Among many of my diet pitfalls is the egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. Sometimes there is nothing more satisfying or comforting to me than a fried egg topped with cheese and bacon and ketchup, sandwiched between a plump bagel. I also love bagels and cream cheese. Realistically, eating either of these everyday isn’t a good option in terms of my diet. However, I do try to incorporate some source of protein into my breakfast because it gets me going better than just a bowl of cereal or toast.
Eggs are a great source of protein, and are pretty versatile. So over the past few months, I started looking for ways to make my breakfast healthier, but still filling. I came up with a few tips that will hopefully help others out there, too. Breakfast sandwiches may have a reputation as being fatty and greasy, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
I came up with 5 things that were preventing my breakfast sandwich from being as healthy as it could be:
1. The bread
2. What I use to grease the pan with
3. The spread
4. The cheese
I revised my ingredients and came up with these substitutions:
1. The first step is to choose the type of bread you’ll be serving your sandwich on. Opt for English muffins (try Thomas’ Triple Health or Health-full 10 Grain) instead of bagels – I absolutely love bagels, but they are unfortunately loaded with carbs and calories. Another option is “sandwich thins”. Arnold and a few other bread companies have been creating bread and bagels that are thinner than average and usually only have 100 calories.
2. What you grease your pan with can make a big difference. I always used to just melt butter in a pan, but this isn’t really the healthiest option. Cooking sprays will save you some calories and many types are fat-free.
3. Next is what kind of spread you use on your breakfast sandwich. Lots of people don’t use a spread at all, but if you hate dry toasted bread like me, then you might be looking for an alternative to butter. I’ve been using a ripe avocado lately in place of butter. Even if you’re not a big fan of avocados, they have a very mild flavor when used in moderation and have a nice, buttery texture. Another option is to very lightly spray the bread with cooking spray.
4. Cheese is probably the fattiest part of my breakfast sandwiches. Again, plenty of people prefer not to use cheese on their sandwiches. I, however, can’t seem to get away from cheese so I’ve been looking for healthier types. Unfortunately there’s a bit of a trade-off with cheese between fat and being very processed. If you find a low-fat/low-calorie cheese, it’s possible it’s been processed a lot. If this isn’t an issue for you, there are plenty of fat-free cheeses in the dairy section at your grocery store. If you prefer to use a less-processed cheese, fresh parmesan, fresh mozzerella, or Swiss cheese are on the healthier end of the cheese spectrum.
5. If you like to use a sauce on your breakfast sandwich, go for hot sauce over ketchup. Ketchup is okay in moderation, but does have a good amount of sugar. A cayenne pepper sauce such as Frank’s RedHot is a good substitute. Sriracha Hot Chili sauce is another option.
*Another important aspect of a breakfast sandwich is how the egg is cooked. The steps above refer only to a fried egg or scrambled egg sandwich. Hard-boiled or poached eggs are the healthiest ways to cook an egg. I tend to not leave myself enough time in the morning to do either of these, but if you do have time, these methods will save you additional calories.
Also, vegetables are great additions to any sandwich. Spinach, peppers, or tomatoes compliment eggs nicely.
Here are some variations on breakfast sandwiches I’ve come up with:
Maintaining a healthy diet is important to me, but I don’t think you have to sacrifice flavor just to lose weight. Remember that there are almost always options out there to make your diet nutritious and satisfying at the same time. 🙂