Anatomy of a PB&J

by Leighann on April 9, 2010

I have to say that the way I make PB&J’s for the kids did not change after my daughter’s diagnosis.

The sandwich that finds itself on the lunch plate of millions of kids each day can be quite carb-loaded and unhealthy in general:

White bread, sugar-added jelly, and sugar-added peanut butter.

Traditional PB&J

Let’s see what the carb count is, making it the traditional way:

2 slices of Wonder Classic White Bread

  • 28 grams carbs
  • Wonder does not list ingredients on their website.*

1 tablespoon of Smucker’s Strawberry Jelly

  • Strawberry juice
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Corn syrup
  • No actual fruit
  • 13 grams carbs

1 tablespoon of Jif Creamy Peanut Butter

  • Made from peanuts and sugar
  • Also contains molasses, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils, mono and diglycerides, salt
  • 3.5 grams carbs
  • This choosy mom does not choose Jif.
  • (Skippy does not list ingredients on their website.*)

Now I’m not saying that wouldn’t make quite a delightful sandwich, but I have never made ’em that way. And I certainly won’t give my daughter a PB&J that has 44.5 grams of carbs!

Chez D-Mom Blog PB&J

Here’s how I have always made this American classic:

2 slices of Healthy Life Original 100%Whole Wheat Whole Grain Bread

  • No high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • No partially hydrogenated oil
  • No trans fats
  • Does contain brown sugar
  • 16 grams carbs for two slices

1 tablespoon of Polaner All Fruit Strawberry

  • Made with juice concentrate and strawberries
  • Sweetened only with fruit and fruit juice
  • 10 grams carbs

1 tablespoon of Smucker’s Natural Creamy Peanut Butter

  • Ingredients: peanuts, salt, that’s it!
  • 3 grams carbs

Total carbs for this sandwich is only 29. And you could actually reduce it to 24 if you use 1/2 tablespoon of fruit spread.

It’s a good sandwich with no particularly bad ingredients. And we didn’t even use artificial sweeteners to keep it low.

Freezer to Lunchbox PB&J

Smucker's Uncrustables

Lower carbs, yet has a bunch of bad ingredients.

Now here’s the scary thing: Smucker’s Uncrustables PB & Strawberry Jam on Whole Wheat actually have fewer carbs and take all of 15 seconds to throw in the lunch box. Now I’m not condoning them because they do contain HFCS. But they are 25 grams of carbs. And my child will eat the entire sandwich, leaving no crust behind.

Here’s the bad:

  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Corn syrup
  • Sugar
  • Partially hydrogenated soybean oil

Smucker’s, if you are reading this, please take out these ingredients. I would rather not feed them to my kids.

Here’s the good:

  • First ingredient listed is unbleached whole wheat flour
  • 25 grams of carbs
  • 7 grams of protein
  • Easy


I buy them occasionally for the lunchbox. My recent wrist surgery made me pretty incompetent when it came to spreading anything on a slice of bread, let alone slicing it into perfect triangles.

So there you have it: I’m admitting that I’m not perfect and sometimes make small compromises.

Note: Smucker’s website gives nutritional information, but fails to give serving sizes. This is something the company should change.

Smucker's Label

Smucker's doesn't list serving sizes on their website.

*Note: The Jif and Wonder websites gives nutritional information, but fail to list ingredients. Makes me think they have something to hide.

*For a post about, in my opinion, intentionally deceptive labeling on the part of Wonder, read Wonder Bread – Deceitful on Fooducate.

How do you make PB&J’s for your kiddos? Is there a packable (i.e., no ice pack required) sandwich that you send in the lunchbox?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michelle April 9, 2010 at 9:00 am

I make mine pretty similarly: whole grain wheat bread, natural fruit spread….only I’ve been using Jif creamy peanut butter lately. I am going to have to check out the Smuckers peanut butter though!

Thanks for an awesome blog for us D-moms! I found you just recently and have been following via facebook!


2 Lee Ann Thill April 9, 2010 at 9:10 am

Haha, I’m all over a post about peanut butter like, well, peanut putter on a PBJ!

When I was growing up, I always ate the all-fruit jams, but since Smuckers started making the Splenda-sweetened jam, that’s all I’ll buy. I like that it tastes more like regular jam which I hated that I couldn’t eat as a kid. Of course, it’s less natural since it’s got Splenda, so that’s the trade-off, but it only has 5g crabs per serving, so it’s less than the all-fruit kind.

I guess you only use 1T of PB? I use a whole serving, 1T on each slice of bread. For the last couple of years, I was using Smart Balance because it has omega-3 and a serving was only 5g carbs. The dummies changed their recipe though, which really annoyed me. They have a couple of different varieties now, and the one with the fewest carbs has 6 or 7g carbs (I can’t remember now). I’ve been buying different brands now, but haven’t settled on one yet.


3 Renata Porter April 9, 2010 at 4:23 pm

We use all grain bread. All natural jelly, so it still has sugar..but it’s the sugar from the fruit. And natural PB. I get the one that stays mixed, I didn’t have hte patience for the one I had to stir every time to get the oil back in. The PB is good for the kids…protien. (that’s what I am going with) The kids weren’t too keen at first on the switch to all natural at first, but they are use to it now.
Also, a trick I learned. If you spread a thin layer of PB on each pc of bread, it keeps the jelly from leaking through while it sits in the lunch box. Another thing I do is put pb and jelly and mix it one of those little tiny containers and then give them ritz. They like to dip it or spread it on themselves.


4 Joanne April 9, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Believe it or not, Elise has never had a PB&J sandwich… mostly due to the high carb amount and all the crap that was in the jams. I’ll need to look out for the one you mentioned though. Always looking for foods to add to her repertoire!


5 Barb Ibrahim April 12, 2010 at 10:17 pm

So we do PB&J every school day. She has been diagnosed 3 months so we are still in the adjustment phase. I got tired of making them every school day so I make 5 at a time and freeze them and pull them out of the freezer the same day she eats them. I have not worried about a freezer pack.

We do potato bread, bad I know, Jif creamy (I prefer natural) and Smuckers made with Splenda. I don’t count the PB carbs, but maybe I am doing it wrong. The sandwich ends up being 52 carbs, but she is 10 and her goal is 60-70 per meal.


6 Dana January 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm

We use 100% Whole Wheat Bread (which is provided by WIC), Creamy peanut butter (store brand, and also provided by WIC, otherwise I would go for an all natural and really like the Smuckers), and strawberry jelly with reduced sugar. The only part that I don’t like giving him is the jam but I have had a hard time finding an inexpensive healthy alternative. We have used apple butter before and he liked that a lot. It still had sugar but didn’t have high fructose corn syrup. Since we use 1 tbsp of pb (4 carbs) and 1 tbsp of jelly (6 carbs) it ends up being anywhere from 30-50 carbs depending on where I get our WIC stuff (changes the carbs in the bread that is allowed). But that is his exact carb range and since he has water to drink and nothing else to eat its not a big deal one way or the other.


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