How to Build a Healthy Sandwich

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You are the builder of your healthy sandwich. The promises of a nutritious sandwich starts by choosing the right bread and fillings. Begin with a base of whole grain bread. Add a healthy source of protein (but not too much of it), loads of crunchy vegetables or fruit and a savoury sauce that’s filled with zip but not sodium. From top to bottom, here are our tips for making your healthy sandwich.

Bread

  • Switch out white bread for a more nutritious whole grain option.
  • Look for bread that lists whole grain as the first ingredient and has at least two grams of fibre per slice.
  • Think beyond bread… Try bagels, buns, pita, tortillas or naan. All come in whole grain versions. Read ingredient lists to be sure and look for “whole grain” as the first words on the ingredient

Protein

Whether you stack your sandwich with meat, cheese, egg salad, it’s important to have a source of protein between the bread.  Below are a few ideas.

Meat

  • Offer a variety of lean meats e.g. roasted beef, pulled pork, grilled turkey or barbecued chicken.
  • Consider deli meats as a once in a while treat only. Read the ingredient list and choose ones that do not include “nitrites.” Use the Nutrition Facts panel to compare and choose deli meat with the lowest sodium and fat content.

Cheese

  • Look at the % Milk Fat (%M.F.) content. Buy reduced fat or lower fat cheeses with less than 20% M.F. To limit sodium, choose fresh instead of processed cheese.

Meat alternatives

  • When mashing egg, salmon or tuna, cut back on full-fat mayonnaise. Use light mayo or low–fat yogurt instead.
  • Try something new! Beans, nuts and seeds make nutritious sandwich fillings. Use edamame or lentils to stuff a pita. Blend chickpeas with garlic and tahini to create a chunky hummus. In addition to peanut butter, offer almond, hazelnut or cashew butter. If allergies are a concern, offer soy nut or sunflower seed butter.

Vegetable and Fruit Toppings

 Build the health value of your sandwich with lots of veggies and fruit. Include at least two veggies or fruit in every sandwich or as a side accompaniment to the sandwich. Vegetables and fruit provide essential vitamins, minerals, fibre, and are low in calories. Beyond lettuce and tomato, these toppings provide a unique twist:

  • Red pepper and cucumber rings
  • Shredded carrots or beets
  • Kale, arugula or baby spinach
  • Grilled zucchini, eggplant, pineapple or peaches
  • Fruit is great on sandwiches too – try mango salsa or sliced apples
  • Fresh herbs like basil, parsley and coriander add a burst of flavour.

Sandwich spreads

  • Skip butter and choose avocado or basil pesto. It is high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and adds rich flavour
  • Low fat mayonnaise, oil-based vinaigrettes and non-hydrogenated margarine also contain healthy fats. Be aware that with any of these options, the calories and fat add up quickly. Use only a little– no more than 1-2 teaspoons per sandwich.
  • Ketchup, salsa and mustard are lower calorie, fat-free options. However they may be high in sodium. Limit your serving size to 1-2 teaspoons per sandwich.
  • Try wasabi (Japanese mustard) or horseradish if you like it hot – they have less sodium than other spreads.

For more information and healthy sandwich recipes please contact us!

Reference: Unlock Food.ca – Expert Guidance, Everyday Eating by Dietitians of Canada (2017)

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