It's that time of year again - time to get the kids back to school. And if you're anything like us you'll be grappling with that time-old question of how to do you make your children's school lunch box delicious and nutritious at the same time.
We'll we've got some good news - no need to think too far outside of the (lunch) box, because the humble sandwich can actually be a nutritional powerhouse, just perfect for fuelling your kids through their afternoon lessons. With a couple of careful swaps, this can be a fabulously healthy meal – if you make it correctly. It’s possible to combine the perfect blend of protein, veggies and slow-release wholegrain carbs to make a nutritious and filling meal which is quick to throw together.
Here are the changes you need to make to to up the goodness and take taste levels to new heights!
The humble sandwich can be a fabulously healthy meal – if you make it correctly. It’s possible to combine the perfect blend of protein, veggies and slow-release wholegrain carbs to make a nutritious and filling meal which is quick to throw together or enjoy as a packed lunch or dinner.
Here are the swaps that you could make to up the goodness and take the taste levels to new heights!
Swap: white bread for wholegrain
Not only is white sliced bread pretty boring, it’s also a nutritional wasteland. Packed with fast release carbs which will send you running for the biscuit tin a couple of hours later, switching your bread will not only leave you feeling satisfied, it can also add taste and texture to your sandwich too.
Choosing a wholemeal granary variety will increase the B vitamin, fibre and mineral levels of your sandwich and those malty granary bits will also add texture and flavour too. Likewise, rye and spelt breads which are digested more slowly but also more easily by your body.
“If you hate a soggy sandwich then sourdough is your friend,” Caroline Hartley from The Happy Food Kitchen tells Lumity. “Sourdough is also more digestible than processed packaged bread as the gluten in the flour has been broken down more than usual in the longer, natural rising process.”
Swap: margarine for butter
Years ago, we were encouraged to ditch butter for a low-fat spread style substitute, but now we realise that heavily processed trans-fats are just not good for us. In contrast butter, especially if you chose an organic butter which is made from milk from grass fed cows, not only prevents your sandwich from going soggy but also contains vitamin A, D, E and K as well as manganese, zinc and chromium. The fat is actually helpful as it will allow your body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in the rest of your filling.
Swap: lettuce for spinach
“If you love lettuce in your sandwich just swapping it for spinach will make your sandwich more flavoursome and also bump up its nutritional content,” says Caroline. “The darker the vegetable, the more nutrients you’re going to get, spinach will give you more folic acid and iron than lettuce.” Also try watercress which is very high in vitamin K as well as vitamins C, A and potassium.
Swap: processed meats for roasted meat, fish or eggs
Ham and salami are certainly go-to sandwich fillings for many but it’s best to avoid processed foods where possible and opt for home cooked meats. Fish, prawns and eggs are also great to switch for ham.
Swap: mayonnaise for cream cheese
Yes, mayo is delicious in a sandwich but just one tablespoon can contain a whopping 90 calories with not a huge amount else to add. In contrast a tablespoon of low fat cream cheese contains 30 calories and also calcium, potassium and protein. “If you love tuna mayo make a much healthier version by combining the drained tinned tuna with cream cheese, a squeeze of lemon and some ground black pepper -which is delicious!” suggests Caroline.
Swap: chutney for vegetables or hummus
Chutney brings moisture and flavour to a sandwich, but it’s also high in sugar. If you are looking for a similar kick try using sliced balsamic pickled onions or roasted red peppers. Hummus will give you the moisture of chutney plus a great shot of flavour and it also boasts the nutritional benefits of chickpeas and tahini. “Hummus is a great source of protein to make you feel fuller for longer,” says Caroline.
Condiments like mustard also pack a tasty punch without as much sugar. Adding fresh salad vegetables like radish, grated carrot, tomatoes and even some fresh apple adds flavour and texture as well as a wealth of health benefits, also helping you achieve your five-a-day easily.