5 Healthy Sandwich Recipes to Make for Lunch

A sandwich may be the perfect choice for a simple lunch or dinner, but this no-fuss meal can be a hidden diet disaster if you’re not careful. Monster-size sandwiches piled high with toppings can deliver thousands of calories in one sitting, even if they look fairly healthy at first glance.

Fortunately, it’s easy to build a good-for-you meal if you opt for some healthy sandwich recipes. For starters, skip the cold cuts, which are packed with salt and preservatives. You’ll also want to go light on the cheese and avoid white bread. Instead, load up on lean protein, opt for whole-grain bread, and choose lower-fat condiments and plenty of healthy veggies to give your sandwich an extra punch.

Here are five must-try sandwich recipes that are also good for you.

1. Avocado Tuna Salad Sandwich

avocados in a bowl

Replace the mayo in tuna salad with healthy avocado | iStock.com

Tuna is a good source of lean protein, but not if it’s dressed up with a ton of high-fat mayo. But you can still enjoy a simple tuna sandwich if you’re eating healthy and you substitute avocado for the mayo. This easy-to-prepare tuna salad recipe from The Healthy Maven is perfect for busy work week lunches.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of flaked light tuna
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • ½ red apple, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped, toasted walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon pickle juice (or substitute water and increase salt slightly)
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions: Mash the avocado in a large bowl. Add the tuna, celery, red onion, apple, and walnuts. Mix until combined. Add pickle juice, dried dill, Dijon mustard, cumin, and salt and pepper. Mix again.

Scoop some of the prepared tuna salad onto a slice of toasted bread. Add additional toppings if desired, cover with another slice of toasted bread, then serve. Prepared tuna salad will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

2. Vegetable Sandwich with Dill Sauce

veggie sandwich in a red plate

Veggie sandwich on multi-grain bread | iStock.com

Hearty whole-grain bread is piled high with fresh cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, and sprouts, plus some provolone cheese and a tangy yogurt sauce, for a vegetarian sandwich that is anything but boring. Feel free to add or substitute any other fresh vegetables you have on hand in this versatile sandwich. This recipe from Food & Wine serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Fresh-ground black pepper
  • 8 thick slices multi-grain bread
  • 8 lettuce leaves
  • ½ pound sliced provolone
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 small red onion, sliced very thin
  • 1 ripe avocado, preferably Hass, sliced
  • 1 cup alfalfa sprouts

Directions: In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, dill, mustard, oil, vinegar, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

Spread a tablespoon of the dill sauce on one side of each of four slices of bread. Top each slice with lettuce, provolone, tomatoes, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, the cucumber, onion, avocado, and sprouts. Drizzle another tablespoon of dill sauce over each sandwich. Cover with the remaining four slices of bread.

3. Baked Spicy Chicken Sandwiches

close up of chicken sandwich

Baked chicken sandwich | iStock.com

When a craving for a fast-food chicken sandwich hits, try making this taste-alike version from Back to Her Roots, which serves four. The breaded chicken breast is baked, not fried, so it’s better for you, and it’s topped with a light yogurt and a Dijon mustard spread rather than fatty mayo.

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 (6- to 8-ounce) chicken breasts
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Tabasco or other hot sauce
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Lettuce, tomato and hamburger buns

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a wire cooking rack with nonstick spray and place on a baking sheet.

Place each chicken breast between two slices of plastic wrap. Pound with a meat tenderizer until each is between ½- and ¾-inch thick. Slice each breast in half so you have 4 pieces of meat.

Arrange three shallow bowls on the counter. In one, whisk together flour, salt, and pepper. In the other, whisk together the hot sauce, egg, and milk. In the third, mix together the breadcrumbs, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and onion powder.

Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour mixture, followed by the egg mixture, and then the breadcrumbs. Shake off any excess coating and place on the prepared cooking rack. Spray top of chicken with cooking spray and then bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

As the chicken cooks, mix the yogurt, Dijon mustard, and minced garlic in a small bowl. Slice sandwich rolls or hamburger buns in half and spread one side with the yogurt mixture. Add the cooked chicken and top with lettuce and tomato. Serve immediately.

4. Shrimp Banh Mi

banh mi

Vietnamese banh mi sandwich | iStock.com

Low-fat, high-protein shrimp makes for a perfectly healthy sandwich filling. These no-cook Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches are topped with crunchy carrots and cucumber plus some spicy mayo for a delicious lunch that will fill you up but won’t weigh you down. This recipe from Eating Well serves 6.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2½ tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2½ tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt
  • ¾ teaspoon fish sauce, (see Ingredient note)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 (12-inch) baguettes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 pound peeled cooked shrimp, (21 to 25 per pound; thawed if frozen), tails removed
  • 18 thin slices cucumber
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces

Directions: Place carrot and vinegar in a small bowl; stir to combine. Let marinate while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Place cilantro, mayonnaise, yogurt, fish sauce, lime juice, and cayenne in a medium bowl; stir to combine. Spread 2 teaspoons of this sauce on the bottom half of each baguette. Add shrimp to the remaining sauce; toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon, divide carrot among the baguettes (discard vinegar). Top with shrimp, cucumber and scallions. Cut each baguette into two 6-inch sandwiches.

5. Philly Steak Sandwich

Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich with French fries

Philly-style steak sandwich | iStock

Steak sandwiches don’t have to be off-limits if you’re trying to eat healthy. This version of a classic Philly cheesesteak is made with lean roast beef, peppers, onions, and a small amount of cheese and is just 354 calories. It’s also approved by the health experts at the Mayo Clinic, so you can chow down without guilt.

Ingredients:

  • ½ green pepper, thinly sliced
  • ½ small onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces lean roast beef, shaved
  • 2 whole-wheat buns
  • ¼ cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly coat a baking pan with cooking spray. Spray a frying pan with cooking spray. Over medium heat, sauté the peppers and onions until they soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the roast beef and sauté for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

Place ½ of the roast beef mixture on each bun. Place in the prepared baking dish. Top each bun with 2 tablespoons of the cheese. Bake until the cheese has melted, 2 to 4 minutes.

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