Building a Smarter Sandwich

Nutritionists share their favorite ways to build a healthier sammie.

Food Network Kitchen's Collard Wrapped Bean Burritos For Bunless/Breadless Sandwiches As seen on Food Network

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Stephen Johnson, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Sandwiches are a quick and easy way to get a meal on the table or pack it to-go, but that doesn’t mean they’re always healthy. Gobs of mayo, piles of luncheon meat, and oversized slices of bread can sabotage any sandwich. I turned to nutrition experts around the country to get see how they like to build their better-for-you sammies.

Chickpea Salad Sandwich

My favorite “healthier" sandwich is my Chickpea Salad Sandwich. Being a vegetarian, it’s really hard to find a good meat-free sandwich that isn’t just cheese, lettuce and tomato. I’m always envious of people who can open a can of tuna and throw together a tuna salad sandwich, which is why I created this meatless alternative. The recipe is simple—smash some chickpeas in the food processor, mix with some chopped carrots and onion, and add a binder. Instead of mayo, I like to use a mixture of cottage cheese and avocado for protein and healthy fats. It’s a filling lunch that tastes fantastic, keeps me full all afternoon and doesn’t contain any meat! 

Almond Butter Wrap with Blueberry Chia Jam

I love spreading almond butter on a whole grain wrap with homemade blueberry chia jam (literally frozen blueberries defrosted and mixed with chia seeds to make it gel). You're getting filling plant-based protein, healthy fats and fiber from the almond butter as well as antioxidants from the blueberries that promote better memory and overall brain health. 

Collard Wrapped Bean Burritos

I love tucking my favorite sandwich fillings into a fresh or steamed collard green. It's a great way to get a boost of vitamins and minerals while keeping the calories down. Here’s a Collard Wrapped Bean Burrito (pictured above) I like to make which is packed with brown rice, black beans, avocado, cilantro, and Mexican cheese.

Tuna Salad

A go-to sandwich option at my house is tuna salad because I always have a can of tuna on hand! Tuna salad is often high in fat since it’s made with loads of mayonnaise. To help cut saturated fat and save some calories, I swap out the mayo for a mix of plain Greek yogurt and avocado. These two ingredients give the tuna salad a creamy consistency with a boost of healthy monounsaturated fats and protein! I like to top my sandwiches with plenty of fresh veggies like cucumbers, bell peppers, spinach, tomatoes, and maybe more avocado (because it's just SO good!).

Smashed Bean Sandwich

My quick go-to lately has been a smashed bean sandwich. Half a cup of just about any cooked beans (black, pinto, garbanzo, kidney, adzuki) rinsed and drained. Add a dash of salt and pepper, a squeeze of your favorite citrus juice, dash of hot sauce (or seasoning of choice), roughly smash and spread on bread, a pita pocket or a tortilla. Add 1/3 of a sliced avocado, shredded carrots, baby arugula or spinach, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers or radishes (or any other combination of fresh veggies you love)! This makes a healthier version than commercial hummus because it contains less fat and has more protein and fiber. 

Vegan BLT

I make a healthier, vegan BLT by using "tempeh bacon" which is made by marinating tempeh in olive oil, low-sodium soy sauce, maple syrup, liquid smoke, ground cumin and black pepper. I pan fry the slices for a few minutes then place it between two toasted pieces of whole wheat bread along with romaine lettuce, tomato, and fresh avocado! 

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