Healthy Sandwich Tips for the College Student

I feel I speak for many college students when I say that one of my favorite foods is a delicious sandwich. Sandwiches are quick and easy and can be eaten at any meal or time of day. When prepared properly it can be nutritious and tasty, piled high with ingredients to power you through the busy day. Here are a few tips on how to get the most nutritional value out of your daily sandwich.

Tip #1: Load your sandwich with veggies. Especially: green, red, and yellow peppers, banana peppers, tomatoes, spinach, cucumber slices, onions, zucchini, squash and carrots. These veggies pack crucial nutrients and disease fighting antioxidants in every bite, plus they add an extra dimension to your sandwich by giving it a tasty crunch. If you really want to step out of the box, try adding fruits to your sandwich. Some of my favorites include watermelon, pears, and apples. Veggies and fruits are a great way to spice up your sandwich’s taste withoutadding extra calories or unnecessary fats.

Tip #2: I personally hate mayonnaise, but after living with my dad I know that not everyone feels the same (he puts a sickly amount of mayonnaise on top of bread just as a snack…cringe worthy). There are better and tastier options out there people! Try topping your sandwich with avocado slices for a creamy texture that provides necessary heart healthy monounsaturated fat instead of artery clogging saturated fat. Other condiment choicesinclude mustard, hummus, and salsa. Hummus and salsa are great sources of nutrients. Hummus provides lots of vitamins and minerals such as manganese, copper, calcium and zinc (but is relatively high in calories—for our calorie cautious readers) and salsa provides carotenoids such as lycopene. Lycopene has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and protectagainst harsh UV rays from the sun.

Tip #3: Swapping your sandwich bread to 100% whole grain, whole wheat is probably the most important advice I can provide to our readers. Whole grain bread is such an easy swap to make, even if you’re accustomed to another type of bread. It is much more nutritious and satiating than white bread and in my opinion a whole lot more tasty. Buying bread with the ‘100% whole grain’ label ensures consumers that the bran and germ of the wheat has not been removed during the processing of the bread. This means that you are getting an excellent dietary source of fiber, manganese, calcium, copper, iron, all your b-vitamins and many other vitamins and minerals. If you eat white bread you are losing 60% of these nutritious components through the processing process!

Tip #4: Avoid pre-packaged cold cuts as much as possible. Cold cuts are loaded with fat, sodium, and preservatives. Some leaner, more nutritious options include fresh slices of cooked chicken, turkey, and seafood. If you are a tuna lover make sure that the tuna is packed in water and not oil!

Tip #5: Sadly, cheese is one of my favorite foods and also one of the unhealthiest sandwich toppings. When I MUST satisfy my craving for cheese I stick with low-fat swiss or provolone cheese. I love cheddar cheese, however, it is the highest in fat so I try to avoid it most of the time. Some tasty cheese alternatives include hummus, salsa, and tomato paste.

Tip #6: Try to avoid the grilled Panini. Panini’s may not seem like that bad of a choice but unfortunately they are calorie packed with little nutrient value (depending on what is inside the Panini). Panini’s are prepared in oils and butter to get that beloved crusty texture. They are also normally processed and the bread has little to no nutrient value (along with all the extra calories from the oil). Sorry Top Dog Panini lovers!

Tip #7: The easiest way to add extra nutritional value and flavor to your sandwich…. add herbs! Herbs can easily be chopped and added to the top of any sandwich masterpiece! Basil, parsley, cilantro and oregano are great choices. These herbs can be stored in a glass with about an inch of water right on your kitchen counter. Trim the ends and replace the water each day. Your herbs will last about a week! Other herbs, like chives, thyme and rosemary should be snipped at the ends, placed in a inch of water in a cup, covered loosely with a plastic bag and placed on the top shelf of your refrigerator.

So now that I have offered some suggestions on how to give your sandwich a nutritional punch here is a few of my favorite sandwich go-to’s. Enjoy!

  • I am a ravenous animal in the morning and I like to eat a large breakfast (my friends can vouch for the amount of food I consume before 9 am). One of my favorite breakfasts includes an egg white (or organic brown egg), veggie omelet filled with peppers, onions, spinach, mushrooms, zucchini, and squash. I lightly cook the veggies in a teaspoon of organic olive oil. I then place the veggies to the side and cook the egg whites. When the egg whites are half way cooked I pour the veggies on top. While this process is going on I toast two pieces of whole-grain toast. The end result is a whole-grain veggie omelet sandwich with honey mustard to add a little extra kick.
  • One of my favorite afternoon snacks includes a medium whole-grain tortilla, 2 tablespoons of hummus, 2 slices of tomatoes and 4 slices of cucumbers. This snack gives me an energy boost that helps me stay awake during my afternoon classes.
  • After a work out my go-to snack is a piece of whole-wheat toast topped with organic peanut butter and sliced strawberries. It is super delicious and the perfect combination of carbohydrate and protein to properly refuel after an intense sweat session.

Happy Turkey Month!

My dad’s permission to insult his eating habits

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