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10 Healthy Sandwich Dos and Don’ts
A healthy sandwich is such a versatile food. It can qualify as a hearty breakfast or lunch, a mid-morning or evening snack, or even a travel snack, depending on how you make it.
Healthy sandwiches are a one-stop shop for all your nutrition requirements in one go. Think about it – you’ve got your carbohydrates, vegetables, protein, a little fat, and maybe even some dairy!
Of course, a sandwich is only healthy and wholesome if you use fresh, nutritious ingredients and don’t load it with processes junk food. This article lists out 10 dos and don’ts to make your sandwich a veritable treasure trove of nourishment.
Dos and Don’ts with Carbohydrates
Do choose healthier bread for the base. Instead of choosing white bread and other refined flour for the sandwich foundation, opt for whole-grain, high-fiber bread.
These are more complex carbohydrates that keep blood sugar levels stable as opposed to simple carbohydrates like white bread that can spike blood glucose quickly.
High-fiber options like rye bread, oat, and flax bread have a low glycaemic index and promote digestive function. Options like sourdough bread are also great as they have a low phytate content - phytates inhibit the absorption of minerals.
Dos and Don’ts with Fillings
We have described here what we must do with fillings.
Fruits and Vegetables
Do load your sandwich with tons of fresh vegetables or fruits. You don’t have to go the conventional route and stick to plain old lettuce or boring cucumbers.
Juicy tomatoes, creamy avocadoes, spring onions, fennel, carrots, beetroots, popping peas, and vibrant bell peppers are some unconventional options.
Try fresh greens like arugula, chickpeas, cauliflower, eggplants, red onion, cabbage, and the ever-so-underrated sprouts. You can use fresh vegetables or roast/grill them with a little added spice like salt, pepper, and paprika to give your sandwich a zing.
You can even make sandwiches with your choice of fruits. Slices of apple, banana, watermelon, pears, cantaloupe, pineapples, and even strawberries or raspberries. You can dab on a bit of jam and nut butter to give it a PB&J feel, except it’s fresh and healthier!
Not only do vegetables and fruits provide an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients, they make your sandwiches colorful and appealing to the eyes which is equally important.
To ensure your sandwiches don’t get soggy, pack the bread and the fillings separately and assemble them only when you are ready for lunch.
You can also try open-face sandwiches with pita bread or sourdough, tortilla wraps/rolls with shrimp/prawns, veggies, and an olive oil and lemon vinaigrette. You can even skip the bread altogether by making lettuce wraps!
For your protein fix, choose lean cuts of meat. These could include roast turkey slices, grilled chicken, lean beef roasts, lean steak, canned tuna, or fresh or lightly smoked tuna. You can also go for salmon roast or grilled, trout, hard-boiled, or sunny-side-up eggs.
Vegetarians can use nut butter, grilled tofu or paneer, mushrooms, mashed beans, tempeh, lentils, and edamame.
Don’t choose cold cuts i.e., charcuterie meats and processed meats. Luncheon meats include pre-packaged meatloaf, sausages, salami, pastrami, prosciutto ham, and corned beef, to name a few.
These are very high in sodium and saturated fats that can cause hypertension, and lifestyle illnesses like obesity, cancer, diabetes, and cardiac illnesses.
Dos and Don’ts with Seasonings
Do choose skinny dressings and seasonings. Unbeknownst to you, a ton of calories from a sandwich and salad come from heavy, creamy dressings or spreads like mayonnaise, ranch dressing, barbeque sauce, and the like.
So, opt for low-calorie spreads that don't pack on the pounds. These include mustard – both whole grain Dijon and yellow or honey mustards, vinaigrette, Greek yogurt spreads which also have protein, and tzatziki which are all fresh and herbaceous.
Tzatziki in particular can be a very different flavor on your sandwiches- it is made of light or diluted yogurt with cucumber, garlic, olive oil, and herbs like dill, along with an acidic component like vinegar or lemon juice, and can be a versatile addition to your sandwiches.
You can also try low-fat mayonnaise and low-sugar barbecue sauce if you're stuck on the flavor, and don’t like to experiment. Make a hummus spread out of chickpeas or cauliflower. Use olives, pesto, coleslaw, raisins, roasted tomatoes, or peppers to add some zest and flavor naturally.
Don’t use too much fatty cheese like American or cheddar cheese. Instead try low-fat cheeses which are also more flavourful like ricotta, Asiago, blue cheese, parmesan or goat’s cheese crumbled on top.
Even when you are using the healthier cheese varieties, make sure you measure out the portions. It's very easy to overdo the cheese for flavor and then end up with way too much fat in your sandwich.
Dos and Don’ts with Portion Size and Preparation
It's important to moderate portion sizes and has a small or medium sandwich depending on how hungry you are and for what meal you are having the sandwich. Having a foot-long sub will be very high in calories irrespective of the healthy ingredients you use.
Try minimizing the amount of bread you use, and instead filling up on vegetables and protein. For example, if you are using pita pockets, scrape out the excess bread on the inside to make more room for nutritious fillings rather than empty carbohydrates.
Plus, all your sandwiches are better if they are fresh and homemade, rather than pre-packaged. Pre-packaged sandwiches can have stale ingredients, less nutrition, and use unhealthier fillings. Sacrifice a half hour in the morning to make a healthy sandwich to keep yourself hale and hearty in the long run.
It is always better to lightly heat or bake your bread to make it crispy rather than grilling it, as frilling involves the use of a considerable amount of oils/ butter, defeating the purpose of a clean sandwich. We know those paninis are delicious, but try to go for a toasted sandwich instead!
Now that we've shared all the tips and tricks to make a healthy sandwich, we hope you won't take the easy way out and visit your nearest deli for your sandwich fix!
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