Give your go-to midday meal a mindful makeover.
Nothing says lunchtime like a sandwich, but if you’re in a rut with the same bread and fillings, it’s time to get creative. Eating the identical meal day after day means you’re shortchanging your nutritional intake. Your body wants and needs a variety of foods for the full complement of vitamins and minerals. What’s more, keeping your go-to lunch on repeat deprives your taste buds of new and different flavors.
“Too often, we get stuck eating the same sandwich, usually in a rush, which means we’re probably not enjoying that eating experience,” says Beth Dokolasa, a registered dietitian based in Lakewood, Colorado. Use this three-step mix-and-match plan to take your sandwich game to a new, delicious level.
Step 1: Choose better bread
Typical sliced white bread or rolls are not only high in salt and sugar, they have minimal nutritional value. All-whole-grain bread, however, is high in fiber and other key nutrients that will help keep you feeling satisfied to power through the afternoon. You’ll know the bread you’re choosing is a good source of fiber when a quick scan of the nutrition label shows at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. And don’t worry if you’re not a fan of whole-wheat; brown rice, whole oats, whole flax or whole barley deliver different flavors with the same nutritional punch.
Bread isn’t your only sandwich-base option though: Scan your Sodexo café menu and you’ll likely find a number of wraps featuring our signature Mindful Healthy Grains Non-GMO tortillas, which are made with whole grains. Dokolasa also suggests heading over to the salad bar and choosing Bibb lettuce or another leafy green that has some heft to it in lieu of bread. Or try the Mindful Black Bean Lettuce Cups.
Step 2: Pick a smarter spread
Mayo packs about 90 calories and 10 grams of fat per tablespoon, and it’s low in nutritional value. Your best bet? Skip it. There are plenty of other smart spreads loaded with flavor and full of health benefits:
- Hummus gives you a shot of protein and fiber.
- Pesto is made with heart-healthy olive oil and pine nuts, plus fresh herbs for antioxidants.
- Mashed avocado or guacamole delivers heart-smart benefits.
Step 3: Have fun with fillings
Turkey and ham consistently top the sandwich popularity charts for good reason: They’re yummy and pair nicely with other sandwich fixings. But typical deli meats like these are usually high in salt and sugar, and the amount of protein per slice is often overestimated, says Dokolasa. Instead, the following flavorful options will give you more health benefits with every bite:
- Nut butters are high in healthy fats.
- Chickpea salad is a Mediterranean diet twist on a traditional chicken or tuna salad.
- Roasted vegetables are high in fiber.
- Black beans are a good lean protein option.
- Grilled tofu is a tasty way to go meatless once in a while.
- Salmon burgers are high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.