Build a Better Sandwich

August 4, 2013
Jonnell, Registered Dietitian

Jonnell, Registered Dietitian

It’s back to school time and whether you are heading off to college or your children are headed off to school you may be contemplating packing lunches again.  While there is no rule that a sandwich should be included in a brown bag lunch they are popular with good reason:  they are portable, easy to eat (no fork needed!) and can be adjusted to most people’s preferences.   If a sandwich is the main component of the lunch you are packing, it is a good idea to make sure the sandwich is a healthy choice.

Choosing a bread or wrap that is 100% whole grain is the best option and preferably one that is not too high in sodium.  150 milligrams of sodium or less per slice of bread or 300 milligrams of sodium for a wrap, English muffin or bun is reasonable (this still allows for some sodium in the filling or side).  Additionally, some wraps and tortillas contain hydrogenated oil which should be avoided.  Some breads that meet these criteria include Harmons Artisan Multigrain Bread, Dave’s Killer Bread 21 Whole Grains, Prairie Grain Spelt Bread, and Bubba’s Skinny Whole Wheat Bagel.

Deli meat can be high in sodium (and may contain nitrites or nitrates).  If you are choosing a deli meat look for one with no more than 350 milligrams of sodium per serving (this is usually 2 ounces) and with no nitrites or nitrates.  Boar’s Head has several including 47% Lower Sodium Oven Roasted Turkey Breast, Cajun Style Seasoned-Cap-Off Top Round, Applegate Organics has a roast beef or if you are going the vegetarian route for your sandwich Lightlife Smart Deli Roast Turkey Style or Yves Meatless Deli Turkey Slices are lower in sodium.  Eggs, peanut butter or hummus also make great meatless alternatives.

Vegetables and Fruit
Add some vegetables to the sandwich; in addition to the traditional lettuce and tomato, some great choices include grated carrot, sliced cucumber, sliced bell peppers, spinach leaves, and cabbage in the form of coleslaw (this adds a nice crunch).  Or add fruit for a tasty twist; bananas pair well with peanut butter.

Avocado, peanut butter and pesto add great flavor and healthy fat to a sandwich.  If you’d like cheese, a low-fat cheese would be a better choice.

If you’d like some ideas check out the sandwich suggestions box below.  To make a complete meal keep MyPlate in mind and add some fruit, vegetables and/or dairy to your sandwich.