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Life in Balance: Sandwiches make a quick, easy and nutritious meal

Published: Tuesday, April 24 2012 5:58 p.m. MDT

Dian Thomas' version of a lean Philly steak sandwich.

Dian Thomas,

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Sandwiches are my mainstay when I need a fast meal. The varieties are endless.

As I was finishing my home economics degree from Brigham Young University, I needed one core class to fill my foods requirement. I selected an International Foods class. To my surprise it was my favorite class I took in college.

Not long after that I went to Europe where I visited the Scandinavian countries and was amazed by the variety and number of sandwiches that can be prepared.

What I remember was getting a menu that must have had more than 100 different sandwiches! There, making sandwiches is an art.

For me they are a fast and healthy meal. The healthy choices for the base seem almost endless: a slice of multi-grain bread, flat bread, wraps, half bagel, corn tortillas or a whole grain cracker make a delicious start.

My most favorite vegetable to go on my base would be half of a medium avocado. Add just a dash of salt and I am in heaven.

Leftover lean meat can also be a great start.

When I am really in a hurry, I go for a half can of small salmon with a little no-fat Miracle Whip.

If you go with the no-fat Miracle Whip you will get the flavor but not the calories of the regular kind. There are only 15 calories in the no-fat compared to 60 in the regular dressing. If you look at the label on regular mayonnaise, it can be as high as 110 calories per tablespoon.

Other meats that will be lean and good are white chicken, eye of the round, flank and rump roast, lean pork and fish.

If time is not a factor, I love to have grilled or roasted vegetables. The flavor they add is sensational.

When I traveled so much promoting my camping books, Philadelphia was a frequent stop. One of my favorites in Philadelphia was a Philly Steak Sandwich. I knew at the time that they were loaded with calories. When I started to lean out my food I decided I did not want to give up a delicious Philly sandwich so here is my lean version.

Steak Sandwich

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, diced

4 ounces lean steak, thinly sliced

5 small sweet bell peppers or 1/2 large bell pepper

1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced

1/2 large whole-wheat roll

2 tablespoons hard cheese, grated

In a skillet, heat oil. Add onions and cook until tender. Add steak and cook until browned. Add peppers and sauté, then add mushroom and cook until done. Place on roll and top with grated cheese.

Serves 1.

Dian Thomas' new book "Tipping the Scales in Your Favor," is now available at retail outlets and on her website at www.DianThomas.com. A video by BYU on her weight-loss journey is also on her website.

Tips for sandwiches

Here are a few tips to help in preparing sandwiches:

1. Toast the bread, which I think brings out the flavor and adds texture to the sandwich.

2. Leftover grilled vegetables and lean meats are great on sandwiches.

3. Greens of all kind can be the topping of the sandwich.

4. Eggs can be another fast and easy choice. When I buy a dozen eggs I hard boil six of the eggs. On the top of the egg, I put an H for hard and an R for raw.

5. I like to have three raw vegetables with each sandwich. Some of my favorites are carrots, celery and spinach.

6. To cut down on the calories, use one slice of bread.