Thursday, October 10, 2013

Toasted (not) Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich 'Katybars'

Before you think I'm crazy, no - I haven't lost my mind and gone back to eating peanut butter. I'm pretty against peanuts and peanut butter now, but I used to love them. Now I just have too many reasons to avoid peanuts. For one, most peanut butter is loaded with sugar, which I don't eat anymore. Two - peanuts aren't really a nut, they are a legume, and I don't eat those anymore. Neither sugar nor legumes are part of a Paleo or Primal diet because they both cause inflammation, which leads to chronic illnesses. Have you read my post "What the heck is Paleo anyway?" If not, it might clear up some confusion you are having right now. If you aren't sold that peanuts are pretty bad for you, you can read these two articles from Mark's Daily Apple (1 & 2). He does a great job of explaining the science-y stuff!

BUT if you are already on the Paleo train with me, and get why we stay away from sugar and peanuts, you probably still miss a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich like I do. My paternal grandmother, Eloise, who I call "Gaga," used to make me the most special PB&J ever. She would lovingly cut off the crusts, lightly BUTTER the outside of the sandwich and stick the whole thing in the toaster oven until it was warm, crunchy and gooey. I thought she was a genius. I still do actually. She is an amazing woman, and without her I would not be the same person I am today. She has leopard print carpet in her house, and she was into animal prints and lime green way before Snooki was (unfortunately) a household name. She loves a party, she loves sunsets on the beach, and a good glass of red wine at the end of the day. Everyone who meets my grandmother can instantly tell that there is something special about her that radiates from her soul.

Ian and I had the privilege of living with my grandmother for a few years, and in that time, we became even closer, and she also came to genuinely love Ian. She would tell me all the time that he was the one I needed to hold onto for the rest of my life, and she was completely right. We moved in with my grandmother not long after my grandfather passed away from pancreatic cancer. My grandmother was in the early stages of dementia, and she referred to us as her "roommates." I miss that time so much, and I miss her. We live 7 hours away now, and her short term memory has gotten much worse, and she now has 24 hour care in her home. Every time I talk to her on the phone it is pretty hard because she asks over and over if me and Ian will come back to be her roommates again. Even though her memory has gotten pretty bad, she has never forgotten Ian's name, and she always tells me that she misses him too. She remembers that she could always tell when he came home from work because she could hear him singing on his way in the house.

Anyway, I know you guys just want to get to the recipe, but I just wanted to explain a little background of why this particular flavor of a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich is so special to me. Like that scene in Ratatouille where the food critic takes one bite and is immediately brought back to his mother's kitchen, when I first made and tested this new bar, the flavor was spot on like a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich that my grandmother used to make for me when I was a child.

There are tons of recipes out there for homemade larabars, but this is my addition to the growing pile. These are nut and peanut free, as I have used sunflower seeds, and they are also made with raisins, instead of dates, so they are a little more affordable. Since they are nut free, you can probably make them to take to school if your child is in a nut-free classroom.

Toasted (not) Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich 'Katybars'


16 oz of raw sunflower seeds (I used Trader Joe's Brand)
16 oz of Organic Thomson Seedless Raisins (again, I used Trader Joe's Brand)
1 tablespoon of grassfed butter or ghee (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt


1. In a large saute pan or skillet, melt the butter or ghee. Add the sunflower seeds and toast over medium heat for about ten minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning. (**If you do not eat butter because you have a milk allergy, you can omit the butter and just toast the sunflower seeds the same way, but dry, without any added oil. It is not necessary, it just adds to the toasted flavor!)
2. Once the sunflower seeds are toasted, add them into a large food processor, and process for about 30 seconds.
3. Add in the raisins and salt, and process another few minutes until the mixture comes together in a sticky ball.
4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread out the mixture onto a third of the pan.
5. Place another peiece of parchment paper on the top, and using a roling pin, smooth out the top so that you have one even layer.
6. Place in the fridge for 10-20 minutes, then use a sharp knife to cut into bars. You can also use cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes if you like.
7. This makes about 20 bars, depending on how large you cut them. Store in the fridge if you used the butter, or store in an airtight container on the counter if not.

I hope you guys love these as much as I do! If you grandmother is somewhere close by, go hug her for me, since I can't hug mine! I implore you guys to always be patient with someone suffering from short term memory problems. They are going to repeat things over and over, and I encourage you to just keep responding as if they haven't already told you that story. Their words are just as important, even if they aren't brand new each time. Even though my grandmother repeats herself all day, she has such a passion for life, and she refuses to give up, no matter how hard life has been for her at times. She has definitely made her life count, and I hope that someday I can be as good a grandmother to my grand kids as she was to me.


  1. great post i am using this Sandwich Toaster from last few months i never face any kind of problem from the date of the purchase it.

  2. Omg, when I was reading about your Gaga, I totally got teary-eyed! How sweet!

  3. What a beautiful post to accompany this recipe! I miss PBJs and I'm also a bit tired of spending so much money on Lara Bars, so I'm excited to try this!

  4. Sweet post! I made these and love them. I really wanted my son to like them, but he didn't. I knew there was a good chance he wouldn't go for them. I will keep making these for myself though.

  5. I made these tonight and they are DELICIOUS! I can't believe how much they taste like pb&j and how easy they were to make. My kids love these and I feel good about them eating them.

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