Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Build a Healthy Sandwich

By Alana Sugar, August 9, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar
Now, I don't know about you, but one of my favorite things to do with delicious whole grain and sprouted grain breads is create an amazing sandwich! The combination of breads, meats, cheeses and condiments has been going on for a very long time, and food historians attribute the creation of what we call a "sandwich" to an English bloke named John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (love the name!). He was a gambler and, as the story goes, while on a gambling spree in 1762, he told his cook to prepare his food so that it would not interfere with his game. The genius cook served him some cooked meat between two pieces of toast - that way he could eat with one hand and gamble with the other. Unfortunately, no one got the name of that very creative cook! With kids heading back to school and the rest of us heading out of our summer vacations and back to work, packing a sandwich for lunch seems like a perfect fit right about now. But remember: a great sandwich doesn't just belong to lunch! It can make a hearty breakfast or a light supper. But, like just about any favorite dish, a sandwich can be really good for you, or not so good at all. Here are some ideas for building a healthy, delicious sandwich. First, choose your bread. Go for whole grain options such as:
  • Whole wheat or spelt tortillas
  • Whole wheat or spelt English muffins
  • Sprouted grain breads
  • Whole wheat baguette
  • Whole wheat, spelt, or sprouted whole grain pita bread
  • Sourdough whole wheat or rye bread
  • Pumpernickel bread
  • Seeded whole grain bread
  • Oatmeal bread
Now, choose your filling:
  • Hummus (there are so many varieties)
  • Baba Ghanouj
  • Bean spreads
  • Marinated baked tofu or tempeh
  • Smoked salmon
  • Shrimp salad made with just a little good quality mayonnaise or vinaigrette dressing
  • Tuna, egg, or chicken salad made with less mayonnaise. Instead, stir in a little hummus or Greek yogurt. Delicious!
  • Nut and seed butters such as tahini, almond, all-natural peanut, cashew, macadamia or sunflower
  • Nitrate-free deli meats such as turkey breast, roast beef or ham
  • Canadian bacon or turkey bacon
  • Sliced cooked chicken or turkey sausages
Next, choose one or more flavorful condiments.
  • Good quality mustard such as Dijon, spicy, German, etc.
  • Good quality mayonnaise made from natural, expeller pressed oils
  • Low fat cream cheese
  • Ricotta or cottage cheese - be sure to season if desired (salt, pepper, herbs, garlic, etc)
  • A smidgen of olive tapenade
  • Caper, garlic slivers and your favorite salad dressing (not too heavy, now!)
And now it's time to pile on the veggies and/or the fruit. Remember, lettuce and tomato are fine but there are many other wonderful options! Here's where you start:
  • Go a bit more exotic and reach for some arugula, baby spinach, watercress and sprouts - pair with cooked veggies such as roasted peppers or Portobello mushrooms, or pair with hummus or cheese
  • Try some sliced cucumbers, radishes, mushrooms and bell peppers with cheese, deli meat, bean spreads and hummus spread
  • Roasted red, green, yellow and orange peppers - try these with olive tapenade, arugula and melted Swiss
  • Sliced apples and pears - delicious with almond butter
  • Sliced strawberries -try them with cream cheese, cottage or ricotta cheese
  • Sliced peaches, plums and nectarines - great with cheese, ham or smoked turkey
  • Pineapple - great with ham!
  • Add some slivered onions, sundried tomatoes and fresh herbs such as basil, cilantro and dill to just about any sandwich.
Like a specific recipe? Here are some: Got a favorite sandwich? I'd love to hear you rave about your fave!




Vanessa Nielsen says ...
Needless to say, I 100% agree with the suggestion to replace fatty mayo with much-healthier Greek yogurt! Vanessa @ Voskos Greek Yogurt
08/09/2010 2:33:54 PM CDT
C.R.Gerard says ...
YMMM!You're incredibly comprehensive-can't wait to give these a try on the family. Thanks
08/11/2010 8:19:44 PM CDT
Rachel says ...
What a wonderful article! When I'm in the mood for a sandwich without all the extra fat and calories, I got for a healthy open-faced tuna melt I crated. I mix the canned tuna with 1 TB olive oil (instead of mayo), a dash of Dijon mustard, dill, salt and pepper. Then, you spread the tuna mixture onto one piece of Ezekiel bread. Sprinkle on some part skim Mozzarella cheese or another low fat variety, pop it in the toaster oven and enjoy! I like to add on a few arugula leaves at the end too! ~Rachel
08/11/2010 8:25:11 PM CDT
Tami Broderick says ...
Another great option for the gluten intolerant folks out there are your brown rice tortillas. Take a tortilla, spread a layer of hummus on it, and then top with sliced turkey, a few slices of avocado, tomato and lettuce. Fold it over, spray with non-stick spray and place it on a hot grill pan for a couple of minutes on each side - the best "sandwich" ever!
08/11/2010 9:34:36 PM CDT
Wendy P says ...
Totally with you on replacing mayo with hummus. Although I do sometimes like a smear of vegenaise :)
08/12/2010 7:36:13 AM CDT
Janine says ...
Sorry this is one of the most preachy, condescending articles I've read lately. Some good ideas and yummy-looking pictures nonetheless!
08/12/2010 9:09:43 AM CDT
Maggie says ...
Whole wheat sprouted bread piled in tuna fish with cheese on top, toasted, warm and gooey from the oven. Absolutely astounding! Throw some yogurt and fresh fruit along side. ;)
08/12/2010 1:08:48 PM CDT
maria cei says ...
I love your recipes.
08/13/2010 11:45:24 AM CDT
camy says ...
I love being able to get these terrific meal ideas that keep nutrition in mind. Wish I had a store in my area!
08/16/2010 1:03:49 AM CDT
Cooking4carnivores says ...
I'm in love with this protein packed egg & avocado Sammie these days - http://www.cooking4carnivores.com/2010/08/ive-had-enough.html
08/17/2010 12:42:59 PM CDT
ENRIQUE says ...
08/17/2010 5:29:31 PM CDT
08/17/2010 5:31:12 PM CDT
Xochitl Scott says ...
I love just a simple avocado sandwich! Whole grain slightly toasted bread, baby spinach, sliced avocados, yummy fresh tomatoes, some sprouts, sliced red onion and jalapeno slices or a good fresh salsa for a spread! The creaminess of the avocado goes great with the freshness of the tomato and a kick when you bite into a jalapeno.
08/20/2010 1:42:03 PM CDT
EatPlayLove says ...
I've been loving having hummus, applegate farms ham, and cheddar on Wasa (just picked up rye wasa today)! Wasa only has 30 calories per crispbread, it's really filling. We also have been over the moon about the Crofter's Superfruit Spread we recently discovered, with almond butter of course.
08/20/2010 1:46:05 PM CDT
p says ...
Yum! I love sandwiches!! :)
08/20/2010 1:46:08 PM CDT
Kathie says ...
Toasted Ezekial bread slathered with Hummus and loaded with fresh vegetables, I could eat those everyday and I'd be a happy girl!!! Love the recipes!
08/20/2010 1:53:23 PM CDT
Frederique says ...
Have you tried this: Choose a bread of your liking, place a layer of any kind of lettuce on the bread, a thick slice of goat's cheese, pour honey over it and top it with walnuts. Yummie!
08/20/2010 2:14:03 PM CDT
Artemis says ...
I don't like cheese so I love spreading avocado with smoked salmon for lunch! Mmm....
06/22/2011 4:54:06 PM CDT
Courtney says ...
Can we add smoked salmon?
08/31/2012 1:08:56 PM CDT
John says ...
Just made this sandwich. It was quite tasty, however I had a severe case of diarhea afterwards...
01/21/2013 1:46:11 PM CST
Rob says ...
How about an order form for sandwiches which I can print and use to collect orders from my coworkers etc...
04/24/2015 1:41:23 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@ROB - Have you checked with your store directly? If your store has a Concierge team they might have a menu for you to special order from.
04/27/2015 2:33:31 PM CDT
Cheryl says ...
i had a sandwich at tho whole foods in Ottawa this weekend and it was made on gluten free bread do you know what brand they use?
05/18/2015 11:35:49 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@CHERYL - I would suggest reaching out to the Ottawa store directly to see what bread they use. It can differ between stores.
05/18/2015 4:33:41 PM CDT