Sandwiches are a tried and true finger food enjoyed by billions around the world. When you think of a sandwich, you might picture a few slices of lunch meat and cheese wedged between two slices of bread. But, sandwiches can contain so much more than that!
Sandwiches can definitely be delicious without the meat. Plant-based sandwiches can contain a variety of ingredients and make for a great meal or snack.
Are Plant-Based Sandwiches Nutritious?
Beyond being delicious, sandwiches can also be a nutritious meal or snack. Canada’s newly released food guide recommends vegetables, fruits, and protein (with an emphasis on plant-based protein) be the foundation for a healthful diet. Specifically, the food guide recommends including half a plate of vegetables and fruit, a quarter plate of whole grains, and a quarter plate of protein foods at meals.
A well-constructed sandwich with some extra fruit or vegetables on the side can definitely meet these guidelines. Simply choose a whole-grain base, add a healthy source of plant-based protein, and top with lots of vegetables!
Your Guide to a Well-Constructed Plant-Based Sandwich
Step 1: Choose a whole-grain base
Whole grains have lots of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Choosing whole grains instead of refined can help you to manage blood sugar, lower cholesterol and even protect against some cancers.
Bread, tortillas, naan, buns, and pitas are all available in whole grain form! Ingredients on the label are listed in order by weight. Check the ingredient list to make sure “whole grain” is listed first.
Step 2: Choose a spread (optional)
Traditional sandwich spreads can often be high in added fat, sugar, and sodium. As national dietary guidelines recommend limiting our intake of these nutrients, it’s a good idea to opt for healthier alternatives.
Choose a spread that contains healthy fats, also known as unsaturated fats. These types of fats improve blood cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation. Good options include avocado, hummus, pesto or nut butter. Olive oil mixed with herbs or spices of your choice also makes for a flavorful spread in your plant-based sandwich.
Step 3: Pick your plant-based protein
Including protein in your plant-based sandwich will help to keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer.
Nut butter and hummus are two spreads that also provide an excellent source of protein for your sandwich. For an option that is chunkier than hummus, try a chickpea smash! Lightly mash chickpeas with lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Lentils and black beans can also be used to make a protein-rich mash.
Other protein-rich options for your sandwich include tofu and tempeh. Slice these proteins into wide, thin pieces so they fit nicely between your bread. Consider marinating and baking them for added flavor and texture!
Meat alternatives, such as textured vegetable protein, are another good option for your plant-based sandwich. Vegan meat products can also add protein and flavor to your sandwich.
Step 4: Load your sandwich with vegetables
We know vegetables and fruits are an important part of a healthy diet. They can help to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, prevent some cancers, and maintain optimal blood sugar levels!
There are lots of appetizing ways to add vegetables to your sandwich. Try them roasted or pan-fried with spices of your choice. Or simply cut them up and add them raw to your sandwich for extra crunchiness.
Fruit can also be a surprisingly delicious addition to your plant-based sandwich! Try sliced apples, grapes, pears or figs and pair them with some vegan cheese. Sliced banana also makes a great pairing with a nut butter sandwich.
Step 5: Pair with extra fruit or vegetables on the side
Include half a plate of vegetables at your meal by adding some extra fruits and vegetables on the side of your plant-based sandwich. Pair your sandwich with some cut-up fruits and vegetables of your choice!
Putting it all together
Hopefully, these five steps will allow you to play around with different ingredients and find a plant-based sandwich that you love! If you are looking for more plant-based sandwich inspiration, try the following ingredient combinations:
- Chickpea smash + lettuce, onions and tomato on whole-grain bread with avocado spread
- Hummus + roasted peppers, zucchini, and broccoli on a whole-grain pita
- Marinated tempeh + tomatoes and cucumber on a whole-grain bun with avocado spread
- Nut butter + bananas and strawberries in a whole-grain tortilla
- Tofu + spinach, tomato and avocado on whole-grain bread with olive oil, garlic and rosemary spread
- BBQ tofu + shredded carrots, cabbage and avocado in a whole-grain pita
As you can see, a plant-based sandwich is an easy option for your meals or snacks. Just follow these five steps for a delicious and nutritious plant-based sandwich. What’s your favorite plant-based sandwich? Let us know in the comments!
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