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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Making the Perfect Sandwich

Sandwiches can be a quick go-to meal when there's nothing else in the cabinets to fix. They're ideal to pack in lunch bags but can also be the perfect fill-you-up food at a local sandwich shop. Americans are crazy about their sandwiches. But how do we make one of these creations delicious without tightening the waistbands?

  • Ban the big bread. A foot-long bread roll or an over-sized tortilla will easily turn a simple sandwich into a high calorie catastrophe. Choose thin slices of bread, a flat bagel or bun, or even a lettuce wrap instead of all the carbs. This doesn't mean you have to eat tea party size sandwiches. Load up on the "in-betweens:" lean protein and fresh veggies.
  • Lean for lean protein. Bacon, salami, bologna, pepperoni, and meat salads or egg salads loaded with mayonnaise are NOT your lean options. Rather chicken breast, turkey, roast beef and ham are the preferred choices. But what if meat is not your thing? Read on my vegetarian friends.
  • Don't be cheesy. Cheese is yummy; it adds calcium and protein. But it also adds calories, fat, and sodium. If your sandwich is already loaded with leans meats and veggies, consider skipping the cheese. However, for those going for a veggie sub, feel free to cheese it up, but don't be fooled by thinking the vegetarian sub is always the best choice. Too much cheese and high calorie sauces can turn a seemingly healthy sandwich into a high calorie disaster.
  • Load up on veggies. Tomatoes, spinach, onion, bell peppers, etc. There really is no stopping the veggie madness.
  • Careful with the condiments. How can something so small do any harm you ask? Just 2 Tablespoons of mayonnaise will add 188 calories and 20 grams of fat to your sandwich! A "bit" of light mayo is a better option, but a light vinaigrette or red wine vinegar is even better. Mustard or fat-free sauces or dressings can also be decent options.

These tips can help your sandwich-eating be scrumptious and nutritious. However, even when choosing wisely, the sodium count on sandwiches can soar! Deli meat, cheese, bread and some condiments are all sources of sodium. You may have better luck if you take off half the bread, skip the meats, choose Swiss for cheese, which is naturally lower in sodium, load up on veggies, and skip the salty pickles, olives and sauces, but go for red wine vinegar and a dash of dried oregano.


Veggie Stuffed Pita Printable PDF

2 medium onions, sliced

4 medium carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 cups broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

½ teaspoon oregano

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

12 pitas (6" whole wheat)

12 oz. low fat shredded cheddar cheese

Place prepared vegetables into bowl. Heat oil in skillet. In a small bowl, combine oregano, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Add the spices to the heated oil and then add vegetable mixture to the pan. Stir vegetables with a wooden spoon and sauté' about 5 minutes. When the vegetables are slightly tender remove from heat. Spoon vegetable mixture into the pita. Top the hot vegetables in pita with 1 ounce of shredded cheese.

Yield: 12 servings

Nutritional analysis per serving: 250 Calories, 6 grams fat, 470 milligrams sodium, 38 grams total carbohydrate, 6 grams fiber, 14 grams protein


For this recipe and more, check out University of Illinois Extension's, Let's Eat for Health, Illinois! Easy, Family-Friendly Recipes for Any Budget.