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Lunch Box Makeovers: Healthy Sandwich Suggestions

Published by , on Oct 8, 2013

lunchA version of this blog post originally appeared in CHoR’s Fall 2013 TidBits Newsletter.Whether they’re packed in a school lunch box, bagged for a picnic or wrapped up for a road trip, sandwiches are a staple in our family’s lives. We all love the standard PB&J, but it’s important to add some variety as well. Sandwiches offer a great opportunity for kids to try new foods in a familiar form. Don’t be afraid to get creative and let your kids get involved in their own sandwich creations. Ashley Cappel, a registered dietician, shares some unique and nutritious lunch options.Begin with Breads

  • Look for 100% whole wheat, aiming for 3 grams of fiber per slice. This will help hold off hunger pangs until later in the day. Be careful of imposters, such as: honey wheat, multigrain and rye as well as spinach and veggie flavors. They aren’t typically “whole grain” and will have less fiber per serving.
  • Go for whole wheat versions of pitas, wraps, mini bagels, English muffins and flatbreads to make sandwiches more fun. Look for the words “whole wheat” or “whole grain” on the ingredient list rather than “wheat flour” or “enriched.”

Pick a ProteinLow-fat proteins help fill you up and keep you full throughout the day. Protein is also especially important for growing children. Try low-fat deli meat or one of these other healthy protein options:

  • Hummus: Hummus is high protein, high fiber and delicious with almost anything.
  • Nut butters: Try all-natural almond butter. If allergies are a concern, go for soy nut butter instead.
  • Greek yogurt spread: Greek yogurt is high in protein and calcium. For a spread with a kick, try plain Greek yogurt mixed with Sriracha, a spicy sauce found in the Asian food section of your grocery store.
  • Tuna: Choose a Mediterranean style tuna salad rather than mayo based. Mix tuna with olive oil, celery, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  • Tofu: Try sautéed or baked tofu in BBQ or teriyaki sauce for a high-protein, delicious meat alternative for sandwiches.

Spread it OnSpreads can make or break a sandwich in terms of fat or calories, so make a wise choice in how you spread it.

  • Avocado: Replace cheese or mayo with avocado or guacamole for a swap that’s good for your heart. Remember that a little goes a long way.
  • Flavored mustards: Explore the mustard isle. From dill to chipotle, the possibilities are endless.
  • Try some lower fat cheese spreads, such as Laughing Cow cheese wedges or low-fat cream cheeses.

Need Some Inspiration?Try some of the combinations listed below. Remember to be creative. Spread ingredients onto flattened bread, roll up and slice to make sandwich pinwheels or use cookie cutters to cut sandwich pieces into fun shapes. Even better, make sandwich kebabs for a unique lunch treat.

  • Cucumber slices and cream cheese
  • Sliced banana or apple, nut butter, and cinnamon
  • Nut butter, shredded carrots and honey
  • Hummus, cucumber, spinach and feta
  • Turkey, cranberry and avocado
  • Cream cheese or Greek yogurt spread, tomatoes, and alfalfa sprouts
  • Baked tofu “chicken fingers” with BBQ sauce and low-calorie slaw

So next time you are packing a lunch or just making a sandwich for the road, try some of these tips for a creative and nutritious lunch.

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