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Level-Up Your Sandwiches With These Healthy Recipes

According to Smithsonian Magazine, 50% of America eats a sandwich each day. Sandwiches are convenient snacks for outings or meals for a lunch bag. So how can we keep it healthy? The key is to pay attention to the bread, condiments and toppings.

Bread is an essential part of a sandwich and can offer important fueling nutrients. But it is best to avoid breads that contain fillers and sweeteners, like hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. Instead, choose 100% whole grain breads with low fat and high fiber content.

Condiments tend to add up quickly in calories. The average ranch serving contains just under 200 calories and is loaded with saturated fat. Keep dressings and mayonnaise under 2 tablespoons. Here are some healthier condiments:

·       Plain mustard

·       Hummus

·       Salsa

·       Tzatziki

·       Kimchi 

·       Avocado spread

Because of their convenience and price point, deli meats are popular protein choices for sandwiches. But research shows a link between processed meat consumption and colorectal cancer, so it’s best to keep deli meat to a minimum. Here are convenient, healthier protein choices for your sandwich:

·       Roasted chickpeas

·       Sliced boiled eggs

·       Flavored tuna packet

·       Hummus spread

·       Rotisserie chicken

In need of some ideas to make some interesting and flavorful sandwich recipes? We’ve got you covered. 

The Nashville hot chicken sandwich is all the rage, and for good reason – it’s delicious. In this air fryer hot chicken sandwich recipe, air frying the buttermilk-marinated chicken gives it a healthier twist.

Air Fryer Hot Chicken Sandwich, Makes 4

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken tenders
  • 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • Spray oil
  • 4 whole wheat hamburger buns
  • 1/3 cup dill pickles, sliced

For the marinade

  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • ¼ cup pickle brine 
  • 2 Tbsp. hot sauce 
  • 1 egg 

For the hot oil

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper 
  • 1 Tbsp. light brown sugar 
  • 1 tsp. paprika 
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, combine buttermilk, pickle brine, hot sauce, and egg.  Whisk until thoroughly combined. In a Ziploc bag, add chicken and buttermilk mixture. Refrigerate and allow to marinate for 1-4 hours. 
  2. Preheat air fryer to 375 degrees F.
  3. In a flat dish, combine panko and salt. Coat the chicken tenders in the panko breadcrumbs. 
  4. Place chicken in greased air fryer basket and spray with oil. Cook on 375 degrees for 14-16 minutes, flipping and spraying chicken halfway through cooking, until chicken is fully cooked (165 degrees F internal temperature).
  5. Meanwhile, when there are about 5 minutes left on the chicken, make the hot oil. Add olive oil, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat and whisk to combine. Once sauce begins to simmer, remove from heat.
  6. Once chicken tenders are done, remove from air fryer and add to a large bowl. Pour the hot oil over the chicken and toss to combine. Serve on a bun with pickles. Enjoy!

Choosing an alternative to ultra-processed lunch meat for sandwiches and wraps can be challenging. This vegan grilled green goddess wrap fits the bill for a healthy substitute using fiber-rich marinated chickpeas as the protein.

Vegan Grilled Green Goddess Wrap Recipe – Makes 4 Wraps

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1-15 oz. can, drained and rinsed
  • ½ head romaine lettuce
  • 4 whole wheat wrap
  • 4 sprigs green onion, chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Spray oil

Instructions

  1. In a blender, make the dressing: combine basil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic cloves, oregano, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. 
  2. Add drained and rinsed chickpeas to a bowl and pour dressing over it. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes. 
  3. Make the wrap. Lay out a wrap and top with avocado slices. Lightly mash avocado with a fork. Line with two leaves romaine, green onion and top with chickpea mixture. Roll up wrap, tucking in the sides. 
  4. Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat and coat in spray oil. Once hot, add wrap to pan, grill until marks appear then flip and repeat on other side. Enjoy!

Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan based in Detroit. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family. For more health tips and information, visit AHealthierMichigan.org.

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