"Grabbing a bite" is the phrase I hear most when people talk about eating at midday, and I'm certainly part of that mainstream. At lunchtime, I usually go for something I can hold in my hand, most often a sandwich, wrap, or a stuffed pita pocket.
A lunch I can hold and eat with my hands indulges my inner child, which is usually clamoring to get out after a morning of dealing with grown-up business. Whenever the weather permits, my lunch becomes an outdoor picnic amidst trees, sunshine and fresh air, which seems so much healthier than eating indoors.
Health reports regularly tell us how eating a variety of foods - especially plant-based foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans - can help keep us in good health. The sandwich is one of the easiest ways to do that, simply by including a wide variety of foods in one efficient, good-tasting meal.
For the outside, just think whole grain. You will not find an easier way to have two of the recommended daily servings than in a sandwich. Read the bread or sandwich label to make sure you are getting whole grain, which includes the bran and the germ. Two slices of most whole-grain breads also contain at least 4 grams of protein, as do many wraps made with whole grains. There are enough varieties now, including rye, spelt and oatmeal, to eat them a few times a week without getting bored.
For the inside, think variety. As health experts like the American Institute for Cancer Research point out, the interaction between plant-based foods produces health benefits beyond those of each individual food. Start with a calcium-rich but low-fat dairy spread, or a bean spread like hummus, to line the whole-grain bread. Then think about what goes between the bread and the filling.
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Instead of the usual iceberg lettuce, which is nutrient-poor, use a generous handful of baby spinach leaves or another dark leafy green. (The dark green color indicates greater nutrition and other health benefits.) A layer of fruit will add extra flavor and texture. Try something tangy - like a tomato - crisp - like an apple or pear - or succulent, like nectarine or mango. These add-ons will add extra nutritional punch to your sandwich along with extra flavor and texture, plus the health protection of the phytochemicals found mainly in plant-based foods.
This sandwich should inspire other ideas to power-boost your favorite stand-bys.
Turkey, Spinach and Apple Wrap
Makes two wraps, or 2 servings.
- 1 Tbsp. reduced-fat mayonnaise
- 2 tsp. honey mustard
- 2 whole-wheat lavash wraps or flour tortillas
- 2 cups (washed and dried) baby spinach leaves, loosely packed, or two large leave sof a soft leafy green lettuce
- 4 thin slices turkey breast (4 ounces)
- 1/4 Granny Smith apple, sliced paper-thin
- Combine mayonnaise and mustard. Lay out both wraps. Spread the edges of each with the mayonnaise mixture. Leaving a margin free on the side closest to you, arrange a layer of greens on top of wraps. Top each layer with half the turkey. Evenly divide apple slices and lay lengthwise across turkey. Fold over the end of the wrap closest to you, then the two sides. Roll the wrap as tightly as possible toward the opposite side. Cover each wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate, seam side down, up to 4 hours before serving. When ready to serve, remove plastic wrap and cut each wrap in half, at an angle.
Nutritional Information Per Serving:
7 g. total fat (1 g. saturated fat),
27 g. carbohydrate,
20 g. protein,
3 g. dietary fiber,
294 mg. sodium.
Diabetic Exchanges: 1 Bread/Starch, 2 Vegetable, 1 Fruit, 1-1/2 Fat