Eating well doesn’t mean your diet has to consist of dull flavors or force you to give up your favorite ingredients. Even carbs have a place in a nutritious diet. These starchy foods really don’t deserve so much blame for weight gain; they offer a lot of health benefits. And since combining exercise and healthy eating is the best strategy for losing weight, it’s important to remember how important carbs are for after a workout. Most nutrition experts recommend consuming a ratio of three parts carbs to one part protein to adequately fuel recovery after exercise. This means a tasty sandwich might be the perfect post-workout food. Start slimming down today with these six sandwich recipes that are as tasty as they are healthy.
1. Egg Sandwiches with Wilted Spinach
When you need something fast for breakfast that has more staying power than a bowl of cereal, these hearty egg sandwiches from Williams-Sonoma, adapted from Healthy in a Hurry, are a great choice. A little bit of melted cheese and some garlicky greens make this sandwich a standout as far as flavor goes. You’ll also get plenty of protein and fiber, which means you’ll stay satisfied all morning.
- 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons low-fat milk or water
- 2 thin slices Manchego cheese
- 2 whole-wheat English muffins, split and toasted
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- 2 generous handfuls baby spinach leaves
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease two 6-ounce ramekins with 1 teaspoon olive oil. In a bowl, lightly beat eggs with milk. Divide mixture between the prepared ramekins, transfer to the oven and bake until eggs are set, 15 to 18 minutes.
Near the end of baking time, place a cheese slice on the bottom half of each English muffin. Place the cheese-topped muffins on a rack in the oven until the cheese melts slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until just wilted, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from heat and discard garlic clove.
Remove ramekins from oven and let cool slightly. Run a paring knife around the inside edges to release eggs, and turn out onto muffin bottoms. Top with spinach, close with muffin tops, and serve.
2. Smoked Salmon Flatbread
Most go-to recipes only feel appropriate for a certain meal, so this versatile salmon sandwich from Better Homes and Gardens is a great way to add some flexibility to your rotation. The flavors of the smoked fish and cream cheese taste just as good in the evening as they do in the morning, which makes this meal perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. If you can’t find chive and onion cream cheese, just substitute whatever sounds good at your grocery store. For even more nutrition and flavor, add some chopped tomatoes and cucumbers.
- 1 (8-ounce) tub chive and onion cream cheese
- 6 multigrain flatbread of pita
- 3 cups torn lettuce
- 8 ounces hot smoked salmon, flaked
- 8 small radishes, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
- Ground black pepper
Directions: Divide cream cheese evenly among flatbread rounds, spreading evenly. Top with lettuce, salmon, radishes, and capers. Season with pepper. Fold in half and serve.
3. Grilled Chicken, Tomato, and Onion Sandwiches
Nearly every component of Food & Wine’s chicken sandwich is grilled to give it way more flavor than your typical between-bread meal. Even the juicy tomatoes hit the hot grates, so make sure they’re sliced thick enough to hold together while cooking. You can even use this method indoors with a stovetop grill pan. As with an outdoor grill, allow plenty of time to preheat so you get great marks and the most flavor.
- 3 ounces pitted mixed olive
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 teaspoons fresh oregano
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 large tomatoes, sliced ⅓-inch thick
- 1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, sliced ¼-inch thick
- 4 crusty rolls, split horizontally
- 1¾ pounds thin chicken cutlets
Directions: Preheat a grill. In a mini food processor, pulse olives, garlic, and oregano until chopped. Add ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil and pulse until finely chopped and combined. Season with pepper.
Brush tomatoes, onion, and cut sides of rolls with olive oil. Grill tomatoes and onion over high heat until softened and lightly charred, about 2 minutes for tomatoes and 6 minutes for onion. Transfer veggies to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Grill bread until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat, turning occasionally, until lightly browned in spots and fully cooked, 5 to 6 minutes. Cut chicken to fit rolls and evenly divide among roll bottoms. Top with tomato, onion, and olive relish. Close sandwiches, cut in half, and serve.
4. Hummus Vegetable Sandwich
Often just used as a dip for veggies, hummus also makes a phenomenal sandwich filling because it offers plenty of protein and fiber while keeping the sandwich nice and moist. Since the chickpea spread is so flavorful on its own, you only need a few other ingredients to make a substantial meal. Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food adds cucumbers, carrots, and some olive tapenade, but feel free to use any of your other favorite veggies.
- 2 slices whole-wheat bread
- ¼ cup store-bought hummus
- 1 tablespoon store-bought olive tapenade
- ¼ cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 coarsely grated carrot
Directions: Spread one bread slice with hummus and spread tapenade on other slice. Top hummus with cucumber slices and carrot. Close with bread slice spread with tapenade. Serve.
5. Tuscan Tuna-and-Bean Sandwiches
Instead of relying on loads of mayo to create a delicious tuna salad, this recipe from Epicurious goes for a garlicky bean salad and an olive-flecked tuna mixture. Using both fillings gives this meal a variety of textures and offers a double dose of filling protein. Leftover beans and tuna will also taste great tossed with some cooked orzo.
- 1 (14- to 15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 (6-ounce) cans Italian tuna in oil, drained
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley
- ¼ cup pitted Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, finely chopped
- 1 celery rib, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 8 (⅓-inch-thick) slices rustic Italian bread or 4 oval panini rolls
- 1 cup loosely packed, trimmed watercress sprigs
Directions: In a medium bowl, coarsely mash beans with a fork. Stir in garlic, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon oil, 2 tablespoons parsley, and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
In a separate bowl, flake tuna with a fork, then stir in basil, olives, celery, onion, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper.
Spoon one-quarter of bean mixture on each of four bread slices, then top each with one-quarter of the tuna mixture. Top with watercress and close sandwiches. Serve.
6. Steak and Fennel Sandwiches
A juicy steak sandwich can still be on the menu when you opt for lean meat and flavorful veggies. Try these tenderloin sandwiches from Cooking Light, which get even more flavorful with arugula and caramelized fennel. This meal has just as much flavor as any cheese-smothered beef sandwich with just a fraction of the calories. To keep it even leaner, substitute mustard for the mayonnaise.
- ½ teaspoon ground fennel seeds
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 3 cups thinly sliced fennel
- 4 (4-ounce, 1-inch-thick) beef tenderloin steaks, trimmed
- 8 teaspoons Homemade Mayonnaise
- 8 (1-ounce) slices ciabatta, lightly toasted
- 1 cup arugula
Directions: Combine fennel seeds, salt, cumin, and pepper in a small bowl. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ½ teaspoon spice mixture and sliced fennel. Cook 15 minutes, or until fennel is tender and lightly browned, stirring frequently. Remove to a bowl and wipe pan clean.
In same skillet, heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Season steaks evenly with remaining spice mixture. Add steaks to pan and cook 4 minutes per side, or until cooked to your desired doneness. Remove from pan and let rest for 10 minutes. Thinly slice steak.
Spread 2 teaspoons mayonnaise onto each of 4 bread slices. Top each with one-quarter of beef, one-quarter of fennel, and one-quarter of arugula. Close with remaining bread slices. Serve.
Follow Christine on Twitter @christineskopec