But nowadays, sandwiches have become an art form, as well as a nutritional minefield. Here are some clues to help you make the right sandwich decisions:
IT’S ALL IN THE BREAD
If you talk to most sandwich makers (I used to make sandwiches for a living), you know that the bread is the key to a sandwich’s success. And even with the popularity of the Atkins diet these days, bread lovers are still eating their sandwiches, albeit clandestinely. Remember, all breads are not created equal. For instance, a 6-inch Italian (White) Bread from Subway has 200 calories, whereas 2 slices of Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread have only 100 calories.
Choose leaner cold cuts like turkey, chicken, roast beef, and ham. On average, these contain no more than 110 calories and 5g fat for a 2-ounce serving.
AVOID THE FAT
Avoid higher fat meats like bacon, bologna, salami, pimiento loaf, and sausage. Steer clear of anything called “Monte Cristo.” While this description varies from restaurant to restaurant, it typically has cheese and is dipped in egg and fried in butter.
And what about the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich? It’s the peanut butter you’ve got to watch carefully. Just 1 tablespoon contains 95 calories, 8g fat, and 3g carbs.
CUT THE CHEESE
Cheese is a great source of calcium and protein, but it’s also a source of excess calories and fat — primarily saturated fat. One ounce of regular cheese usually contains about 100 calories and 8 grams of fat, of which 5 grams are saturated. Delis typically add 3 to 5 slices of cheese per sandwich, which sends the calorie and fat content of your sandwich skyrocketing.
DON’T JOIN THE CLUB
Rumored to have come from the large sandwiches served at country clubs, the club sandwich generally contains three slices of toasted bread layered with bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and some type of meat. With the exception of Subway’s club sandwich, these trimmings don’t typically add up to a trim waistline.
LEAVE REUBEN HOME
Although this sandwich on rye is grilled, the high fat meats, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing put the calories over the top.
VEGETABLE AND SALAD SANDWICHES
Vegetables add flavor, crunch, nutrients and fiber to sandwiches. Besides the traditional lettuce and tomato, try these favorites: red onion, bell peppers, roasted red peppers, spicy jalapeno peppers, carrots, celery, spinach, arugula, cucumber, zucchini, yellow, squash, eggplant, etc. But watch out for the extras added to veggie sandwiches — specifically cheese, salad dressings and mayo. Again, Subway has a low calorie version, but take a look at the high calories in some of the others:
Also, skip salads mixed with mayo such as tuna, chicken or egg salads — unless they’re made using light or fat-free mayonnaise. The fat and calories in the mayo can turn a relatively healthy food into a dieter’s nightmare.
As you’ve been told time and again, mayonnaise, oil, and full-fat dressings add unwanted calories and fat to your sandwiches. To get that creamy texture for less fat, try a slice of avocado (about 1/8 of an avocado) for only 45 calories, 5g fat, and 2g carbs. Other relatively innocuous add-ons include: mustard, ketchup, BBQ sauce, horseradish (not horseradish sauce), salsa, and balsamic vinegar. Fat-free mayonnaise comes in exciting flavors like wasabi or chipotle that make you forget you’re missing the fat. Try light or fat-free salad dressings, cocktail sauce, teriyaki sauce, or low-fat honey mustard.