Throughout centuries people have been putting deli meats and breads together a delicious delight — a sandwich, an expert said.


Even though they were created as a convenience food, sandwiches can be a quick and healthy nutritious meal to share with family and friends, said Teresa Henson, Extension specialist and nutrition outreach coordinator at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff 1890 Cooperative Extension Program.


With August being National Sandwich Month and children getting back to school and parents to work, this is an ideal time to incorporate sandwiches into lunches, she said.


This is a good way to include whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats into kids’ diets, according to the Choose My Plate website https://www.choosemyplate.gov/eathealthy/grains. For example, add cucumbers or spinach as toppings on a turkey sandwich.


Henson offers these creative tips to add nutrition to sandwiches:


• Use whole grains. Vary the taste and texture of sandwiches with whole grains. They are a good source of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Also, use different whole grain breads such as bagels, tortillas and pita for sandwiches.


• Add different fillings. Instead of mixing shredded tuna, turkey or chicken with mayonnaise, use low-fat plain yogurt. Add flavor and crunch by adding chopped celery, cucumbers or pickles. Consider adding peanuts and sliced bananas instead of peanut butter and jelly.


• Use different sandwich spreads. Use different spreads to spice up flavor and nutritional value. Reduce the amount of spreads, such as mayonnaise, margarine and butter. Instead, add low-fat plain yogurts, different flavors of mustards or light flavored dressings.


• Try tasty toppings. Add vegetables or fruits. Consider adding veggies such as spinach; green, red or orange bell peppers; or shredded carrots. Or, add fruits such as sliced apples, pineapple or bananas.


• Add lean protein. Add lean meats, such as turkey, roast beef, ham or low-fat luncheon meats on sandwiches instead of deli meats, bologna or salami. Processed meats such as hams and luncheon deli meats have a high sodium content. Check the nutrition facts label to help reduce sodium intake.


Henson offers this easy recipe for tuna melt sandwiches which includes four of the five food groups.


TUNA MELT SANDWICH


Servings: 4


2 6-ounce cans tuna, canned in water and drained;


1 bunch green onions, chopped or 1/3 cup chopped onion;


3 tablespoons light mayonnaise,


1/8 teaspoon black pepper,


1/8 teaspoon garlic powder,


4 slices whole wheat or whole grain bread or split rolls,


4 tomato slices (1 medium tomato),


4 slices (3 ounces) American cheese;


Preheat oven to 350 F. In medium bowl, combine tuna, onion, mayonnaise, pepper and garlic powder. Mix well. Place bread on baking sheet. Spoon a quarter of the tuna mixture on each slice of bread.


Bake five minutes. Add a slice of cheese on top of each sandwich and return to oven for another five minutes or until cheese is melted and bread is toasted. Serve. Ideal with vegetable soup and milk.


The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all of its Extension and Research programs and services without discrimination.


Recipe Source: Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.