Sandwiches are a meal that are pretty difficult to avoid. From their roots in our brown paper lunch bag in elementary school to summer beach picnics to making our way into our work refrigerators, sandwiches are a convenient and filling lunch that escape all constraints of time, but sandwiches without bread? Certainly different, but very, very good.
Unfortunately, done the wrong way, sandwiches can end up being a bit on the unhealthy side, especially when it comes to eating too much refined flour in the form of bread. “A lot of people are afraid of eating bread and carbs,” Chef and registered dietician Jessica Smith says to Bustle over email.
While bread is obviously delicious, it's a fact that white bread is void of most nutrients and low in fiber, according to LIVESTRONG. This lack of fiber means it takes you much longer to actually feel full in comparison to something that is more high-fiber, according to Women's Health. While you should feel free to eat whatever you want, whenever you want, if you're looking for something vitamin-dense and filling, traditional sandwich bread probably isn't the best option.
But do not fear — it’s not time to give up sandwiches just yet! There are plenty of healthy swaps for those days when you just aren’t feeling the white bread, and there are enough options to keep you going all through the week. “If you want healthier options of bread, you can look for whole wheat or high fiber breads,” says Smith.
If you’re looking for something a little more creative, whether you’re gluten-free or just an experimental cooker, try one of the below seven options for what you can substitute on your sandwich instead of using bread.
1. Lettuce Wrap
Use veggies like collard greens and romaine as a sturdy base to hold together your sandwich. You'll be replacing nutrient-empty white bread with a wrap filled with vitamin A, magnesium, calcium, and fiber, according to Nutrition Data, a site that catalogs the nutritional value of a variety of foods.
2. Portabello Mushrooms
"Skip the hamburger bun and top a grilled portabello mushroom with your favorite burger," Jill Weisenberger, RD tells Bustle over email. "They may not be bright and colorful, but mushrooms are loaded with nutrition. They have B vitamins, potassium, and fiber."
3. Cored Tomato Or Bell Pepper
"Fill a cored tomato or bell pepper with egg salad or tuna salad," suggests Weisenberger. "If you prefer a more traditional sandwich, you can slice two thick pieces of bell pepper to take the place of bread. Tomatoes and bell peppers contain lots of carotenoids as well as vitamin C."
4. Grilled Eggplant
"Grilled eggplant slices make a great sub for bread for hot or cold sandwiches," says Weisenberger. "Leave the skins on to get the most health-boosting phytochemicals."
5. Grilled Tofu
Grilled tofu and tempeh are a good added source of both protein and fiber. "Grilled tofu or tempeh are sturdy bread subs," says Weisenberger. "Try them with grilled veggies and maybe a little melted cheese too."
Even fruit slices make great bread stand-ins.
"Try apple rounds with peanut butter or with cheese and veggies," says Weisenberger. "Get creative and use thick slices of peach or nectarine."
Adding fruit instead of bread adds not only fiber, but extra vitamins and antioxidants as well, according to The New York Times.
If you like your sandwiches with a bit of crunch, try using cucumber as your bread-base instead. Opt for a larger cucumber instead of the small Persian-style kind, and you'll have a heart and filling sandwich filled with antioxidants and vitamins.