Building a Better Sandwich – Health

Sandwiches have great potential to serve up sound nutrition: complex carbohydrates and fiber in the bread; protein and other nutrients in the filling; and lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber in the vegetable add-ons that boost flavor and crunch. So why waste your time and calories on white bread sandwiches loaded with high-fat bologna cheese and mayonnaise? Here’s a plan for building savory sandwiches.


in place of bland white bread, use whole wheat, rye, pumpernickel or multi-grain varieties. They provide rich flavor and about two grams of fiber per slice, compared to about a half a gram in white bread. Whole wheat pita pockets provide fiber and a pouch for holding wholesome vegetable additions.

Remember, not all breads that are dark in color and have healthy sounding names are high in fiber. Check the label.


In spite of what you may have learned in childhood, you don’t need mayonnaise to hold your sandwich together. A single tablespoon of mayonnaise contains 11 grams of fat, or almost twice the amount in the rest of a lean turkey breast sandwich. Opt for a fat-free or reduced fat version instead, or use naturally low-fat mustard, ketchup, salsa or horseradish for added zing. Cranberry relish can help you enjoy Thanksgiving’s celebrated combination of tart fruit and tender turkey.


Choose fresh, lean chicken or turkey (white meat) instead of fatty, processed lunch meat. If you’re tired of plain poultry, try highly-flavored peppered or herb-roasted turkey breast for a new twist to your lunchtime menu. If you prefer cold cuts, look for brands labeled “low fat,” since these only have three grams of fat or less per two-ounce serving (be sure to limit yourself to a single portion in your sandwich). Even lean roast beef isn’t a bad choice with only 15 percent of its calories coming from fat, compared to the 45 percent found in some hams.


Add crunch, taste and nutrition to your sandwiches with greens and other colorful veggies. Replace iceberg lettuce with mild Boston, romaine, or red-leaf lettuce. You’ll get even more intense flavor and added beta-carotene when you include shredded cabbage, watercress, arugula, escarole, radicchio, spinach or Swiss chard. Grilled or stir-fried vegetables add an exotic flavor; be daring and try pan-sizzled soy-marinated zucchini, mushroom or eggplant slices in a whole wheat pita.

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1 c. non-fat or low-fat plain yogurt

1 tsp grated lime peel

1 can (20 oz) pineapple bits or pineapple chunks

12 oz. turkey tenderloins, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 c. thinly sliced onion

1 tsp. ground cumin

I Tbs. lime juice

1 medium green or red pepper, cut into 1-inch strips (6-inch) whole wheat pita breads.

Cut whole wheat pita breads in half crosswise to make pockets.

Stir yogurt and lime peel together in a small bowl and set aside.

Drain the pineapple and reserve 2 tablespoons of the juice. Combine the reserved pineapple juice, turkey, lime juice and onion over medium-high heat in a large, nonstick skillet for 1 minute, or until the turkey is lightly browned. Add the cumin, pepper strips, and pineapple and cook. 2 to 3 minutes more, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender-crisp and the turkey is no longer pink. Spoon the fajita mixture into the pita pockets and drizzle with the cooking sauce.

Each of the 4 servings contains 395 calories and 5 grams of fat.


Busy cooks love quick breads. They are easy to prepare and their intense flavors are a popular addition to any meal. Many traditional quick bread loaves, however, contain as much as a cup of oil or margarine. Fortunately, there are some great ways to make quick breads lighter that can boost their nutrition without reducing their flavor. While quick breads are easy to prepare and generally bake in under an hour, the “quick” refers to the fact that you need not wait for the dough of these yeast less breads to rise. Originating in the mid-nineteenth century, quick breads are usually leavened with baking soda or a combination of baking soda and baking powder.

The key to making the best quick breads is not to over work the dough or it will become tough.

Before measuring the flour, fork-stir it in order to aerate it a bit.

Then, whisk the flour with the leavening agent(s), salt and any dried herbs or spices in your recipe.

Add any fat or fat substitutes, such as nonfat yogurt or applesauce next. Liquids such as eggs, milk and vanilla should be beaten in a separate bowl, and then combined with the flour mixture using a few swift strokes.

Spread the dough evenly into a loaf pan. Add texture and flavor to quick breads with crunchy chopped nuts. Make sure to use them sparingly, however, since they are high in fat. Dried fruits provide flavor, as well as fiber, when added to bread batters.

Avoid the temptation to cut large slices when serving quick breads, since calories still count even when the fat has been reduced. Low-fat quick breads have a slightly dry texture that will tempt you to serve them with a creamy spread like margarine or butter. You can add moisture and flavor without fat, by topping your bread with jam, fruit butters or preserves.

For a richer-tasting, low-fat spread combine 1 cup of low-fat or fat-free cream cheese with 2 tablespoons each of finely-shredded carrots and radishes, 1 tablespoon chopped green onions, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1 small, mashed garlic clove.

Cinnamon Carrot Bread has a spicy-sweet flavor and a good supply of nutrients that makes it a special breakfast treat or afternoon snack.

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1 cup raisins

3/4 cup all-purpose flour 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. each baking soda and baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg

3 Tbs. vegetable oil

3/4 cup low-fat yogurt 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup finely shredded carrots topping

1 Tbs. rolled oats

1 Tbs. oat bran

Pour boiling water over the raisins and let them stand for 5 minutes; drain thoroughly.

Meanwhile, combine the all-purpose and whole wheat flours, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, salt and raisins; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg until fluffy: beat in the oil. Mix in the yogurt, sugar and vanilla; stir in the carrot. Add the flour mixture and stir until it is well combined. Pour the batter into a greased or wax paper-lined 8 x 4 inch loaf pan.

Topping: Combine rolled oats and oat bran; sprinkle over the batter.

Bake in a 350° F oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let the bread stand for 5 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and let cool before slicing.

Each of the 13 slices contains 166 calories and 4 grams of fat.

Reviewed by Melanie Polk, M.M.Sc., R.D., L.D., F.A.D.A.,

Director of Nutrition Education,

American Institute for Cancer Research.

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