Expert tips to make sandwiches a great part of dieting

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) -- Picking the proper proteins, fats and carbohydrates is the key to making a sandwich for any type of meal plan.

Dietitian Patricia Bannan says no matter how you slice it, there are loads of good options when making a sandwich.

"Sandwiches can be a dietary disaster, or they can be a nutrition powerhouse. It's the size of the sandwich and what you put in it," said Bannan.

A sandwich can actually be a great opportunity for a balanced meal. You want to choose good protein, some smart fat and healthy carbohydrates, but the challenge is finding the best.

Rather than lose a component, go for quality.

"It's not about eliminating any of those, but it's really about finding the right combination," said Bannan. "Chicken or turkey, or you can also go vegetarian."

Beyond deli meat, Bannan suggests these proteins:

"You can do tofu, you can do beans, you can do a hummus spread. For breakfast eggs are great, a low fat cheese," reminded Bannan.

Then pile on the produce.

"What I like to do is grill up extra vegetables. Have those in the fridge, either as a side or throw them on your sandwich," said Bannan.

Bannan's favorite: portobello mushroom with beans, cheese, barbecue sauce and jalapeno.

Move beyond mayo and choose avocado or hummus for healthy fats with nutrients. Also, whole grain is key for bread. Choose one with naturally occurring fiber.

You can go open faced to cut calories.

While whole wheat is the American standard, don't discount others known as ancient grains.

"Grains that are in their original form, haven't been cross bred, haven't been modified in anyway," said Jonathan Davis, head baker for La Brea Bakery.

Davis says La Brea Bakery's ancient grain mix has old world flavors many have forgotten.

"You can see there's amaranth in here, there's millet, some buckwheat and some rye," Davis describes. "Farro, it has spelt, it has the ancient grain mix in here and it also has a little bit of quinoa."

Bannan looks for at least 5 grams of fiber and at least 10 grams of protein in a sandwich. She said you can double those stats for a "power" sandwich.

And calorie-wise?

"A good calorie level for a sandwich is about 300 to 400 calories," said Bannan.
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