Stack a Healthy Sandwich

By Jamie Vallone, RD, CDN

November 3rd was National Sandwich Day. What better way to celebrate than by brown-bagging your lunch this week and bringing a sandwich to work? It’s important to be mindful of how you build your sandwich to ensure you are balancing the right nutrients.

Here are some tips:

Bread: The foundation of any good sandwich, it’s important to choose the right bread. Look for key words like whole grain and whole wheat for your bread of choice as these will be higher in fiber and protein. Romaine lettuce can be used in place of bread as a lower carbohydrate option.

Protein: Freshly prepared meats are an ideal choice because deli meat is high in sodium. If you are not able to use freshly prepared meats, buy deli meats that are lower in sodium and limit the portion size to two ounces. Choose lean meats like turkey, chicken, and lean roast beef. Other sources of protein you can use include peanut butter, eggs, tuna, and low fat cheese.

Veggies: Be generous and creative with veggies. Using spinach in place of iceberg lettuce can increase your vitamin A and fiber intake for the day. Peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions are all tasty additions to sandwiches.

Condiments: Using reduced-fat or olive oil mayo in place of regular mayonnaise can cut down on fat. Mustard is lower in calories than mayonnaise. Light dressings make a good condiment as well. Cooking spray can be used in place of butter when grilling sandwiches.

Here are a few examples of how you can make a typical sandwich healthier:

Before: Peanut butter and jelly on white bread.

After: Peanut butter with sliced strawberries or grapes on two slices of whole wheat bread.


Before: Grilled cheese pan-fried in butter.

After: Grilled cheese with low-fat cheese and tomato, cooked with cooking spray.


Before: Deli turkey with lettuce and mayo on white bread.

After: Fresh roasted turkey or lower sodium deli turkey with reduced-fat or olive oil mayo, tomatoes and peppers wrapped in romaine lettuce.

Now that you’ve made a healthier sandwich, don’t forget to pair it with a healthy side! Fruit, vegetables and dip, Greek yogurt, and baked snack foods are all good choices.