Where:Chicago World Fair.

What:Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich is introduced. A fancy delicacy up until sliced bread was invented a decade later and PB&J became a common staple by the 1920’s.

For a century, PB&J ruled America, dominating kids’ lunch bags(adults’ too). Then half the country became allergic to peanuts, the other half to gluten, and everyone is trying to avoid sugar. (Clearly, exaggerated numbers… the CDC says about 6% of kids have food allergies, but it sure feels like half, doesn’t it?)
As retailers, food manufacturers, health coaches, nutritionists, we need to provide viable solutions that don’t feel clinical.
Gluten free bread, alternate nut butters, and finally, naturally sweetened jams close out the trifecta to create a new age of PB&J. But it’s time to spread our wings. There’s an under-used alternate that can solve multiple problems simultaneously, with and without the classic sandwich format. It:

1) Can take the place of meals and snacks.

2) Contains more than quadruple the nourishment.

3) Can be made ahead in big batches, saving time.

4) Carries no risk of contaminants when handled right.

5) Makes it easy to add power supplements invisibly into food, something a regular sandwich can’t do, and something modern bodies need.
Healthier Lunch Boxes
The solution is energy balls, but not necessarily shaped as balls. The immediate association with energy balls is a round, stickier version of a granola bar. But they can also be made with savory flavors, baked or dehydrated in the shape of bread, cakes, muffins, cookies, and even pizza crust.

Here’s the simplest base you can start with for raw snacks: Dates, ground flax seed, dried fruit. That’s it. 3 ingredients. You’ll need a splash of water to get the ground flax to mix in with the sticky dates. They’re both sticky and that helps hold the mixture without gluten. But not only that, you just eliminated one more common allergen that is often used in traditional baking: Eggs.

Now take that base and play. Soaked chia seeds to add omega-3’s (which ground flax already has). Replace the dried fruit with nut butters. Or add delicious supplement powders like Maqui or Berry Extracts to add color, flavor, flavonoids, antioxidants…
Go Ahead, Encourage Cookie Monsters
With or without nut butter, add chocolate chips, smash the energy ball down into a cookie shape, bake 10 minutes, and no need for that kid to feel left out while the other kids are eating gluten loaded cookies.

Allergic to all nuts? No problem. Dates, extra ripe banana, ground flax, banana flour, then add chocolate chips and bake. THAT easy. 5 risk-free ingredients with water in your food processor, 10-minute prep, and you have a healthy chocolate chip cookie. …And it comes with a thousand variations…
  • Raw cacao
  • Matcha tea powder
  • Coconut flakes
  • Nutritious seeds
  • Superfoods like mulberries
Savory Base
Use chick pea, quinoa, or lentil flour to start. Ground flax is your binder, now play… herbs, sun dried tomato, olives, zucchini, baked leftover squash… Add coconut oil for moisture and you’re ready to create healthy bread, flatbread, loaves, pizza crust, anything you want.
Build Supplements Right Into Food
Supplements like Siberian Ginseng, Ginkgo Biloba, and Turmeric blend right in, elevating all of the above into extra powerful food (just be mindful of which supplements maintain nutritional integrity with heat before you add to cooked recipes versus raw snacks).
Pure energy, easy, extra nutritious, this is win/win/win. The key is that all of the above can easily go into a lunch box and keep kids aged 5 to 95 perfectly happy,and you can even keep the PB in if you choose.

Jaqui Karr, CGP, CSN, CVD, is a best-selling author, speaker, and corporate consultantJaqui Karr who specializes in educating about gluten, celiac disease, specialty diets, and health through nutrition. Her popular “NakedFood” brand has helped thousands include more power raw and healing greens in their diet. Ms. Karr is a certified gluten practitioner, certified sports nutritionist, and certified vegan/vegetarian educator to dietitians. http://jaquikarr.com

Note: The statements presented in this column should not be considered medical advice or a way to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. Always seek the advice of a medical professional before altering your daily dietary regimen. The opinions presented here are those of the writer, not necessarily those of the publisher.