixed with peanut butter, it makes a delicious sandwich filling. Of course, be sure not to buy sweetened instant oatmeal. This recipe works just as well with any of the peanut butter alternatives.

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SANDWICH MAKEOVER

Start to finish: 15 minutes

Servings: 1

1 tablespoon instant oatmeal

3 tablespoons nonfat milk

Pinch salt

1 tablespoon natural unsalted peanut butter

¼ cup fresh berries, chopped

2 teaspoons all-fruit spread

2 slices multigrain or whole-wheat bread

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