Written by: on November 3, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

 

Science of the Sandwich: turn your favorite, triple-decker into a tower of nutritional power!

Here’s how not to build a sandwich: Start with wimpy white bread, smear on the mayo really thick, and then pile on an entire package plus a dozen individually wrapped slices cheese. Instead of a hero, you’ve got yourself a nutritional supervillain. The good news is, it’s simple to recast that sandwich. Here’s how to do it right, whether you want to ensure a nutritional lunch, additional muscle growth or just plain old good health.

THE BREAD

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All great sandwiches start with great bread. The more nubs and nuggets you see–which indicate fiber content–the better. When shopping, select varieties whose ingredient lists start off with “whole-grain wheat” or “whole-wheat flour.” But know that “wheat flour” isn’t the same thing as “whole-wheat flour”–it’s the “whole” part that contributes the fiber. And don’t go just by color; some wheat breads made with refined white flour (wheat flour that’s been stripped of the coarse, fiber-rich kernel) are colored to look tike whole-wheat bread. Kaiser rolls, baguettes, focaccia, and most pitas (except whole-wheat pitas) are considered “white” bread. Even sourdough, rye and pumpernickel are often actually colored and flavored white-flour breads. A good benchmark is a nutritional score of at least two grams of fiber per slice. Whole-wheat breads may have a smidgen of fat, but not enough to worry about.

Smart bread choices include Freihofer’s Stone Ground 100% Whole Wheat, Wonder 100% Whole Wheat, Nature’s Cupboard Natural l0-Grain, Arnold Country Wheat, and Rubschlager Danish Style Pumpernickel.

THE CHEESE

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Most manufacturers of reduced-fat cheese have finally figured out how to make a product that maintains its classic flavor after the calories and fat have been minimized. More good news: Trimming the fat from these cheeses doesn’t keep them from remaining valuable sources of calcium that keep your bones strong and healthy.

Deli counter: Take a number at the deli counter, it’s worth waiting in line for the likes of Yarlsberg Light Swiss and Alpine Lace Swiss.

Prepackaged aisle: In the prepackaged-cheese aisle, check out Sargento Light Deli Style Sliced Provolone and Sargento Light Deli Style Sliced Swiss. Kraft makes a very serviceable fat-free American cheese product called (surprise!) Fat Free Singles. Kraft also makes Fat Free Swiss Singles, but the flavor seems indistinguishable from that of their American slices (the possibility exists, of course made of stone).

MEAT

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With all the lean choices now available, why to heavily processed, high-fat deli meats oozing with nitrites? Roasted and smoked turkey breast, baked ham and lean roast beef are all better picks.

Just make sure to buy actual meat and not meat blends (baked ham versus ham luncheon meat, for example). The first place to go is the deli counter, where a guy in a white smock will actually weigh and cut the fresh chunks of meat for you into any thickness your heart desires.

For great deli-counter meats, try Healthy Choice Honey Maple Ham, Healthy Choice Honey Roasted and Smoked Turkey Breast, Healthy Choice Italian Style Roast Beef, Boarshead Ovengold Turkey, and Boarshead Baked Ham.

If you insist on shopping in the prepackaged-meat aisle, be careful: If it looks like it’s been preserved in hair gel, perhaps it’s a bit too processed. When you buy pure meat (such as turkey breast, ham carved from the bone, and roast beef), you can actually pull the slices apart with the “grain.”

Some tasty and healthy prepackaged-meat options are Healthy Choice Deli Traditions Garlic & Herb Roast Beef, Healthy Choice Deli Traditions Cooked Ham, Healthy Choice Oven Roasted Turkey Breast Variety Pack, Butterball Fat Free Honey Roasted & Smoked Turkey Breast, and Butterball Fat Free Smoked Turkey Breast.

THE VEGETABLES

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Sandwiches give you the perfect opportunity to sneak in a few of those five servings you’re supposed to eat each day. Start with dark-green lettuce (such as romaine or red leaf), and choose vine-ripened tomatoes for the most flavor. Great additions to any sandwich include roasted red peppers (from water-packed jars), bottled sweet and hot peppers, water-packed artichoke hearts, red-onion slices, fresh basil, fresh watercress leaves, fresh baby spinach leaves, shredded carrots, and even cucumber slices for extra water, fiber and bulk, a triad that increases satisfaction without increasing calories. In fact, one whole cup of vegetables has only 50 calories, but can be loaded with vitamins and minerals. Options include:

* 1 cup carrots–19,000 IU of vitamin A

* 1 tomato–138 mg potassium; lycopene

* 1 cup red peppers–282 mg vitamin C

* 1 cup spinach–245 mg calcium

THE SAUCE

If you’re a true mayonnaise lover, there’s no need to go without. Fat-free and reduced-fat varieties of mayonnaise and Miracle Whip can just as creamy and fat-laden as their oily counterparts. Besides the classic French’s yellow mustard, try country-style honey mustard or any of the gourmet varieties now available in most markets.  Fortunately, plenty of healthy and tasty toppings are out there, although some of them can carry hefty amounts of sugar.

Fat-Free Sauces (two tablespoons)

* Salsa-

* Tomato-basil sauce-

* Fat-free Italian salad dressing-

* Black bean sauce-

* Light soy sauce-

* Teriyaki sauce-

* Hickory-smoked barbecue sauce-

QUICK TIP

To add zip to your fat-free mayo, mix in some cayenne pepper.

DODGE THESE BULLETS

Mayonnaise and Miracle Whip: At 11 grams of fat per tablespoon, mayonnaise should come with a prescription for Lipitor. Try fat-free varieties–or mustards, tomato sauces, steak sauces, soy or most Asian sauces.

Full-Fat Cheese: There’s no reason to buy full fat-cheese anymore, not when the reduced-fat selections taste just as good. However, because of their higher water content, fat-free varieties typically don’t melt as well, so keep an eye on the stove to prevent burning.

White Bread: Need we remind you that white bread is lacking in many nutrients? Ease the switch to whole grains by opting for whole-wheat bread before graduating to grainy, multigrain slices.

SUPER SIDES

Mayonnaise-Free Cole Slaw: Combine one cup of prepackaged cole slaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots) and a quarter-cup of ranch dressing.

Tropical Fruit Salad: Combine two cups of mixed fresh fruit (you can use any combination of cubed melon, papaya, mango, pineapple, berries and oranges).

Brown Rice/Black Bean Salad: Toss together one cup of cooked instant brown rice, one-third cup of canned black beans, two chopped green onions and two tablespoons of  Italian salad dressing.

Discover more about National Sandwich Day on ABC News.com or read about the top 31 sandwiches in America

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