The Humble Sandwich

Bite into a taste and nutrition sensation

The Humble Sandwich

When it comes to lunch meals, few are as sacrosanct as sandwiches. As long as you don’t slap highly processed meats and gooey toppings between two slices of bleached-out bread, the versatile and quick sandwich can be the perfect, balanced lunchtime meal.

With so many winning combinations, why settle for another plain-Jane PB&J or turkey sandwich? Don’t let your sandwich options get stale. When you create one with inspired ingredients that bring a nutritional punch, you’ve got a bona fide power meal in your hands.

Delicious spreads, wholesome breads, nutritionally rich proteins: these gussied-up, satisfying sandwiches pack in more flavour than anything so humble has the right to. Lunchtime never tasted so good. But remember: a great sandwich doesn’t just belong to lunch!

Choose the rainbow

Forget nutritionally lacklustre iceberg lettuce. Aim to stuff your sandwiches with deeply coloured vegetables, including dark, leafy greens, roasted red peppers, shredded carrots, and juicy tomatoes. Also, don’t overlook the sweetness that fresh fruits such as sliced peaches, pears, nectarines, apples, and plums can enliven a sandwich with.

Protein power

Forget the nutritionally corrupt bologna; smarter sandwich protein options include free-range eggs, sardines or salmon, mashed beans, and tofu. Cooking your own organic chicken or turkey breasts and slicing the meat thinly is the perfect alternative to deli meats.

Recipes

Hold the mayo

Skip the squeeze bottle. These easy-to-make spreads can jazz up any sandwich.

Almond Tapenade
In food processor, blend together 1 1/2 cups (350 mL) pitted black olives, 3/4 cup (180 mL) almond flour or finely ground almonds, 3 Tbsp (45 mL) fresh oregano, and 3 chopped garlic cloves. Add 1/3 cup (80 mL) extra-virgin olive oil and juice from 1/2 lemon; process until paste forms.

Guacamole
In bowl, mash 1 ripe avocado with 1 minced garlic clove, juice from 1/2 lime, 1/4 tsp (1 mL) chili pepper flakes, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Herbed Cream Cheese
In small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup (125 mL) cream cheese, 2 Tbsp (30 mL) chopped dill, 2 Tbsp (30 mL) chopped chives, and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) black pepper.

Sweet Potato Hummus
Steam or boil 1 large peeled and cubed sweet potato until very tender. Purée in food processor along with 1/4 cup (60 mL) tahini, 2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp (2 mL) cumin, 1/4 tsp (1 mL) paprika, juice from 1/2 lemon, 1 tsp (5 mL) orange zest, 1 Tbsp (15 mL) maple syrup, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Cilantro Flax Pesto
In food processor, pulse together 1 1/2 cups (350 mL) cilantro, 1/3 cup (80 mL) walnuts, 1/4 cup (60 mL) ground flaxseed, 1/3 cup (80 mL) grated Parmesan cheese, juice from 1/2 lemon, 2 chopped garlic cloves, and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt. With machine running, pour in 1/3 cup (80 mL) extra-virgin olive oil through feed tube until mixture is slightly grainy.

Bread winners

Confused by the dizzying array of breads at the store? The next time you’re in the mood for a sandwich, keep these bread-buying guidelines in mind.

Go for whole
The phrases “multigrain” or “made with whole grains” are pretty meaningless, as the bread often contains wheat flour or enriched flour as the first ingredient. These are just nutritionally inferior white flour in disguise. What does matter is that the first item on the ingredient panel is a whole grain, such as whole wheat or whole rye. A label touting “100% whole grain” cannot include any white flour.

Check for fibre
Suitable sandwich bread should have at least 2 g of fibre per serving. According to a study by the US-based National Cancer Institute, subjects who ate the highest amount of fibre were 22 percent less likely to die from disease than those who ate the lowest amount.

Consider rye
Old-school bread made with whole rye flour is a fibre-powerhouse, containing about 5 g per slice. Be careful when it comes to pumpernickel, as many brands are made mostly with refined flour. Rye bread has been shown to ease constipation faster than laxatives because it’s high in the fibre arabinoxylan.

A better white
If you want to lay your sandwich contents between two slices of white, consider sourdough. University of Guelph researchers found that this ancient bread produces less of a spike in blood sugar than regular white. The fermentation produced by the bacterial culture may alter the structure of the starch to slow down its digestion.

Think beyond the slice
Wraps, pitas, corn tortillas, baguettes, and even large lettuce leaves can all provide a different sandwich experience than the standard sliced bread.

Bread with benefits
Breads made with sprouted grains, seeds, and legumes are stars among their whole grain brethren. Sprouting makes the grain alive and active in its growth process, which amplifies nutrient levels and nutty flavours. Sprouted breads may also be easier to digest for some. They tend to spoil faster, so refrigeration is recommended.

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