Be honest: How often do you eat your veggies? If you’re like most adults, you could probably stand to consume more of them. In a 2013 CDC report, 22.6% of adults confessed to eating vegetables less than once a day. However, the USDA recommends that adults up to age 50 have 2 ½ cups (women) or 3 cups (men) per day—and even more for those who exercise more than 30 minutes a day.
Boost your own veggie intake by starting with a sandwich makeover. You might think you need meat to complete those bread slices, but vegetables pack more vitamins and minerals to help your body stay strong. These eight tasty creations are proof enough.
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Pressed Sandwich with Roasted Eggplant
Between mozzarella and basil leaves, eggplant tastes just heavenly. But this purple veggie is more than just a beautyit's also a good source of fiber. Just make sure you leave the skinsthat’s where the nutrients are most concentrated.
Instead of a BLT, try a healthier "ALT" by swapping out bacon for avocado. Avocado boasts heart-healthy monounsaturated fat as well as fiber to keep you full. Meanwhile, tomato is rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that protects your cells from free radicals, and romaine lettuce is chock-full of vitamin A, another powerful antioxidant that's important for eye health.
For a south-of-the-border meal without the fat often present in Mexican recipes, try these colorful veggie fajitas. Yellow squash and red bell pepper add a sweet taste and a dose of the antioxidant beta-carotene, the pigment that gives vegetables their color.
Ingredients: Zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, red onion, vegetable soup and dip mix, olive oil, flour tortillas, fat-free refried beans, leaf lettuce, reduced-fat cheddar cheese, tomato, salsa
Cheddar and American are the more popular cheese choices at the sandwich counter, but goat cheese is a better bet. The stronger flavor means you'll feel satisfied with less, not to mention that an ounce of goat cheese is lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol than cheeses made from cow's milk. That combined with the nutrient-rich eggplant makes this sandwich an all-around win for keeping your health in check.
Your stomach certainly won’t be grumbling after finishing this panini, which has 18 grams of protein to keep hunger and cravings in check. Spinach and red onions also give the sandwich a satisfying crunch.
Ingredients: Butter, mushrooms, mustard, whole wheat bread, spinach, red bell peppers, onion, Gruyère cheese
If you haven’t heard of the bánh mì, it’s a tangy Vietnamese sandwich with pickled carrots, paté, sliced pork, cilantro and jalapeños on a baguette. Removing the meat in this vegetarian recipe doesn't sacrifice flavor: creamy avocado and crunchy cucumbers more than make up for it.
Ingredients: Carrot, sugar, salt, white vinegar, hearts of palm, extra-virgin olive oil, lime juice, baguette, cucumbers, avocado, pickle slices, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro
Grilled country bread is topped with part-skim ricotta, a garlic-and-oil vinaigrette, andbest partyour choice of freshly grilled veggies. Our favorites: eggplant, zucchini, red bell peppers, and tomatoes.
Combine creamy goat cheese and fresh mint, then spread it onto wraps and top with roasted red bell peppers for a refreshing and light lunch. Add leafy greens to the wrap, like spinach or dinosaur kale, for an even bigger nutritional boost.
Ingredients: Goat cheese, mint, spinach tortillas, red bell peppers, salt