Tag Archives: peanut butter

Jar Lunch: PB & J

The Jar Lunch: It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

Instead of the standby lunch sandwich, how about a peanut butter and jelly yogurt parfait? If you are skeptical about peanut butter in yogurt, I understand. I’ve tried it before to not-so-great results. This lunch was inspired by Levi, who taught me that peanut butter and jam yogurt really works. We eat plain yogurt with homemade jam just about every single day, and he decided to add some peanut butter. I went with his discovery and just added fruit.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Yogurt Parfait

Ingredients per lunch:
3/4 cup fresh fruit (sliced strawberries, blackberries, blueberries)
1 tablespoon jam
one cup plain yogurt
1 heaping tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon sweetener (sugar, cane syrup, agave, honey)

In one bowl, combine fruit and jam until evenly coated. In another bowl, whisk together yogurt, peanut butter, and sweetener. Layer fruit and yogurt into pint-sized mason jars.

All that is missing here is a sprinkling of granola.

Next time I’m going to have to try Elvis-style, with bananas and honey.

Please add your photos to the Jar Lunch Flickr pool for this or any other jar lunches you make!

See our other Jar Lunches here.


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Tagalong-Trefoil Cheesecake Bars

In our neck of the woods, we’re approaching Girl Scout cookie season! Since Jess is a life-long and professional Girl Scout, cookie season is an important part of our year. The other day, Jess asked me to come up with a Girl Scout cookie dessert to make that night for a work potluck. I quickly settled on the idea of cheesecake bars featuring two different cookies.

My first thought was that Trefoils (or Shortbread Cookies depending on your geographic location) would pair well with a lot of the other cookies. How about a Trefoil shortbread crust? Mmm, shortbread!

I thought peanut butter cheesecake might be good, so I went with Tagalongs for the second cookie (or Peanut Butter Patties depending on your geographic location).

And so Tagalong Cheesecake Bars with a Trefoil Crust were born. I’m told they were a hit at the potluck, and I know Levi and I sure enjoyed the little pieces that were left behind for us.

Tagalong-Trefoil Cheesecake Bars

for the crust:
1 box Trefoil cookies
½ cup butter, melted
¼ cup sugar

for the filling:
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
⅓ cup peanut butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons flour
4 eggs
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 box Tagalong cookies

Preheat the oven to 325° F.

In a food processor, pulse the Trefoil cookies until finely ground (makes a little over 2 cups). In a medium bowl, stir together the ground Trefoils, melted butter, and sugar. Press the mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9X13” pan.

In a stand mixer, mix the cream cheese, peanut butter, brown sugar, and flour until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the milk and vanilla and mix on low speed until combined.

Roughly chop the Tagalong cookies. Sprinkle half of the chopped cookies evenly over the prepared crust, and then pour the filling mixture on top. Sprinkle the remaining Tagalong cookie crumbles evenly over the top of the filling.

Bake at 325° F for 40-45 minutes. The center should be set, only jiggling slightly. Cool and then chill completely before cutting into bars.

Find out when cookie season happens in your area at girlscoutcookies.org, or better yet, get a Girl Scout Cookie app for your phone.


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broiled banana peanut butter toast

Through the magic of Pinterest, I discovered sliced banana toasts. I thought the concept of broiling bananas on top of toast was brilliant, so I decided to try it with our frequent breakfast of whole wheat toast, peanut butter, and banana.

The verdict? Awesome. I simply toasted some whole grain bread, spread a tablespoon of butter on top, topped it with a sliced banana, and popped it under the broiler.

I also sprinkled them with cinnamon, although I realized that next time I ought to try a dusting of cocoa powder. The brown sugar in the original recipe looks pretty terrific, too.


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It’s peanut butter chili time

We didn’t mean to fall of the face of the, er, blogosphere. We’ve gone full speed ahead into our goals for February. I’m walking to work everyday while I’m on a humane work schedule for awhile. Jess is doing yoga again. We’re trying to fit in further exercise at the gym and so far mostly failing at that. We have, however, met our big goal of tracking our food on sparkpeople.com and that is going really well.

We’re also almost completely cooking healthy food at home. I bet you’re wondering what we ate for our first meal out. This Friday Jess worked in Seattle, and Levi and I met her there. Not before stopping in Ballard for some cupcakes and con pannas.

That is the only coffee that has been purchased at a coffee shop so far. We have been pretty content with drinking toddy and stove-top espresso at home.

Strawberry frosted cupcakes with chocolate ganache and some heart sprinkles! The perfect way to celebrate the somewhat stressful end of Levi’s first high school semester. He was doing non-stop homework for the last 3 weeks.

I don’t have pictures of our dinner out. We decided some good ol’ vegan Chinese from Bamboo Garden in Seattle was worthy of our money. We gorged ourselves on fried rice and noodles and deep fried faux chicken, and as always they commented on how tall Levi has gotten. Many of the same people are there that have known him since he was a baby. Perfect place for our first meal out!

We are no longer calculating the cost of everything, but we’re still making a lot of the same food:

We had to make those delicious broccoli quiches again.

And we’re really getting into our groove on meal planning. This weekend we easily plotted out an entire week’s worth of food. That is an improvement over our usual 3 or 4 day ahead plan. I think before too long we will have worked out a perfect spreadsheet for a week of meals. It still is time consuming when you add in making the grocery list and doing the shopping.

Here’s the first of the really successful new recipes we’ve tried since our $5 a day project ended:

vegetarian chili with peanut butter

If you remember the black bean espresso chili, AKA Baller’s Chili, you know we love secret ingredient chili recipes. Well, I now have two absolute favorite chili recipes. Once again I reduced the oil in the original recipe to keep the fat down a little. I figured 1/2 cup peanut butter was enough, so I just used a tablespoon of olive oil to sauté the onion and garlic. This recipe was TO DIE FOR.

If you were dying to know if we are still obsessed with peanut butter, you have your answer.


Filed under family, food

day twenty-five

(Click here for an explanation of the project.)

Here’s what we ate for $2.74 yesterday, January 26, 2011.


whole wheat peanut butter waffle $0.18
2 tablespoons maple syrup $0.15
banana $0.25


tempeh curry $0.66
1/2 cup cooked quinoa $0.18


leek & potato soup $0.52
1/3 block baked high protein tofu $0.66


2 peanut butter no bake cookies $0.14

total $2.74

Leeks! We haven’t taken much advantage of our rule that stuff from our garden is free during this project. Even though we try to change up our garden, leeks are something we will probably grow every single year. Leeks are not cheap, never mind organic leeks. We have a ton of them despite our less than stellar gardening weather this past year. Go leeks!

This soup tastes like a big bowl of buttery leeks and creamy potatoes. The orange color comes from carrots. We used vegan bouillon cubes instead of chicken broth and omitted the bone marrow. To keep the cost down we also used dried dill. We splurged on organic carrots and potatoes. And with the biggest expense, the leeks, being free, it was only 52 cents per bowl.

Our cost for the day was so low we decided to go for dessert, and our friend Patrice’s chocolate oatmeal refrigerator cookies had reminded me of the cookies my dad used to always whip up without warning when we were kids. There are about a billion recipes online for chocolate peanut butter no bake cookies.

Now that I’ve made them as an adult, I get why my dad loved to make them. They are super delicious, incredibly cheap, and take like five minutes to make. Seriously, you dump a few ingredients in a pot, bring it to a boil, boil for a minute, and then stir in peanut butter, oatmeal, and vanilla. You do have to wait a bit for them to set up, but you can speed the process up in the fridge or freezer. They are sugary, fattening cookies. They aren’t exactly healthy, but as far as cookies go, at least these ones have some protein and fiber.


2 cups sugar $0.50
4 tablespoons cocoa $0.32
1 stick butter $0.63
1/2 cup milk $0.13
1 cup peanut butter $0.64
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups oatmeal $0.59

Makes 40 small cookies (we made a half batch and got 20).

Total $2.81
7 cents per cookie

The only ingredient I haven’t priced is vanilla. We don’t do Costco, but we buy a big bottle of vanilla at the local restaurant supply store (you don’t have to pay to shop there!) and it lasts an eternity.


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day twenty

(Click here for an explanation of the project.)

Here’s what we ate for $3.87 yesterday, January 21, 2011.


steelcut oats (from 1/3 cup dry) $0.10
2 tablespoons raisins $0.08
1 tablespoon slivered almonds $0.06
2 teaspoons brown sugar $0.02


1 cup dal palak $0.93 (it just keeps going)
1 cup cooked quinoa $0.36


grilled satay peanut sandwich $0.91
organic Cameo apple $0.52


1/3 cup soy milk (with coffee) $0.09
banana $0.25
tablespoon of organic peanut butter $0.09
8 ounces plain lowfat yogurt $0.40
1 tablespoon honey $0.06

total $3.87

Woohoo, two-thirds through! I spent so much time today plotting and planning and grocery shopping, it feels good to know it’s downhill from here on out. At the same time, I want to implement a lot of the stuff we’re doing into our everyday lives minus the tight restrictions and all the calculations. Do you have a dry erase board on your fridge with your meals for the week? Or a spreadsheet system? Do tell!

I am not really sure why we are eating so much peanut butter. A banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter is my new favorite snack and I may be a little obsessed, but I don’t know how it has made its way into so many meals. We are trying to eat more protein, but I normally try to keep it lower in fat. Tonight’s dinner had a decadent amount of peanut butter. It had so much peanut butter I was worried about cost and bought some cheaper stuff that was not organic, although we have found the best deal on organic seems to be Trader Joe’s at $2.50 for a 16 ounce jar. That even beats the bulk organic stuff at the co-op.

The first time we made these sandwiches we added seitan. That was pretty spectacular, but we can’t afford store-bought seitan and haven’t found the time to make homemade. We decided to get a little crazy and add a fried egg, and boy was that ever a good idea. And a little Sriracha doesn’t hurt either. Except Levi. He was happy without it.

I chuckled for a good minute when I saw this photo. Poor kid, his mom keeps taking his picture while he eats.

Here’s the cost on dinner:

6 day-old ciabatta rolls $2.66
1-1/2 cups peanut butter $0.96
2 tablespoons soy sauce $0.06
2 tablespoons brown sugar $0.04
2 tablespoons lime juice $0.09
1/4 sliced red onion $0.11
4 ounces bean sprouts $0.45
3 tablespoons fresh grated ginger root (leftover)
handful of cilantro for K only (too small to calculate)
2 tablespoons canola oil $0.06
6 eggs $1.02

Our big score was finding the exact kind of day-old bread we wanted. We would have gone with something else otherwise.

Oh, and I promise no oatmeal tomorrow!


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chocolate peanut butter smoothies

The milkshake of smoothies. A meal in a glass. Have it for breakfast, although it’s sweet enough for dessert.

Per person, throw the following in your blender:

1 fresh banana $0.25
1 frozen ripe banana, chopped $0.25
1 tablespoon organic peanut butter $0.11
1-1/2 tablespoons cocoa $0.12
1/2 cup almond milk $0.13

total: $0.86

Full nutrtion information here, calculated via sparkpeople.com recipe calculator.


Filed under food, recipes

peanut butter & banana baked oatmeal

In honor of Elvis’ birthday this upcoming Saturday, a PB + banana breakfast. Perhaps if he had lived to be 76 he would be okay with this healthy bastardization of some of his favorite foods. To keep with our $5 a day plan of cheap and healthy, we tried to put just enough peanut butter and sugar to make it delicious.

Best served warm with a little dollop of blackberry jam.

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup organic crunchy peanut butter
1-1/2 cups almond milk (our your milk of choice)
1-1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups mashed (leaving some lumps) ripe banana, about 4 medium bananas
1/4 cup unsalted Spanish peanuts, roughly chopped


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prep a 9X13″ baking dish (spray, grease, or line with parchment).

In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients and set aside.

In a stand mixer, beat eggs, peanut butter, milk, water, and vanilla until smooth. Add the mashed bananas and oat mixture and stir until combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. About 5 to 10 minutes into the baking time, when the top of the oatmeal has started to firm up, sprinkle the peanuts on top.

Makes nine 3 X 4-1/3″ servings.

Click here for the complete nutrition info, calculated with the sparkpeople.com recipe calculator.

And the cost per serving? Forty-three cents. Not bad for a filling breakfast that will stick to your ribs.

Here is the cost breakdown:

78 cents for bulk oats, 12 cents of sugar, 34 cents for two eggs, $1 for 4 bananas, 58 cents worth of organic peanut butter*, 75 cents of almond milk, and 27 cents bulk Spanish peanuts.

The ingredients not calculated into the cost: baking powder, water, and vanilla extract.

*We splurged for organic peanut butter since it is supposed to be one the most pesticide-laden foods.


Update: This recipe has turned into a family favorite that we still eat all the time even though we’re no longer limited to $5/day. We have perfected it by using a 1/2 cup peanut butter and cutting it into 12 portions instead of 9.


Filed under food, recipes