For many people, a good old sandwich is a lunch staple. Two pieces of your favorite bread loaded up with protein, veggies, and some sort of creamy spread and you have yourself a meal. Whether you brown bag it or stop at the local deli or sandwich shop, it’s an easy, convenient, and delicious option that’s especially great when you’re in a crunch.
That being said, your typical sandwich might not be as healthy for you as you think (or hope) it is. So let’s break it down.
The Bread: Even when you think you’re making a healthier choice by going the whole wheat route, unfortunately the wheat that’s available to us in stores is highly processed, full of sugars and other additives, and contains gluten, which can be hard on your digestive system, cause inflammation, and make you crave more carbs.
I don’t expect you to give up your favorite go-to meal, but you can make it a lot healthier by choosing either gluten free bread (just be aware of the ingredients, because although it’s free of gluten it can still be very processed) or organic sprouted grain bread. Sprouted grain bread, such as this one, is a great option as it’s made up of whole foods- so no weird ingredients, GMOs, or added sugar. Additionally, since the grains have been sprouted, they’re a lot easier to digest. Sprouting also helps increase the absorption of the minerals and nutrients in the grain, because it breaks down enzyme inhibitors. This specific brand is also organic, making the ingredients cleaner and reducing the chemicals and pesticides they’re exposed to. So, if you choose to have bread, do yourself a favor a pick an organic, sprouted grain or gluten-free version.
The spread: For many people, mayonnaise and ketchup are the can’t-live-without condiments to help perk up the taste of a boring sandwich. Unfortunately, these tend to be on the unhealthy side with mayonnaise being full of the bad fat (which causes inflammation in your body)… and ketchup being loaded with sugar (high fructose corn syrup to be specific-which is one of the worsts sugars you can ingest)!
You don’t need to eat the sandwich dry, but choose a spread or condiment that not only is free of the unhealthy junk, but also provides many benefits to your body. Mash up avocado and slather it on a slice of toasted bread or load on some hummus for a creamy and rich twist. And of course mustard is always a great alternative, and don’t forget about the variety of spices sitting in your cabinet (sea salt, pepper, garlic powder). Bottom line- aim for some type of clean healthy fat and fiber. My favorites are avocado, chickpeas/hummus, olive or coconut oil, and ghee.
The bulk: There is a large variety of sandwich combos ranging from your traditional PB & J to a tuna melt to an overstuffed turkey sandwich from the nearby Jewish deli (they always seem to serve you enough for 3 people!). But, what you put in your sandwich is just as important as the bread and the spreads. Some suggestions when choosing:
– Aim for a clean protein such as sliced chicken or turkey breast, dry tuna, hard boiled eggs, or low sodium, nitrate-free (grass-fed if possible) lunch meat.
– Veggies: here’s where you can go to town! Load up all the veggies you want on your sandwich (such as spinach, roasted peppers, mushrooms, grilled zucchini).
** Add for my favorite healthy sandwich tip: swap out the bread completely and make a lettuce wrap. Check out my Collard Greens Breakfast Wrap for some inspiration!
Give your sandwich an upgrade and let me know your favorite combo!