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Peanut Butter and Jelly Alternatives

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As a defiant response to Sad Desk Lunches, the Food52 team works to keep our midday meals both interesting and pretty. Each week, we'll be sharing our happiest desk lunches -- and we want to see yours, too.

Today: Level up your PB&J.

Cinnamon Nut Butter

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Good old PB&J gets a lot of flack for being an uninspired lunch. There’s nothing inherently wrong with them -- they’ve been around this long for a reason -- but sometimes you need to spice things up a bit. If you’re feeling rushed to throw together a quick sandwich for work, we’ve got some inspiration to help you do one better than the average Skippy and strawberry jam:

1. Pick a different spread. If you just want to slather something on bread and be done with it, mix up your options. You can experiment with different nut butters in place of the peanut butter. You can choose to swap out the jelly for honey, or go even further -- basically, anything nutty or sweet is pretty good between two slices of bread. Here are some awesome flavor combinations:

More: Use a knife that's built for sandwiches.

Tomato Jam

2. Spice things up: Cinnamon is amazing on a PB&J. You know what else is surprisingly awesome? Peanut butter mixed with honey and red pepper flakes (some spicy honey also has the same effect). Or test out your own concoctions, like this spicy Thai version.

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3. Add some crunch: Scatter some granola between your peanut butter and jelly for a crunchy sandwich. Or use dried fruit for another interesting texture. If you want a sweeter combo, use peanut butter with some chocolate chips thrown in for good measure. And if you walk on the wild side, put some potato chips in that PB&J.

Or, you can ignore all of this advice and add some ice cream in between two slices of bread for an ice cream sandwich and call it lunch. Just kidding! Sort of.

Tell us: What's your favorite PB&J-style combination?

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: not sad desk lunch, lunch, PB&J, peanut butter and jelly, lunch ideas