Some days when it’s time for lunch, only a sandwich will do. When done right, a lunchtime sandwich can be an incredibly satisfying, nutrient-dense, balanced meal that can stabilize blood sugar and keep you energized all afternoon. You can assemble your own delicious sandwich the night before and not only save money but hundreds of unwanted calories.
Build a nutritious sandwich by using whole grain bread, pita pockets or wraps, which have a lower glycemic load than processed white varieties. You can also remove some of the soft middle from a bagel or a 6-inch French roll to further reduce the glycemic load of the bread, as well as create additional space for the sandwich fillings. Spread the bread with healthy fat from approximately 1/4th of an avocado or with a mixture of a canola-oil-based mayonnaise, mustard and avocado seasoned with fresh herbs like dill, basil or chives. Next, pile on a variety of crunchy and delicious, low-glycemic vegetables such as thinly sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and salad greens. I use salad greens like kale, spinach, red leaf lettuce or baby arugula for a peppery, earthy flavor. You can even add some mild banana pepper rings or jalapeno peppers for a spicy kick. By adding a variety of vegetables to a sandwich you can increase the nutritional benefits they provide while still keeping calories low. It’s like eating a salad with your sandwich!
Finally, add about three to five ounces of lean protein. Sandwich meats are a rich source of protein that contain essential amino acids, along with iron, zinc, B-vitamins and magnesium. Choose meats such as sliced roasted turkey or chicken breast, lean roast beef or black forest ham. If you’re watching sodium, avoid deli sliced meats and roast a chicken breast, beef or pork tenderloin at home, then slice thin for a delicious, reduced-sodium protein.
You can avoid sandwich boredom by mixing up some tuna or chicken salad, or flake up a left-over piece of salmon which is high in omega-3 fatty acids and packed with iron. Blend up the salad with a bit of canola-oil-based mayonnaise and Greek yogurt. Add a little diced celery, onion and dill. And once again, pile on your favorite vegetables.
If you’re trying to eliminate bread all together, you can carefully roll your sandwich fillings in a large lettuce leaf. Eliminating bread substantially reduces the calories and carbohydrates which can be replaced by adding a full serving of low glycemic fruit to keep the meal balanced. It’s easier to say “No” to added cheese, the bag of chips and cookies while you enjoy a nutrient-rich, balanced sandwich. Pass on the sugary soda and add a beverage of fresh brewed tea or pure water.
When you tame your sandwich cravings with both high and low glycemic carbohydrates from bread and a variety of vegetables, add quality lean protein, and a little healthy fat, you can enjoy a better balanced sandwich that can help keep you full and energized all afternoon.
Joyce Daoust is a Certified Nutritionist, Balance Bar® spokesperson and national best-selling co-author of THE FORMULA, A Personalized 40-30-30 Weight Loss Program