Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back In School With PB&J

Whether you are dancing with jazz hands raised in the air or dragging your feet from that early morning alarm, there is no way around it - school is either already back in session or it is poking its head around the corner. I for one have a bittersweet struggle with school starting. I don't have a bunch of little ones clambering at my feet screaming from the roof tops they are bored all the time. I have the last of my sweet ones about to start high school. This summer was particularly hard as she found herself dedicated to a summer babysitting job and I taught a summer cooking camp for kids. This meant that our now-annual summer trip to California to visit friends, family and the beach did not happen.

I will, in a couple days, pack her up and whisk her off to Port Aransas for a little bit of beach air and gulf sand before school starts. Maybe if I'm relaxing on that warm sand breathing in the salty air it will give me the right amount of perspective to hand that summer torch of lazy meals and staying up late over to the rigid schedules and structured meal planning of the school year. Until then I will bask in what's left of the summer and enjoy my healthy version of the classic PB&J... I might even pack some of these wonderful treats to munch on at on the beach... I'm jus' sayin'!

I was never a big traditional PB&J fan so creating this bar makes perfect sense to me. I'm fortunate that whenever my husband is away on business he always brings home some little food treat for me from wherever he's been. Many times it's simply stuff from Trader Joe's to stock my pantry, but this latest trip provided a real treat.

He was invited to a home-cooked meal at a friend's house and she sent him home with some delicious Plum Jam and Plum BBQ Sauce. Thanks Anita! It's a real comfort to know he is being well fed while on the road and always a treat to receive a gift from someone else's kitchen. I used the plum jam for these bars and I see several savory dishes in my future with that BBQ sauce.

I also switched the peanut butter in this recipe for sunflower seed butter as my husband is allergic to peanuts. In this case, the sunflower seed butter was also a gift, this one from my friend Sam in Arizona who loves to surprise me with TJ's care packages from time-to-time. (I'm such a lucky girl!) You can certainly use any nut butter you like. I also added 2 tbs. of ground flaxseed for an extra boost. That way, if the kids decide that these bars make a great breakfast, you won't freak out as they have a good solid punch with the oats and flax seed.

Not Your Average PB&J Bars

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tbs. of ground Flax Seed
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup of nut butter (I warmed mine a few seconds in the microwave to help it spread evenly)
2/3 cup favorite jam (I used Anita's "Mother Rucker" Plum Jam)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line an 8"x8" pan with parchment paper. Combine brown sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and rolled oats. Rub in the butter using your hands or a pastry blender to form a crumbly mixture. Press 2 cups of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Carefully spread nut butter over crumble mixture. I found using an offset spatula works the best. Spread the jam to within 1/4 inch of the edge. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top, and lightly press it into the jam. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool before cutting into bars.


  1. I LOVE plum jam and I just know I'm going to love these bars, too!

    1. Maggie-I am secretly hoping J does not read this post as she is not a fan of anything flax and she has been eating these 2 mornings in a row declaring they are tasty each time. I also like the added boost of nutrition from the sunflower seed butter, more omegas for our diet so to speak.

  2. Girl, This looks amazing! Delicious + healthy = the perfect snack! Your trip to the beach sounds like fun. I haven't had my Port A fix yet this summer. Might have to go in the fall:)

    1. Steph, you have to get to the beach before the summer ends it's a matter of passage. JK but I have to say it will be just what we need to start my favorite season. Fall lovely beautiful Fall I can never get enough. So do you have any eating recommendations in Port A? I've only been once.

    2. Sorry, I'm probably late in posting this....My husband likes Snoopy's We also like

  3. These look so good! I must try these!

  4. Oh please do Sarah, and let me know how you like them. Thanks for stopping by the site and now it's my turn to stop by yours. Welcome to AFBA too.