Bored of the same old sandwiches and looking for a way to cut some carb calories and add some easy veggies into your diet? Consider a new take on your classic sandwich or wrap- cut the bread. I am not an advocate of no-carb or even most low-carb diets, but as I have said before, it is a question of WHICH carbs you are eating. Most bread and sandwich wraps are mainly refined carbs made from processed flour, which means that much of the fiber and nutrients have been removed and often sugar and preservatives have been added. The calories? Yep, they're still there. And don't fall into the assumption that a wrap has less calories or is more nutritious than bread for your sandwich: it simply is a case of the bread in a wrap being more dense and flat due to not having been risen with yeast. Most wraps pack a serious carb and calorie wallop before they're even filled, unbeknownst to those chomping down on them. So consider saving the majority of your carb consumption for whole grains in their original form such as brown rice, barley, oats (as in oatmeal), quinoa, millet and buckwheat. When it comes time for lunch, you can still have a quick, easy, eat-with-your-hands meal by using the broad, flat leaves of leafy green veggies as the vehicle for your fillings.
My personal favorite for this purpose is collard green leaves. Most people have only had collard greens cooked in the traditional Southern manner (boiled for ages and then seasoned with lard and/or bacon and tons of salt), or they've never had them at all. Collard greens are packed full of fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, as well as chlorophyll that is essential for healthy GI tract functioning and liver and kidney function. Collard green leaves can be purchased at your fruit and vegetable market or in the produce section of your grocery store; they come as a bunch of large, flat, dark green leaves with a rib down the middle. All you need to do is remove the bottom two inches or so of the rib that sticks off of the leaf, wash and pat dry, and your ready to make your "wrap".
Take one leaf, spread with a small amount of your dressing of choice if desired, then make a long, thin, horizontal pile of your fillings towards one end of the leaf, and roll up. Pretty simple! My suggestion is to use several leaves and parcel out your sandwich fillings amongst them- that way you are getting several large leaves at one sitting and increasing your vegetable-to-protein intake; more fiber and nutrients to benefit from, and better for your digestion, too. Divide up tuna salad or hummus or marinated tofu sticks and add toppings such as avocado, olives, shredded carrots, or alfalfa sprouts, and then roll up. Another great option is to throw in your leftovers, like cooked rice and/or beans and a mix of cooked and raw vegetables. If you want to make a meat sandwich, consider using one slice of cold cut per roll along with lots of other veggies and your dressing of choice. This will also help you to fill up on veggies and cut out excess meat protein from your meal- you only need a small amount of meat to get the benefit of the protein, and most deli sandwiches as you may have noticed really lay on the meat, to the detriment of our health and our waistlines.
If you don't have collard greens handy or can't find them at your store, you can also use this idea with romaine lettuce, boston lettuce, or butter lettuce; anything green that has a flat and sturdy enough leaf to pile fillings into and roll up. But remember, while lettuce is good, darker and more fibrous greens such as collards give you more bang for your buck in the nutrition department. Happy Eating!
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