Sandwiches are one of the most popular midday choices for lunch and, for some, even dinner. They are quick, delicious, and, if properly portioned, an option for losing weight. But if you aren’t careful, a few ingredients can add hundreds of extra calories and make up more than half your daily limit of artery-clogging saturated fat. So make sure you know what hidden calories are hiding between those bread slices. If you make smart choices you’ll create a delicious and healthy sandwich for yourself.
Start with whole grain bread slices, a pita, an English muffin or a tortilla. Look for the words “whole grain” near the top of the ingredients list, not just “whole wheat.” Good choices have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Some breads are fortified with extra fiber and contain as many as 12 grams of fiber per serving, helping you achieve the recommended 25-30 grams of fiber a day.
Good sandwich fillings include chicken, turkey, ham, lean roast beef, tuna, hummus and reduced fat cheese. Check the sodium levels in prepackaged and deli meats, since most of those products run high. Cut the sodium by slicing meat you have roasted at home or by asking specifically for meats lower in sodium at the deli.
Vegetables add both nutrients and flavor. Tomatoes, fresh greens (the darker, the better), red onion and peppers are all good choices. Roasted red peppers are especially good and it you like things spicy, sliced banana peppers can do that for you.
Condiments don’t need to be high in fat to have a lot of flavor. There are low-fat, healthful choices that will give your sandwich extra flavor, such as:
— Italian vinaigrette
— Light salad dressings
— Greek Yogurt flavored with herbs and lemon
Crispy Chicken Sub
- 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon each sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, divided
- 4 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
- Four 4-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4-inch thick
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 thin whole-grain sandwich buns, toasted
- 2 cups arugula or shredded lettuce
- 1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
- 2 jarred roasted red peppers, drained and sliced
In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, dill and lemon juice. Season with 1/8 teaspoon each salt and black pepper; set aside.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together egg whites, Dijon mustard and remaining 1/8 teaspoon each salt and black pepper; set aside.
Place panko crumbs in a shallow pan. Place flour in a second shallow pan.
Dredge each chicken breast in flour, shaking off excess, then in egg white mixture. Press cutlets gently into the panko crumbs and transfer to a baking tray or plate.
Heat oil in a nonstick skillet on medium-high and saute chicken until golden brown and fully cooked, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate.
To assemble the sandwiches:
Split buns and spread yogurt-lemon mixture evenly onto cut sides of the bread, dividing evenly between the four sandwiches. Layer the bottom half of each bun with 1 chicken cutlet and even amounts of lettuce, cucumber slices and roasted peppers. Cover each with the top half of a the bun.
Smoked Salmon Flatbreads
- 4 ounces reduced fat tub cream cheese spread with added chives and onions
- 4 multigrain flatbreads or pitas
- 1 ½ – 2 cups shredded lettuce
- 6 ounces smoked salmon, sliced into strips
- 4 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
- Ground black pepper
Spread one ounce of cream cheese evenly on one side of each flatbread. Top with shredded lettuce. Add salmon strips, radish slices and capers to each sandwich; sprinkle with pepper. Fold in half and serve.
- 4 whole grain pita breads
- 1/2 cup low-fat milk
- 3/4 pound lean ground beef
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3/4 (6-ounce) cup plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup feta cheese
- 1 small garlic clove , minced
- 1/2 cup grated peeled seedless cucumber
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 cup finely sliced romaine lettuce
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Coat a small baking sheet with cooking spray.
Slice the top third off the pitas. Tear 2 of the tops into small pieces with your fingers and place the pieces in a small bowl; save the remaining 2 pita tops for another use.
Add the milk to the bowl and let the bread soak until very soft, about 15 minutes.
Combine the beef, onion, oregano, cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt in a medium bowl.
With your hands, gently squeeze excess milk from the pita tops; add the bread to the bowl with the meat; discard the milk.
Mix with your hands or a rubber spatula until well combined and form the mixture into 16 balls, each about the size of a ping-pong ball.
Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake, turning the meatballs over halfway through baking, until browned and cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.
Combine the yogurt, feta cheese, garlic, cucumber and lemon juice in a small bowl. Fill each pita with tomato, lettuce and 4 meatballs. Spoon yogurt sauce on top and serve.
Mozzarella and Tomato Panini
- 8 slices whole grain country bread
- Nonstick olive oil cooking spray
- 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 4 slices
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves
- Balsamic vinegar
Coat one side of each bread slice with olive oil cooking spray.
Place bread slices on a work surface, coated sides down.
Arrange tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil on four of the bread slices. Cover with the remaining four bread slices, coated sides up; press together gently.
Preheat a panini grill or heat a large skillet over medium heat.
Add sandwiches to the hot panini grill or skillet; cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown and the cheese is beginning to melt, turning once if using a skillet.
Serve with balsamic vinegar for a dipping sauce.
Mediterranean Sloppy Joes
- 12 oz lean ground lamb or beef
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
- 1 cup canned stewed tomatoes, undrained and cut up
- 2 tablespoons dry red wine
- 1 small bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
- ½ teaspoon dried mint, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
- 3 whole wheat pita bread rounds, cut in half
- Toppings: crumbled feta cheese, cucumber slices and chopped Kalamata olives
In a large skillet cook ground lamb or beef over medium heat until the meat is brown using a wooden spoon to break up the meat as it cooks.
Drain off the fat and place the meat on a paper towel lined plate.
Wipe out the pan and add the olive oil, onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until softened. Add the browned meat, beans, tomatoes, wine, bay leaf, oregano, mint, salt, thyme and marjoram.
Cover and cook on low-heat for 45 minutes. Remove the cover and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.
To serve: spoon the sloppy joe mixture into the pita bread halves and add the toppings.