Building a Healthier Sandwich

When John Montague, the 18th-century Earl of Sandwich, slapped two slices of bread around a slab of meat, he probably thought he had reached the peak of dining creativity. After all, he succeeded at being able to eat while playing cards.

If you're willing to pull some wild cards of your own, your sandwiches can be far more imaginative.

Beyond the ordinary

What's between the 50 pounds of bread you eat each year? If you're tired of turkey, bored by bologna, and had it with ham, think about giving some va-va-va-voom to what you put in your child's brown bag. For that matter, while we're revamping lunch, who says you can't serve gorgeous, healthy sandwiches for supper, too?

Instead of putting a slice of tomato on your grilled cheese, grill your tomato with onions, peppers, zucchini, broccoli, and mushrooms, and then add some shredded cheddar cheese. Put it all on a hoagie roll and you have a sandwich that can rival a Philadelphia cheesesteak.

Veggies are the "in thing." You see them topping pizzas and cooking on the backyard grill.

Have a hankering for a meaty-tasting sandwich tuned to grown-up taste buds? Smother a grilled portobello mushroom with sun-dried tomatoes, olives, wilted spinach, roasted red peppers, and a little bit of crumbled feta cheese on a round, crusty roll.

Fruitful alternatives

Enhancing sandwiches doesn't have to begin and end with vegetables. If you always make tuna salad with onions and celery, take a chance and toss in some chopped apples and raisins. Try chicken salad with pineapple chunks, or turkey salad with grated carrots on whole-grain bread.

For the child in your life who sniffs at most vegetables, but loves fruit, add grapes to turkey salad, or top a peanut butter sandwich with sliced banana instead of jelly. Try putting some chopped mandarin orange and minced celery in light whipped cream cheese on raisin bread.

Any way you slice it

Besides what goes into a sandwich is the bread itself. And the biggest thing since sliced bread, which became available commercially in 1930, is the wrap: tortillas and pitas.

Put a chef salad in a pita pocket by chopping a bit of ham, a little turkey, and a bit of Swiss cheese with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and onion. Dribble in some low-fat ranch dressing and eat with gusto.

By now, you can see the pattern developing: Add vegetables or fruit, subtract fat, but above all, make sandwiches that are bright instead of boring.


Bread bits

  • Swiss lake dwellers made the first bread around 6000 B.C.

  • In periods of famine or other calamities throughout history, the governments of the time were quick to protect the people's bread. For instance, during World War I many regulations were passed controlling the bread trade, such as keeping bread fresh for the troops in the trenches, conserving supplies, and stopping waste.