For the past while it would seem that most of our posts have shied away from the kitchen and food angle of this whole weight loss journey that we have been on. Let’s be honest, my post yesterday was a whole lot more about how I was feeling, and the power a decent outfit can have over your point of view. This is well and good, and it is important stuff to talk about for sure, but more important sometimes is talking about HOW to get where you wanna go when it comes to loosing weight. I seem to remember that once upon a time (at the outset of this blog) I had indicated that this would be part of what we would discuss as time went on. So, let’s get back to the things I said we would talk about shall we?
EVERY “brown bag” luncher, since the beginning of time has relied on the humble sandwich to fill their hungry tummy at some point. I feel confident enough in this to say it is a fact. I will even go as far as to imply that a sandwich is probably the most common lunch time food of recent history. Of course, when you are on a weight loss journey, one of the first things most people do is begin to “brown bag it.” This is almost a necessity if you want to be successful in reaching your goals, because as you may have seen from some of our earlier posts, eating out and controlling caloric intake can be very difficult goals to make co-exist. With some wise choosing, and a dose of luck it CAN be done, but my experience has been that preparing a lunch at home and bringing it with you makes it ultimately easier to control your intake.
Why don’t we dissect a typical sandwich then? Let’s start at the outsides. BREAD!! Kinda simple right? Two slices of bread make up one sandwich. Three slices if your talking about a clubhouse (oh….I haven’t had one of those in FOREVER…. damn, now I WANT a club!! Thank you all for that!). Homemade white bread, that rings up 121 calories a slice. That’s 242 calories right outta the gate. I think this might just be interesting…..
A good sandwich needs far more than just bread of course. Why don’t we put some mayo on that bread? That’s a good choice right? From a taste point of view I’m a fan of REAL mayo. Skimping here isn’t gonna happen right? I will take it easy though. While I never measured (or cared) before, today, just for the purpose of the blog, let’s just say we used 1 tablespoon of that wonderful white goodness. That’s 90 calories. NINETY!!! So our total is now 332 calories. That’s before we even have any meat in there. I guess that should be the next next thing right?
Let’s try and be rational, and controlled. We won’t be piling it high and making a monster hero. Let’s just keep it on the smaller side. So how about ham. Two ounces should be enough to make an adequate sandwich. At 60 calories an ounce we have just added another 120 calories. Where are we now? Let’s see. I think that’s 452 calories. Great. How many calories can you have for lunch anyway? Well, any of you who have kept up with the blog know that on a daily allowance of nearly 1700 calories, which is not even a “restricted” caloric intake for most women, usually allows me about 400 calories for my lunch, so we have blown it already!!
This sandwich isn’t finished yet though is it? No, there has to be some cheese of course. I hope you like swiss, but just one slice, because that’s what goes on this sandwich. There’s another 110 calories. I’m trying to keep up here, that’s 562 right? We still haven’t added any bacon (43 calories a slice) and who can only have one slice? With 2 slices of bacon we now have a 648 calorie sandwich. If you’re trying to survive on a 1200 calorie diet that’s more than half of your day’s allotment.
Let’s not even try and “remake’ this sandwich. I don’t want to do the compare and contrast just yet. But I CAN build you a lower calorie sandwich. Here’s what it would look like (see picture at left). This sandwich was lunch one day and it was only 252 calories. Yes. The whole sandwich for the same calories as two slices of homemade bread. Alright, for all of you “hair splitters” out there, it’s 10 whole calories MORE than 2 slices of homemade bread. But guess what? I can make this sandwich in other variations which are even lower in calories, but more on that a little later. This sandwich starts with a “multi grain 100 one bun” for only 100 calories. If you add 2 ounces of strip loin steak which you grilled yourself on the bbq, maybe with a little smoke on it for flavour (120 cal) you’ve now reached 220 calories. I know you are thinking that this might be getting a bit tight right? There’s no cheese. No condiments. These things are gonna add up aren’t they?
Well, with a little planning you can get around this. The sandwich you see in the picture has 1 tablespoon of Labneh in place of the cheese. Labneh is a yogurt based product. In basic terms, you take some yogurt and place it in a cheesecloth and allow the liquid portion to drain away over 24-48 hours (well, if you want to make your own that is… there is plenty of prepared Labneh available at the grocery store if you know where to look). What is left behind is the yogurt solids. It is very much like cream cheese actually, but much more tart. Best part? 30 calories per tablespoon!! The Labneh I used on this sandwich also happened to be flavoured with fresh herbs. Taste without additional calories gotta love that!!! The sandwich has now reached 250 calories.
I’n not quite done though right? Where do those last 2 calories live? Well, if you have read any other blog posts you would know that our spring obsession is RAMPS. For a punch of onion/garlic goodness there’s 4g of chopped ramps in there. 252 calories. Done. I enjoyed this sandwich. While I will admit that my friends BACON and MAYO were “missing in action” the benefit of reduced calories far outweighed the pain of my missing friends, at least in my humble opinion.
Of course there are options and variations you can do. After all this IS a roast beef sandwich, so you could easily add some mustard to the mix (you can find mustard that barely has any calories at all if you look at your labels, and trust me, it’s worth looking). Maybe you like a little spice, there’s always my favourite NO CAL hot sauce. Also don’t over look basics like salt and pepper. While I am not usually a fan of “processed” things (especially cheese) you could use a processed cheese like La Vache Qui Rit which is amazingly low in calories and comes in several flavour profiles. Ramps aren’t your bag? That’s ok too, put in a handful of arugula it adds a nice nutty flavour for next to no calories.
What if you’re planning an really nice dinner one day and really need to try and scale back your calories early in the day to accommodate? Well, swap out the beef, and throw in some sliced roast chicken breast you smoked on your bbq, that’s just 94 calories for 2 ounces. Of course you could also use deli turkey like Maple Leaf Natural Selections (I receive no benefit from Maple Leaf I swear!) At 4 slices for only 70 calories, that’s MORE than 2 ounces and less calories!. If you substitute their sliced deli chicken you can get 4 slices (just over 2 ounces) for only 60 calories!! A little slice or two of tomato won’t kill your calorie count, but just be sure to weigh it and count them. I think if you follow what I’ve been writing you would know that you can actually make a sandwich for LESS than 200 calories that could be the basis of a healthy and calorie reduced diet.
Let’s just try for badness shall we? Here goes:
- 100 cal One Bun
- 60 cal Deli Chicken (Natural Selections)
- 25 cal La Vache Qui Rit Light (one triangle)
- 0 cal Cattle Boyz Hot Sauce
- 2 cal Arugula (10g)
- 0 cal salt and pepper
- 6 cal cherry tomatoes (three sliced.. yes you can have 6, it’s only 12 calories after all)
TOTAL??? 193 calories!
Success!!! Add a glass of water (or unsweetened ice tea, or black coffee, or an unsweetened sparkling flavoured water, hell even a diet coke if you must) and your whole lunch can be 193 calories. Even if you were forced to live within a 1200 calorie restriction this lunch would easily fit into your day. Think the sandwich isn’t filling enough on it’s own? That’s fine. Add 200g of cauliflower (steam it in the microwave or eat it raw either way it’s good). That’s just 50 calories. The running total is now only 243 calories. Not a fan of cauliflower? 100g sugar snap peas is only 41 calories. 200g of Broccoli is 40 calories, 100g brussels sprouts are 36 calories. See the pattern? Pick something you like and pair it up. You could even add a little “dessert” too. Strawberries are amazing, and for only 64 calories you can have 200g of them (that’s 7-10 medium to large sized strawberries). That’s still going to be just 307 calories total. Far less than just the original sandwich from the beginning of the blog, but instead you actually have a meal!!
If you are trying to take a slow, more measured approach, reducing calories in a scaled sort of way to avoid making goals you don’t feel you can reach that’s fine. Let yourself have ONE slice of bacon. Measure your mayo and use 1 TEASPOON. It’s still 43 calories for the bacon and 30 calories for the mayo, which is 73 calories (but that would be enough to let you DOUBLE the deli meat if you wanted to…). I’m not here to judge your methodology. I’m just showing you how WE have done things, hoping that in revealing our thought processes you might be able to find a path that works for you, if you are interested in that kind of thing.
So, what do you say? Isn’t it time to try and give your sandwich a makeover? You know you can be successful right? Don’t you think? Now let’s not live under any delusions. If you are trying to make some headway with aggressive weight loss the mayo and bacon have to go (for now at least). You can have it back once you’ve reached your goal (but only on Sunday mornings). Yes you heard me. The BACON has to go. I’m sorry. It’s my favourite food group too. But it’s just vacation. I’ll try and make it up to you another time ok?
thanks for reading our little blog