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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Back to School Nutrition Tips & Recipes ~ The Healthier Sandwich

Back to School Nutrition Tips & Recipes ~ The Healthier Sandwich, Part Two

Let’s continue our conversation about the all-American school lunch box staple – the sandwich.
In the first part of this article, The Healthier Sandwich Part One, I talked about the outside of the sandwich: bread.
Now, let’s take a look at the inside!
Are your kids “meat people” at lunchtime? A great choice then is to use fresh meats and meat that was roasted, baked, braised or slow-cooked… perhaps even left overs from dinner. If your kids love their deli meats, definitely consider upgrading to “clean” meats from free-range or grass-fed livestock that lack the hormones, antibiotics, nitrates/nitrites and other preservatives. Many of these are known carcinogens.
You’ve also got some meat ‘salad’ options like chicken or turkey salad, and tuna salad (although tuna tends to bioaccumulate mercury more than deep, cold water fish, like wild salmon). Opt for homemade mayonnaise or a brand made with real, clean ingredients.
Have you ever tried spreading the bread with mashed avocado? Equally as yum-o-la! Add some sprouts… perfect!
Basic Homemade Mayonnaise:
To make 1 and 1/2 cups…
1 whole egg at room temperature
1 egg yolk at room temperature
1 tsp Dijon or other favorite mustard
1.5 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 – 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (or sunflower oil, if you think the olive oil taste is too strong)
a generous pinch of sea salt
In your food processor or Vitamix, place egg, egg yolk, mustard salt and lemon juice – process until well blended (approx. 30 seconds). Add the oil drop by drop with the motor running. Taste and check seasoning. You might choose to add more salt or lemon juice.
For variations on your mayo, you could add fresh herbs or onions or cayenne pepper… or whatever floats your boat!
The meat loaf sandwich is another fun option for some kids. I’ll post a recipe for “Spicy Meat Loaf” soon.

Don’t feel like you always have to pack meat in the sandwich. You can also use healthy natural nut butters, like almond or cashew butter with naturally sweetened jam, apricot butter or raw honey. Or, skip the sweets altogether and just use something like bananas… like the banana tacos in The Healthy School Days Menu. They’re a hit with our kids… and with me when I’m in a rush to make lunch!
Another idea is to make veggie sandwiches with whatever your kids like – add some homemade cream cheese and, voila! Yummy and a nice change. Raw cheese sandwiches are a good option every so often, too. Spread your healthy bread choice with real butter or your homemade mayonnaise and some raw cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese.
Moving beyond bread, you’ve got even more options to add variety… wraps, roll-ups, pita sandwiches… oh my!
One that might make heads turn in your kids’ classroom is the pita bread falafel sandwich: falafel with tahini sauce and thinly sliced cucumber and tomato.
Don’t forget about all the options for spreads, preferably your healthier homemade versions: guacamole/avocado spread, cream cheese and mayo varieties, and traditional condiments that lack high fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients.
Serve up those sandwiches with fresh veggies and maybe some fruit. Need more? Homemade trail mix, homemade ‘health’ bars and even the occasional homemade cookies are healthier options than packaged, processed lunch foods, snacks and desserts.
Find more ideas in The Healthy School Days Menu!

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