Five Toddler Sandwich Alternatives to PB&J’s

Life couldn't be more different from when our mothers packed our school lunch.

  • Allergy friendly sandwich ideas
  • Opt out of gluten with cream cheese and red pepper roll ups

Life couldn’t be more different from when our mothers packed our school lunch. I think peanut butter and jelly sandwiches accounted for at least half of my childhood diet, but there is NO WAY parents today can send their kid to school or playdates with sandwiches filled with any kind of nut butters.

Nut allergies have swept the nation. According to a 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Prevention, food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 to 2011. Approximately six million (8%) of children now have some sort of food allergy—that’s one in every 13 children, or roughly two in every classroom in America. The largest allergen reported is allergy to tree nuts which impacts approximately three million children nationwide.

Whether your child has a food allergy or your child’s school has restrictions, tossing a PB&J in your child’s lunchbox could have very serious (or even deadly) repercussions.

Don’t stress! Below are five delicious and nutritious alternatives to PB&J sandwiches that we know your kiddos will love. If your child happens to have a gluten intolerance or allergy, drop by your local health food supermarket. Places like Whole Foods Market and Wegmans have expanded their gluten-free aisles and offer quite the selection of wheat alternatives.

Hummus Bagel

Yields 1 serving


• 1 bagel of choice (my boys love Everything Bagels)

• 3 tablespoons hummus

• 3 slices tomato

• 4 bread and butter pickles


1. Slice the bagel in half and toast for one minute (this will prevent the bagel from turning soggy prior to lunchtime).

2. Spread the hummus on one of the bagel slices.

3. Add a layer of tomato slices.

4. Add the pickles on top of the tomatoes and finally, top with the second bagel slice.

5. Slice the bagel down the middle, contain, and pack in your little one’s lunchbox.

Tomato Avocado Sandwich

Yields 1 sandwich


• 2 slices whole wheat or oatmeal bread

• 3 slices tomato

• ½ of an avocado, sliced

• 1 teaspoon manuka honey

• 1 teaspoon mustard

• Pinch sea salt


1. In a small bowl, combine the manuka honey, mustard and sea salt. Use a whisk to thoroughly combine and create a fresh honey mustard spread.

2. Lightly toast the bread slices to prevent them from turning soggy before lunchtime.

3. Spread the honey mustard onto both slices of bread.

4. On one piece of bread, layer the tomato slices followed by the avocado slices.

5. Close the sandwich with the second slice of bread. Slice and pack in your kiddo’s lunchbox.

Cream Cheese & Red Pepper Roll Up

Yields 1 wrap


• ¼ of a sweet bell pepper (red, orange or yellow), julienned

• 2 tablespoons organic cream cheese

• 1 whole wheat wrap


1. Warm the whole wheat wrap in a toaster oven so it becomes flexible enough to roll up without tearing or breaking.

2. Spread the cream cheese on one side of the wrap.

3. Add the bell pepper slices in a line down the middle of the wrap.

4. Roll to close up the wrap, contain and pack in the lunchbox.

Red Bean & Sweet Potato Burgers

Yields 8 servings


• 1 medium sweet potato, baked until fork-tender and skins removed

• 1 tablespoon grape seed oil

• ½ medium onion, diced

• 1 clove garlic, minced

• 1 ½ cups red beans, rinsed and dried

• 1 teaspoon fresh (or ½ teaspoon dried) oregano

• ½ teaspoon cumin

• ¼ teaspoon sea salt

• ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

• 1 whole wheat burger bun, toasted

• Condiments of choice like ketchup, mustard or mayo

• 1 slice tomato

• Fresh lettuce or kale leaves


1. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic in grape seed oil until tender and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and place in a large mixing bowl.

2. Add the sweet potato and one cup of the red beans to the mixing bowl.

3. Using a potato masher (or the back of a fork), mash the sweet potato and red beans until almost smooth.

4. Add the remaining beans, oregano, cumin, sea salt, and pepper. Use a wooden spoon to stir until just combined.

5. Heat the skillet over medium heat again (add a little more grape seed oil if necessary). While the skillet is heating, use your hands to form hamburger-sized patties with the mixture. One at a time, place the patties in the skillet. Cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side until cooked through and golden-brown in color.

6. Remove from heat. Place one patty on each of the burger bun bottoms. Add desired condiments and top with burger bun topper.

7. Contain and place in your little foodie’s lunchbox.

Tiny Tip: These red bean burgers are great to make in advance the night before. Reheat before serving.

Cream Cheese & Jam Sandwich

Yields 1 sandwich


• 2 slices of whole wheat or oatmeal bread

• 2 tablespoons organic cream cheese

• 1 tablespoon jam or preserve


1. Lightly toast the bread slices to prevent them from turning soggy before lunchtime.

2. On one bread slice, spread the cream cheese; on the other, spread the jam or preserves.

3. Close the sandwich, slice in half and pack up.


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