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Lunch on the Go

"Can a sandwich be healthy?"
By: Nicole BautistaLunch on the Go

Using the food groups made by the MyPlate campaign, we can dissect a sandwich to examine the following parts: bread, protein, veggies/fruits, and dairy, plus the tasty sandwich addition—condiments. By considering all these food groups, one can make nutritionally-dense meals on the go!

  1. Bread. It comes in different shapes and sizes and is a source of carbohydrate. Whole grain bread has the highest fiber content. It is best to eat the bread the day it is baked or sold. No need to throw away stale bread; it’s the day-old (or few-days-old) variety that makes the best French toast.
  2. Protein. The “meat” of the sandwich is where protein comes, although it doesn’t have to be meat. It can be fish, beans, or tofu, too. Proteins are tasty, and usually are the highlight of the sandwich. Roast beef, beef burgers, ham, bacon, chicken, eggs, fish, sausages, beans, and tofu all fall under the protein category.
  3. Veggies/fruits. Lettuce is a common leafy addition to sandwiches, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add anything else. Try blanched vegetables, o fresh alfalfa sprouts. Tomatoes and cucumbers are two fruits that are usually added to a sandwich. Some sandwiches can have apple slices or grilled eggplants—and even nuts!
  4. Dairy. Of course, consider the cheese. Sometimes, it only takes a slice of good cheese to add the right oomph to the sandwich. Plus, cheese is a good source of calcium. Hard cheeses, such as blue cheese and cheddar, have higher fat content than soft cheeses like cottage cheese or mozzarella. Cheese is optional. If you feel that it doesn’t belong, you don’t have to put it in.
  5. Condiments. Mayonnaise, butter, mustard, ketchup... do you know that a little condiment goes a long way? You don’t have to slather the bread with mayonnaise to appreciate the taste difference. A thin layer of condiment is a good way to add some flavor without piling on the unnecessary calories.

Here are some ideas for easy-to-make sandwiches. You can stretch your imagination to make your own recipes from these suggestions.

  • Tuna and capers sandwich. 
    1. Make a tuna spread by draining the oil from a can of tuna and mixing the fish with a tablespoon of capers.
    2. Squeeze some kalamansi juice over the mix and it is ready to spread on the slice of bread, preferably crusty bread like a baguette.
    3. Add a lettuce if desired, then top with the upper half of the bread.
    4. Toast and serve.
  • Cottage cheese and ham wrap. 
    1. Julienne some carrots and celery and arrange them on a tortilla bread.
    2. Place a slice of sweet ham on top, and some alfalfa sprouts, if desired.
    3. Top with cottage cheese, then roll the tortilla to make the wrap.
    4. Serve with some homemade fries or potato chips with a yogurt or sour cream dip.
  • Beef burgers with blue cheese. 
    1. Make the burger patty by mixing 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic and 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce in 1 ½ lbs of ground beef.
    2. Add salt and pepper.
    3. Form the meat into five fist-sized balls, and then flatten them into a patty shape, with the center thinner than the sides (so that they cook evenly through).
    4. Cook patties with a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan for 8 minutes, 4 minutes on each side. (The amount of oil in the pan increases as fat seeps out of the patties.)
    5. On the last minute, top the burger with a spoon-sized chunk of blue cheese, then remove from the pan.
    6. Arrange the burger on the bun with lettuce and tomato.
    7. Add some mayonnaise, mustard, or ketchup as desired.

The key to a truly balanced diet, besides proper portioning, is variety. While a homemade chicken sandwich may be healthy, having it every day may, in the end, prove to be not so healthy—simply because it doesn’t give you the variety you need. Be creative with your meals—even the meals for which you feel you have no time. No matter how fast-paced your lifestyle gets, your body will demand the same care and attention from you. If you’re “too busy” to eat well, you’re wise to eat a nutritious sandwich... before your health gives you a knuckle sandwich! 

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