Sandwich inspiration (and my view on lunch meat)

Grilled Caprese sandwich with balsamic vinegar.
Grilled Caprese Sandwich with Balsamic Vinegar

To be honest, I am not a huge lunch meat person so it was very easy for me to stop buying it on a regular basis. The main reason is because (especially after watching Food, Inc.) we made a decision to focus on eating locally raised meats. And have you ever seen someone slicing off pieces of deli meat at your local farmers’ market?

One benefit of this decision is reducing our overall meat consumption, which is better for our health and environment anyway. So this is the reason I now only buy sandwich meat on a rare occasion – once every month or two – and it’s organic when we I do!

With that being said, this change opened up a whole new window of opportunity when it came to sandwiches. But with anything, I can sometimes get in a rut.

So I recently asked my wonderful facebook community to share their most favorite sandwich combinations, which helped inspire this fresh list of sandwich ideas below. Please also feel free to leave your ideas in the comments at the bottom!

Cold Sandwiches / Wraps

  • Hummus with cheese, avocado and veggies (like carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, bell peppers or tomatoes)
  • Egg salad (variations include: curry or chopped green olives)
  • Egg salad BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato)
Egg sandwich on whole-wheat bread.
Egg Salad Sandwich
  • (Who doesn’t love) PB&J
  • Peanut butter and banana
  • Cream cheese and jelly
  • Sprouts, provolone, honey mustard and avocado
  • BLT with or without crabmeat
  • BLT with avocado and spicy mayonnaise on focaccia bread
  • Open faced with black bean hummus, roasted red bell peppers, and avocado
  • Brie cheese, thin slice of green apple, and homemade chicken salad with grapes and walnuts
  • Chicken, black bean dip, tomato and avocado with a little squeeze of lime
  • Open faced with tuna salad, melted provolone and a slice of tomato
  • Herbed cream cheese and cucumber
  • Pecan-raisin bread with granny smith apple, goat cheese and honey
  • Pimento cheese
  • Cheddar, tomato, cucumber, a little mayo, salt and pepper
  • Grilled chicken, baked apples and brie, fig jam and lettuce
  • Sliced cucumber, tomato, hard-boiled egg, mayo
  • Cream cheese on whole-wheat cinnamon raisin bread or banana bread
  • Hot / Grilled Sandwiches

    • Caprese (pictured above – great on bread or a pita)
    • Pimento cheese (yes…it is amazing served hot!)
    • Roasted veggies, pesto, and cheese
    • Grilled cheese with or without tomatoes (trick: sprinkle a tad bit of grated Parmesan just before the bread gets fully browned!)
    • Grilled swiss cheese and avocado
    • Grilled egg, cheese and tomato
    • Melted brie with thin sliced apple
    • Grilled veggie sandwich with garlic mayonnaise and feta
    • Mushroom, roasted bell pepper, goat cheese, and pesto panini

    [Entered into Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday]

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    104 thoughts on “Sandwich inspiration (and my view on lunch meat)”

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    1. Right now my favorite is a boiled egg and half an avocado mashed together with a tiny sprinkle of thyme on rosemary bread, toasted.

    2. One of our favorites is a toasted bagel open faced with cream cheese and apple slices on top. Occasionally we will add crispy bacon to this and it is such a delicious treat!

    3. Egg salad BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato)? Isn’t bacon ‘processed’ pork? which is not so healthy?

    4. Some creative sandwich ideas. But it seems many of these are either too high in fat or too expensive.
      The egg salad are pretty basic. I make once a week. I also make tuna melts. Wild caught tuna in the foil packet, but I suppose that isn’t on the approved list.

    5. My favorite chicken salad recipe is a staple in Venezuelan cuisine. It has boiled chicken breast (shredded), chopped avocado, chopped cilantro, mayo, lime juice, salt and pepper. It can be used in sandwich, or corn tortillas for a “cold” taco. It is great as an appetizer with tortilla chips as well.

    6. Here is my favorite I buy from whole foods.

      Sonoma Chicken Salad
      Ingredients:

      Dressing
      1 cup mayonnaise
      4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
      5 teaspoons honey
      2 teaspoons poppy seeds
      Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
      Salad
      2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
      3/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted
      2 cups red seedless grapes
      3 stalks celery, thinly sliced

      Method:

      In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, poppy seeds, salt and pepper.
      Refrigerate until ready to dress the salad. This can be prepared up to 2 days
      ahead.

      Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the chicken breasts in one layer in a baking
      dish with 1/2 cup water. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes until completely
      cooked through. Remove cooked chicken breasts from pan, cool at room temperature
      for 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate.

      When the chicken is cold, dice into bite-size chunks and transfer to a large
      bowl. Stir in pecans, grapes, celery and dressing.
      Serves 6

      1. Hello Marsela, My husbands fav is one that I make. I use organic chicken breast (boil them with a little salt or use chicken broth) when done let cool, shred, add sour cream , grapes, pecans. Its really good.

    7. Wow, you guys use a ton of cheese and eggs. I’m conscious of it because I’m allergic to both those things :( I make a lot of similar sandwiches but without any cheese! I love subbing hummus and/or avocado for the creamy fattiness, or pickles and olives for something salty. One of my favorites is making “grilled avocado,” which is really just like a grilled cheese but with soft avocado between the bread slices (I like tomatoes in there too).

    8. I love shredded chicken with pesto and grated parmesan cheese. Mix it all together, and it’s great in a pita, on bread or in a wrap!

    9. One of my favorites is a “vegetarian reuben” inspired by one I had at a vegetarian restaurant in Green Bay, WI. (name escapes me, sorry) Saute some sliced mushrooms and onion until the mushroooms are brown and onions soft, add some sauerkraut and heat through. Pile onto some toasted pumpernickel or rye, add shredded enmental or swiss cheese and homemade sauce (mayo w/ketchup and a drop of tabasco). Yum!

    10. I love having new ideas for lunches, but I wonder how you keep the hot sandwiches warm? If you find a way to keep them warm, does that introduce the possiblity of having bacteria grow in the food from being at a room temperature setting for too long? just wondering, these are the things I think about when preparing my kids’ lunches!

      1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

        Hi Rhonda. My kids actually eat the sandwiches that are supposed to be warm cold. They don’t care at all. That eliminates the potential for spoilage as well. Jill

      1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

        Hi Christin. I know LIsa uses the Spectrum brand organic mayonnaise in her egg salad, but, in great moderation (probably only like once a month). Jill

    11. We’re in a bind… i’m lactose intolerant & my daughter has a milk protein allergy (which means no dairy), peanut (& treenuts), & egg. Are there honestly no luncheon meats that would work??? Deli sliced (at the store) is not an option for us because of cross-contamination with cheese. Perhaps, it will it just be something i close my eyes at.

      There are not any local meat farmers nearby to get our meat. We make it to Whole Foods about once every 3 months & do a stock up of my daughters special foods. The drive is about 45 minutes there & another 45 back. Thoughts, freezing??? Any ideas? We’re trying very hard to clean up our already healthy lifestyle & taking it to the next level.

      1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

        Hi Meta. Have you checked out the Applegate Farms luncheon meats? They are pre-packaged, but, I’m not sure about the cross contamination with the cheese, but, they might be an option. You may also want to check out these other lunch ideas:
        https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/05/17/a-week-with-the-leakes-lunch/
        https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/04/19/school-lunch-roundup/
        https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/09/23/homemade-school-lunches/
        https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/08/12/real-food-tips-10-ways-to-switch-up-your-kid’s-lunch/
        Jill

      2. Hi Meta – we are in the same boat with my son (dairy & egg allergy) Applegate Farms is Casein free! They state that clearly on the ham that I buy from them and the salami. Not that my son will eat that. sigh. I am experimenting with making healthy egg and dairy free muffins to put in his lunch box. Using some ideas from the sneaky chef along with ideas I have found on this site. Good luck!! Food allergies do make it especially challenging in some ways and in others we are naturally going the less processed route because of them!

    12. Favorite sandwiches?
      Leftover grilled salmon with spinach and goat cheese in a wrap.
      Leftover steak, thinly sliced. Serve with balsamic pickled onions, leafy greens, a little pesto mayo, and some leftover cooked mushrooms… open faced on crunchy bread.
      Thinly sliced apple with peanut butter. Spread the pb on both pieces of bread to keep the apples crisp and unbrowned.
      Grilled veggies and goat cheese on arugula on a crispy whole grain roll. (best with balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil)

      lately i’ve been craving a meatloaf sandwich. but that requires making real-food meatloaf first.

    13. What about cooking a ham and slicing it yourself? Is that a healthier option? I know in lots of areas you can get local pork, ham, and sausage. I’m not a big ham fan, but at least you’d be skipping nitrates that way, right? Also, I’ve been eating cold pasta salads for lunch instead of a sandwich. A good one was homemade pesto, whole wheat pasta, and leftover shredded chicken from a crockpot whole chicken dinner. Simple and really good hot or cold.

    14. I think my favorites are egg salad (preferably made with duck eggs) with baby spinach and avocado on a homemade Ezekiel bun and, in the “grilled” department, it’s gotta be grilled baby spinach, avocado (do you see a trend here) and some yummy local feta.

    15. Any tips are welcome – my husband loves his ham lunch meat sandwiches and has one everyday for lunch. He will eat PB&J once a week but doesn’t like chicken/turkey/tuna or veggies in his sandwich and says he needs a meat or he won’t feel full (exception is peanut butter). Any thoughts for helping him cut out the lunch meat??? Also doesn’t like the texture of beans and only likes small amounts of hummus spread thin so it’s not filling enough. He needs a cold sandwich for work. I haven’t tried egg salad sandwiches yet and if he likes that is it healthy to eat 4 days a week? thanks!!!!

      1. I sometimes make pulled pork from a botson butt. It’s good with bbq sauce and cold. My husband likes it!

      2. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

        Hi Anastacia. If he doesn’t want to give up the ham, perhaps you can make sure the one you are using is free of nitrates and try and limit the number of times a week he has it. How about a grilled chicken or fresh turkey sandwich? I would say variety is key. Good luck. I hope he finds a few options he can enjoy. Jill

    16. What about roast beef sandwich? We put a roast in the crock pot with cream of mushroom and cook it until it falls apart. Then use that as our ‘sliced meet’ with cheese, lettuces, a dressing, etc…

    17. All of these sandwich ideas are making my soul ache (and my mouth water, obviously haha). I found out I can’t have egg yolks, any form of dairy, wheat, yeast, gluten, or garlic last year, so it has sadly been a sandwich-less year for me full of boiled chicken and veggies. I find out in a couple weeks after my re-test if I can eat any of these things again now that I’ve healed up my insides. I hope with all my might that perhaps one of these delicious items on the list will be in my mouth later this summer! :D the brie one….omg brieeee come back to meeeeeee!

    18. Eating quinoa with roasted veggies sprinkled with parm right now. Did send the kiddos with organic applegate uncured ham today.

    19. We’ve had good success with using yogurt in place of mayo – we’ve been making our own yogurt mostly in the last year or so, but any plain yogurt would work. Strain overnight in a coffee filter to get a thicker consistency, and then use in place of mayo – we started out half yogurt half mayo, and worked our way up to just yogurt.

    20. A fantastic sandwich that I love is a broiled avocado, tomato and cheese on whole wheat (preferably home-made for the delicious chewy factor). Whatever cheese you want. SO GOOD.

    21. We have Microgreen Salad Sandwiches often… A handful of fresh microgreens (any variety will do, but we prefer our Lucky Mix of brasica micros), a slice of garden tomato, garden cucumber, drizzle with vinegar and oil and a touch of sea salt. Whole grain local bread, toasted or grilled. The nutrition is the equivalent to 3 servings of veggies, with the crunchy, crisp texture you crave.

      1. That is the beauty of eating real foods. When you eat healthy foods, you find that you fill up faster than with processed foods, and you stay full for longer. Processed foods are empty calories and empty in satisfaction; when you eat them, you think you are hungry again in a short time when, in fact, you are simply addicted to the additives, sugar, salt, etc. After you have been on a whole foods diet for some time, you will find that you don’t crave junk food at all and you end up eating less.

        In the first three months of changing my diet, I lost 12 pounds without trying. I found that I don’t crave salty snacks or sweets; BUT, if I do want to eat something, I eat. I do not deprive myself of anything, but I find that the things that I want now are healthy foods.

        My humble suggestions? Give a healthy diet a try. Switch sodas and sugar drinks for water flavored with fruit or fruit juice. Make sure you have healthy, easily-accessible snacks on hand. Plan meals in advance so that you aren’t scrounging around at the last minute for something. And, don’t punish yourself. If you want something outside the diet, eat it. Eventually, you will gravitate toward healthy choices if you see it as a pleasure and not a chore.

        Good luck!!

    22. What kind of Jelly do you use? I was went to 2 different places today to check out their selection. I found one with only 5 or 6 ingredients, but wasn’t sure if it was “allowed” so I left it on the shelf, the only one I found that didn’t have sugar though!

      1. 100 Days of Real Food

        I found some good jelly by Crofter’s that’s organic and sweetened with fruit juice concentrate instead of sugar. Hope that helps!