Jena DeMoss: Sandwich swaps — how to level up your lunch

Published 6:34 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Back-to-busy season is here, which means — you guessed it — sandwiches for lunch! Sandwiches are a lunch staple. They’re versatile, portable and a favorite finger food to enjoy. But before you get into a rut of making the same sandwich day-after-day, your Hy-Vee registered dietitian breaks down how to build a better (and not-so-boring) sandwich. With a few simple swaps and crunchy, colorful additions, you’ll level up your lunch in no time!  

5 Tips to building a better sandwich: 

It’s all about the base: Start by swapping white bread with a multigrain or whole-grain base; whole grains contain more fiber than refined, which can help you achieve your daily fiber goals. Daily fiber recommendation is 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women. The average adult eats only 15 grams of fiber per day. Fiber is key to help reduce cholesterol levels and may lower the risk of heart disease. Not a big bread fan? Think beyond sliced bread! Other whole-grain options include wraps, sandwich or bagel thins, pita pockets, tortillas and crackers. 

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Spread on the flavor: Spreads are a great opportunity to add more flavor and healthy fats. Hummus is a dietitian favorite and lower-fat spread made with chickpeas that also contains protein and fiber. Mashed avocado is another creamy option providing heart-healthy fat. Other flavor enhancing favorites include whipped cream cheese, avocado oil mayonnaise, pesto and reduced-sugar jelly.

Pile on protein: Deli meat is always a popular choice. Look for better options at your Hy-Vee delicatessen, such as Di Lusso deli meats. Di Lusso meats are 100% gluten-free and have no artificial colors or fillers. They have several lower-sodium options to choose from as well. Looking to go meatless? Try sliced hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter, cheese or coarsely mashed chickpeas. Canned tuna and salmon are also quick options that provide heart-healthy omega-3s. 

Don’t forget the fruits and veggies: Think fruit doesn’t belong in a sandwich? Think again! Toss chopped grapes into chicken salad or add thinly sliced apples to a ham and cheese sandwich for a surprising burst of flavor and crunch. For veggies, go beyond lettuce and tomato. Some dietitian favorites include: chopped celery or shredded carrots in tuna salad, bell pepper or cucumber slices, or bring the heat with some sliced jalapeños. 

Extra add-ins take your sandwich to the next level: Microgreens add a nutritional punch and delicious flavor in their tiny, sprout form. They are teenage versions of salad greens and vegetables, such as kale, radish and broccoli. Studies show that microgreens contain up to 40 times more nutrients, such as vitamins C, E and beta-carotene, than mature greens. Another favorite is fresh herbs. Basil, parsley or cilantro easily add a pop of freshness and flavor to any sandwich without needing extra sugar or salt!

A well-built sandwich can serve as a complete meal. By including whole grains, protein, fruits and vegetables you can build a nutritious lunch. Keep your lunch interesting by varying ingredients and throwing in a few surprises. These two sandwich combinations below should help you spice up your lunch life and enjoy more elevated eats.

Turkey-Havarti Sandwich 

All you need 

• 2 slices Hy-Vee Bakery whole-grain bread or Sara Lee Healthy Multi-Grain bread

• 1-2 tbsp Hy-Vee red bell pepper hummus

• 3 oz Di Lusso reduced-sodium deli turkey 

• 1 oz Havarti cheese slice

Handful baby spinach leaves or microgreens

All you do 

Spread red bell pepper hummus on bread and top with deli meat, cheese and leafy greens. 

Recipes source: Hy-Vee dietitians