Put A New Twist on Old-School Sandwich Favorites

Written By: Sofia Layarda, MPH

Title: Master of Public Health

Alumni: University of California, Berkeley

Last Updated on:

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you try to plan what to pack for the kids’ school lunches? If you are stuck in a sandwich rut, try the following ways to put a new twist on your tried-and-true favorites without busting out a whole new cookbook.

5 Ways to Add a New Twist to Old-School Sandwich Favorites

1. Goodbye Mayo, Hello Legumes and Nuts

Yes, you read that right. Legumes are not just for stews, soups, or salads. Try using hummus (mashed chickpeas), mashed lentils, or mashed tempeh in place of mayo as a spread for your sandwiches. An easy tempeh spread can be made by adding cut-up, pan-fried tempeh cubes to a food processor along with a few cloves of garlic (raw or roasted), a pinch of cayenne pepper, shallot, lemon or lime juice, salt, and sugar. Puree to a paste. Another easy, tasty spread for sandwiches is pesto. You can go the traditional route with pine nuts, basil, garlic, and parmesan cheese. Or, you can experiment with other nuts and seeds and other herbs.

2. Add Texture or Contrasting Flavors

Looking for a simple way to perk up your regular tuna salad or chicken salad sandwich? You can:

  • add chopped dried fruit such as cranberries, raisins, or dates
  • add crunchy roasted nuts or seeds such as sesame, flax, or sunflower seeds
  • add zing using herbs such as fresh chives, chopped parsley, cilantro, or even finely minced chili peppers
  • add crisp pieces of radish, carrot, jicama, or cucumber

3. Get Deconstructed

Disassemble the sandwich: Switch to a whole grain salad with protein and extra veggies. Here are some ideas:

  • Shrimp, wheat berries, and cucumber in a yogurt and dill dressing
  • Quinoa, chicken or firm tofu, spinach, and orange slices, tossed with sesame oil-and-tamari dressing
  • Hard-boiled egg, potato, beets (roasted or canned), green beans, chopped chives, and feta cheese
  • Brown rice, avocado, black beans, tomato, chopped cilantro, and shallots tossed with lime juice, oregano, and olive oil
  • Soba (buckwheat) noodles with nori (seaweed) slivers, broccoli florets, edamame, chopped scallions, and canned tuna

4. Get Green Beyond Lettuce

While there is nothing wrong with using green lettuce for your sandwich, there are other options that are also fun to try. Sprouts, slices of pickled vegetables (radish, jicama, cucumber), and other dark-green leafy vegetables such as arugula, spinach, and kale make tasty and interesting companions to the rest of the sandwich fillings.

5. Meatless Mayhem

Meatless doesn’t have to mean a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. These are meatless sandwich fillings too:

  • avocado with pickled red onion and Monterey Jack cheese
  • grilled tempeh and pineapple slices
  • almond butter and apple slices
  • Gorgonzola cheese and caramelized onion

The Bottom Line

While sandwiches are fairly easy to make, sometimes we need a little variation to keep them interesting and enjoyable. Pick and choose from the ideas above to make lunchtime a pleasant break from the routine.


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