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How to Build a Healthy Sandwich

You are the builder of your healthy sandwich. The promises of a nutritious sandwich starts by choosing the right bread and fillings. Begin with a base of whole grain bread. Add a healthy source of protein (but not too much of it), loads of crunchy vegetables or fruit and a savoury sauce that’s filled with zip but not sodium. From top to bottom, here are our tips for making your healthy sandwich.

Bread

  • Switch out white bread for a more nutritious whole grain option.
  • Look for bread that lists whole grain as the first ingredient and has at least two grams of fibre per slice.
  • Think beyond bread… Try bagels, buns, pita, tortillas or naan. All come in whole grain versions. Read ingredient lists to be sure and look for “whole grain” as the first words on the ingredient

Protein

Whether you stack your sandwich with meat, cheese, egg salad, it’s important to have a source of protein between the bread.  Below are a few ideas.

Meat

  • Offer a variety of lean meats e.g. roasted beef, pulled pork, grilled turkey or barbecued chicken.
  • Consider deli meats as a once in a while treat only. Read the ingredient list and choose ones that do not include “nitrites.” Use the Nutrition Facts panel to compare and choose deli meat with the lowest sodium and fat content.

Cheese

  • Look at the % Milk Fat (%M.F.) content. Buy reduced fat or lower fat cheeses with less than 20% M.F. To limit sodium, choose fresh instead of processed cheese.

Meat alternatives

  • When mashing egg, salmon or tuna, cut back on full-fat mayonnaise. Use light mayo or low–fat yogurt instead.
  • Try something new! Beans, nuts and seeds make nutritious sandwich fillings. Use edamame or lentils to stuff a pita. Blend chickpeas with garlic and tahini to create a chunky hummus. In addition to peanut butter, offer almond, hazelnut or cashew butter. If allergies are a concern, offer soy nut or sunflower seed butter.

Vegetable and Fruit Toppings

 Build the health value of your sandwich with lots of veggies and fruit. Include at least two veggies or fruit in every sandwich or as a side accompaniment to the sandwich. Vegetables and fruit provide essential vitamins, minerals, fibre, and are low in calories. Beyond lettuce and tomato, these toppings provide a unique twist:

  • Red pepper and cucumber rings
  • Shredded carrots or beets
  • Kale, arugula or baby spinach
  • Grilled zucchini, eggplant, pineapple or peaches
  • Fruit is great on sandwiches too – try mango salsa or sliced apples
  • Fresh herbs like basil, parsley and coriander add a burst of flavour.

Sandwich spreads

  • Skip butter and choose avocado or basil pesto. It is high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and adds rich flavour
  • Low fat mayonnaise, oil-based vinaigrettes and non-hydrogenated margarine also contain healthy fats. Be aware that with any of these options, the calories and fat add up quickly. Use only a little– no more than 1-2 teaspoons per sandwich.
  • Ketchup, salsa and mustard are lower calorie, fat-free options. However they may be high in sodium. Limit your serving size to 1-2 teaspoons per sandwich.
  • Try wasabi (Japanese mustard) or horseradish if you like it hot – they have less sodium than other spreads.

For more information and healthy sandwich recipes please contact us!

Reference: Unlock Food.ca – Expert Guidance, Everyday Eating by Dietitians of Canada (2017)

Leftovers for Lunch

Save time and money by creatively transforming tonight’s dinner into tomorrow’s lunch! Watch our interview and tips on CTV Your Morning.

Dare to Compare: Chia Seeds versus Flax Seeds

Ever wonder what the difference is between these two tiny seeds?

What are they:

chia seeds
[Image source: Flickr]

Chia seeds are tiny white or black seeds that look like poppy seeds. They were first cultivated by the Aztec tribes in Mexico.

flax seed 2
[Image source: Flickr]

Flax seeds are flat, yellow or brown, oval shaped seeds that are about the size of a sesame seed. Brown flax seeds are grown right here in Canada, mainly in the western Prairies.


Nutrition and health benefits:

Chia seeds are filled with insoluble fibre. When mixed with water or fluids, chia seeds expand and swell to form a gel. Chia seeds are a source of heart-healthy plant-based omega-3 fats, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. When it comes to fibre, calcium and selenium, chia seeds win over flax seeds. (See comparison chart below.) Studies show many benefits to including chia seeds as part of a healthy diet, such as a reduction in blood cholesterol levels and the prevention of constipation.

Note: Chia seeds can thin your blood, as well as interact with medications and blood thinners such as Warfarin/Coumadin. If you are taking any types of these medications or any type of blood pressure medications, then please avoid chia seeds and talk to you doctor.

Flax seeds are hailed as a super source of plant-based omega-3 fats which is an important nutrient to help lower the risk of heart disease. With a similar nutrition profile to that of chia seeds, flax seeds are also a source of zinc and selenium, and a good source of magnesium. Flax seeds are one of the best food sources of lignans, which are a type of plant-based estrogen. Research suggests that these lignans may play a role in protecting against breast cancer.

chia vs flax chart BIGGER REV


How to include in a healthy diet:

Both chia seeds and flax seeds have a nutty flavour and can be easily added to your favourite dishes.

Chia seeds – Sprinkle into smoothies, cereal, yogurt, soups and salads. Try our yummy Chia Seed Pudding recipe or mix some chia seeds into muffin batter. Store chia seeds in a dark, cool place for a few months.

Flax seeds – Sprinkle over cereal or yogurt, or add them to pancake batter and meatballs. Whole flax seeds can be stored at room temperature for up to one year. Ground flax seeds are easier to digest. Grind your own flax seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor. Store ground flax seeds in an opaque container for up to three months.

Dietitian’s Tip: Enjoy a variety of foods and include chia seeds and/or flax seeds when you can. Leave us a comment and tell us how you love to use chia and flax!

Our 6-point checklist for spotting the REAL & Healthy Mediterranean-style diet

eggplant 1

May was International Mediterranean Diet Month and the perfect time to explore the secrets of a diet-lifestyle that is connected to many health benefits including increased quality of life and lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. In our work and travels, we found many people were mixed up about what is the REAL Mediterranean-style diet. Fix the mix-up with our 6-point checklist.

Tasty Italian food such as pizza, pasta (which we love to enjoy from time to time as well) is not the real pattern of a healthy Mediterranean-style diet. The healthy Mediterranean diet is the traditional eating pattern of those who live along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. It is a culturally diverse region with over 20 countries including Italy, Greece, Spain, France, and North African countries. This classic Mediterranean-style of eating was one of the three approaches for healthy eating recommended by the latest USDA Dietary Guidelines. Here is our 6-point checklist to recognize a Healthy Mediterranean-style diet that is based on nutrient dense, quality food.

  1. Plant based, using vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes.
  2. Olive oil (which is high in monounsaturated fat) is a key ingredient
  3. Moderate fish / meat consumption
  4. Flavour boost from lemon, garlic, herbs, cheese, yogurt
  5. Wine with meals in low to moderate amounts
  6. Food and meals are enjoyed in the company of family, friends or community

Interested in learning more about the Mediterranean-style diet? Contact us for tips from our culinary travels and recipe collections. For starters try this “Memories of Italy” healthy snack: sliced pears topped with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese chunks and walnuts, drizzled with aged traditional balsamic vinegar (not the popular store variety).

 

Nutrition Month 2016

Nutrition Month buddha bowl 2
(Photo credit: Canadian Lentils)

Celebrate the joy of good nutrition and healthy eating all month and beyond! Be inspired to make small, lasting changes to your eating habits. And try a new recipe every now and then too! Trending in the news was this fabulous recipe for Garden Veggie Buddha Bowl.