Are you (or someone you know) on the hunt for delicious and nutritious meal ideas? We all know that healthy eating is a very important factor in maintaining our overall wellness, but it’s also important to choose a lifestyle that is sustainable. That is where a well-balanced diet filled with healthy (and enjoyable) foods comes in!
Grains are often regarded as the villain when it comes to diet trends, but we’re here to remind you that bread and rolls are an important ingredient to a balanced diet. Grain foods, such as whole grain and enriched grain breads, provide numerous benefits including important nutrients that are essential to our diet.
Why not start to view bread as a friend? Many times, it is the accompaniments to bread (e.g., fattening spreads) that contribute most of the calories, while offering little additional benefits.
In this blog, you’ll learn how to include bread—in the form of sandwiches—as an important part of the American diet. First, you’ll hear from experts at the Grain Foods Foundation about how to build a nutrient-filled sandwich using bread. Then, you’ll find some great ways to put this knowledge into action with some featured recipes from Martin’s!
Building a Better Sandwich
By: Grain Foods Foundation
Sandwiches continue to be a staple in the American diet and well-liked by children and adults alike. Sixty-one percent of people eat a sandwich at least twice a week at home1 and enjoy the option to build and customize their sandwich with their favorite ingredients, including bread. Yet many people give up bread thinking it contributes to excess calories. In a recent study, researchers found that all grain foods, including bread, contributed less than 15% of all calories in the total diet, while delivering nutrients that are in short supply in the diet of many Americans including fiber, calcium, magnesium, and vitamins.2
In this study, researchers sought to model a better sandwich. They wanted to know how children and adolescents could enjoy healthy, nutrient-packed sandwiches by making smart choices in fillings. By studying data from over 9,000 sandwich-eaters in a national survey, What We Eat in America, researchers took a statistical modeling approach and removed all the energy (calories) and nutrients from the usual sandwiches and substituted four different sandwiches:
- 2 slices of whole grain bread, 2-3 slices of lunch meat, 1 slice of cheese with a few leaves of dark greens and a slice of tomato
- 2 slices of whole grain bread with 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter and 1 Tablespoon of jam
- Or the same combinations substituting refined, enriched grain bread for the whole grain bread.
The study also showed that using either whole grain or enriched refined grains led to reducing calories while increasing nutrients, such as the B-vitamin folate and the minerals iron, calcium, and magnesium. These nutrients are needed by children and adolescents to support bone health and make new red blood cells.
The bottom line…know your stuff before you cut carbs from your diet. When looking to make a healthier sandwich, it’s the ingredients between the slices of bread that should be the focus. With so many delicious breads to select from, choose your favorite, modify the sandwich portions and be mindful of the fillings, but keep the best part…the bread!
Americans can significantly and positively impact their consumption of calories, fat, and sodium by making more deliberate decisions about sandwich ingredients. By building a better sandwich on either whole grain or enriched grain bread, American children and adolescents can take in fewer calories, fat, and sodium than they typically consume in sandwiches now.
Sample better (model) sandwiches include:
- 2 slices of whole grain OR enriched bread, 2 to 3 slices of lunch meat, 1 slice of cheese, a few spinach or lettuce leaves, a slice of tomato.
- 2 slices of whole grain OR enriched bread, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, 1 tablespoon of jam.
About Grain Foods Foundation
Formed in 2004, Grain Foods Foundation (GFF) is a group of thought leaders and advocates for ALL grain foods and believes everybody needs grain food to enjoy a happy and healthy life. Committed to nutrition education programming that is firmly rooted in science, GFF is a strong advocate for our members and a resource for consumers and the media who want to learn more about the role of grains in a well-balanced eating pattern. GFF offers research-based information and resources to members, partners, influencers, policymakers, and consumers through a comprehensive communications campaign, conferences, webinars, research tools, social media, and more. GFF is committed to bringing fact-based information and common sense to the consumer. For more information, visit grainfoodsfoundation.org.
1 Datassential SNAP! Keynote Sandwiches 2020
2 Papanikolaou Y, Fulgoni VL. Grain Foods Are Contributors of Nutrient Density for American Adults and Help Close Nutrient Recommendation Gaps: Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2012. Nutrients. 2017; 9(8):873. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9080873
3 Papanikolaou Y, Fulgoni VL. Certain Grain Foods Can Be Meaningful Contributors to Nutrient Density in the Diets of U.S. Children and Adolescents: Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2012. Nutrients. 2017; 9(2):160. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9020160
Nutritious Sandwich Recipes
With Martin’s Famous Potato Rolls & Bread
Now that we’ve learned how bread can be part of a healthy diet, let’s explore some additional ways to pack the inside of the sandwich with healthful and nutrient-rich options! For smarter filling choices, we can look to fresh fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, lean proteins, and flavorful herbs (in place of excess salt or fat). These sandwich accompaniments can help to keep us full longer, while also benefitting us with essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
Let’s see some “Smart Sandwiches” in action!
Featured Recipe #1: Protein Stuffed Almond Butter French Toast
This picture-perfect brunch recipe combines the benefits of Martin’s 100% Whole Wheat Potato Bread with protein-rich almond butter (and an extra boost from protein powder) along with fresh fruit, for a tasty meal that will keep you full and energized as you go about your day!
How to Make Homemade Almond Butter:
Ingredients: 2 Cups Raw Almonds, Pinch of Salt
Step 1: Begin by roasting raw almonds in oven at 325°F for 10 minutes.
Step 2: Once roasted, leave almonds to cool for a minute or two. Still warm, add almonds to high-speed food processor or blender, add a pinch of salt, and then blend until desired consistency.
Step 3: Every 2-3 minutes, pause processor and scrape down sides.
Step 4: Once you’ve obtained desired consistency, transfer to airtight glass container. Allow to cool completely before closing lid. Store in fridge for up to two months.
Yield: 1 Cup (about 16 servings)
Full Recipe: https://potatorolls.com/recipes/homemade-almond-butter/.
Featured Recipe #2: Chicken and Cucumber Sandwich with Peanut Sauce
This Thai-inspired sandwich utilizes Martin’s Old-Fashioned Real Butter Bread (an enriched bread), along with lean ground chicken, fresh cucumber, lettuce, herbs, and a creamy peanut sauce (another great source of protein and essential nutrients), making it a sensible choice for your next lunch or dinner.
Other Smart Sandwich Ideas
- Tangy Tuna Salad
- Chicken, Hummus, and Avocado Sandwich
- Avocado Toast with Poached Egg
- Smoked Salmon & Veggie Sliders
- Beet Hummus and Veggie Toast
- Vegetable Sandwich with Dill Sauce
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