Few foods deserve their own big day, but if there was ever a comfort food that did, it’s the marriage of peanut butter and jelly. It should be no surprise, then, that this humble concoction is honored on April 2nd each year.
The origins of National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, like those of this lunch box staple itself, are murky. On the other hand, there’s plenty of information on the invention of peanut butter. The earliest references to peanuts date to about 950 BC in South America, where the ancient Incas ground them into paste. In the late 1800s, a St. Louis doctor reportedly ground peanuts into a paste for elderly, toothless patients. But the PB&J phenomenon didn’t really take hold until the 1940s, when American soldiers who had mixed individual rations of peanut butter and jelly together abroad during WWII returned home.
Now, the pairing is synonymous with lunch across the United States. Although many schools have banned the sandwiches due to peanut allergies, a survey published in a 2004 issue of the Journal of Food Distribution Research estimated that the average American will eat 1,500 of these sticky wonders by the time they graduate from high school. But the
PB&J isn’t just for kids. My colleague, Ben, eats one every day at the office. I think we’ve calculated that he spends less than $1 a day on lunch.
I’m not the most particular eater, but I do like my peanut butter and jelly a certain way. Grape is a way of life for most doe-eyed, pigtailed little girls. No thanks — I’ve always preferred strawberry. And never jelly. Only sweet, chunky strawberry preserves for me. I like the “jam” side of my bread
buttered, and with a peanut butter to jam ratio of about two to one. But as I grow older and my taste buds mature to appreciate the finer things in life, I’ve discovered that — sometimes — I appreciate the things I loved as a kid … with a twist.
Or in this case, a spin.
I’ve decided to introduce my favorite PB&J to the love of my kitchen life — my Vitamix. I shop at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s, where I never pay full price for a BCBG summer dresse or Tahari shoes. I buy Pottery Barn furniture at a discount on Craigslist. My point is, I am a bargain shopper. I want what I want at the lowest price possible, which is how I make my public radio salary stretch as far as possible.
This. Thing. Wasn’t. Cheap.
That said, I adore my Vitamix. While my food dehydrator and my food processor lurk in the depths of my cabinets
or on shelves just at tippy-toe reach, my Vitamix lives in it s own little house in a place of prominence in my kitchen. So, I thought I would pull it out to give it a little exercise.
That doesn’t mean you need one to make this easy recipe. Any old blender will do. Have some berries leftover from last week? Pull them out of the fridge and let’s make lunch!
Or breakfast, as the case may be …
Protein is a great way to start your day. Feel free to swap out peanut butter for almond, like April did this week. A bit healthier, and just as delicious.
This will keep you going until the lunch hour, so bottoms up!
1 cup almond milk
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 small banana
2 tablespoons peanut butter
Add all ingredients to blender and spin. Yes, it’s that easy.
This is much better cold, but since ice can make things a bit watery, try freezing the banana or strawberries. If you are using a blender, cut them up a bit first. A Vitamix can handle a whole frozen banana (in fact, ever tried banana “ice cream“? OMG!) but most regular blenders can’t. You can also play around with the ratio
of ingredients, depending on your tastes. This makes enough for one smoothie, but doubling is easy and encouraged — though it’s much better fresh.