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Nutrition Brown-bagging it this school year? On a student budget? Consider the many options of the modern-day sandwich

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Carol Berg Sloan RD

I really like sandwiches. Peanut butter, turkey and tuna top my list. But sandwiches have changed. My (and a dictionary’s) definition: two or more slices of bread or the like with a layer of meat, fish, cheese, etc. between each pair.
Boring. Go to Subway and choose from five types of bread and cheese, an array of meats (several of which are turkey-based) and a dozen or more toppings and condiments. Our local Vons or Ralphs will also make sandwiches with fancy cheeses (Havarti or horseradish cheddar), press them for you (paninis) or roll them up like burritos (wraps).
Sometimes more choice can lead to more calories, so here are some helpful, healthy hints when you cozy up to the sandwich bar.

Bread Choose whole-wheat when you can. Cheese that is baked in adds extra calories, and white bread is low on fiber.
Meat Most meats (roast beef, turkey and ham) are quite lean these days, so they are your best choice. Italian cold-cut combos (my husband’s favorite) can add up quickly with extra saturated fat as do pastrami or salami. Watch the amount as well. Sometimes I order a veggie sandwich and ask for one or two ounces of meat or half the amount of tuna. Togo’s will give me a price break on this request.
Veggies Pile ’em on, but watch the olives and avocado. Even though they are full of good unsaturated fat, the calories can add up quickly with a quarter of an avocado providing about 100 calories and an ounce of sliced black olives about 50 calories.

Condiments Mustard and vinegar are pretty much calorie-free. Mayonnaise, oil, olive spreads or hummus can put your sandwich over the top with saturated fat, calories and sodium. Ask for “light” if you must have them.
Sides Skip the chips and cookies, and get a low-cal drink or, even better, water.

If you like to make your sandwiches at home, stock up on the items above, and really control your intake. Try this recipe for a delicious, satisfying tuna salad, which is best on crusty artisan whole-wheat rolls or “scooped up” with homemade whole-wheat pita chips.

Scoop-It-Up Tuna Salad
(serves two)

One 6-ounce can solid white or light tuna
in water, drained and flaked
1 small carrot, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons light canola mayonnaise
Salt and pepper

Combine the tuna, carrot, mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl, and mix well. To pack for a school lunch, place the tuna salad in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Pack “scoopers” in separate containers.

200 calories, 9g fat (0.5g saturated, 1.5g omega-3), 530g sodium, 6g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 20g protein, 90% vitamin A

Recipe source: Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD & Liz Weiss, MS, RD of

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Serving Bixby Knolls, California Heights, Los Cerritos, Wrigley and Signal Hill
Nutrition Brown-bagging it this school year? On a student budget? Consider the many options of the modern-day sandwich