Sandwich Counter Savvy

Featured Article, Healthy Recipes and Nutrition, Nutrition
on June 5, 2014
healthy sandwich tips

No doubt, you or someone you know eats at a sandwich shop at least once each week. Whether it’s Panera, Au bon Pain, Subway, or your local mom-and-pop place, sandwich-makers adorn practically every corner. And, since these hand-held treats are a dietary staple, beware what’s nestled between the bread. At every joint, there are great and not-so-great items on the menu. What’s the best bread? The worst? How about meats, cheeses, salads, and condiments?

Panera Bread


Take Panera, for example. Their chicken Caesar on 3-cheese bread has 730 calories, 32 grams of fat and 1,260 mg of sodium. But that’s not the most gluttonous. Their Frontega Chicken on focaccia has 800 calories, 32 grams of fat and 2,090 mg of sodium (your entire day’s worth of salt in one sandwich). And with 800 calories, plan on walking 2.5 hours (at 4 MPH) to burn that sandwich off. I’m not bashing Panera – I love the place. In fact, they dish up a mean Smoked Turkey Breast on Country Bread with almost half the calories of the aforementioned focaccia (440 calories) and a fraction of the fat (3.5 grams). The sodium is still high (1,790 mg), which ALL comes from the turkey and bread, not the lettuce, tomato and black pepper. You can’t do anything about the salty turkey, but swap Honey Wheat bread for Country and you’ll dodge 300 mg of sodium. For their entire menu, click here.



Next stop, Subway. Their bread varieties range from 47 to 87 calories and 1.5 to 6 grams of fat; not a big range. But when you compare sodium, you jump from 180 mg to 1,240 mg! Why the big leap? Their 6-inch roasted garlic bread reigns supreme in the salt category, containing over HALF of your days recommended max (without any fillings or condiments). Sodium aside, their healthiest meats are Black Forest ham, chicken breast, roast beef, and turkey breast which all add about 200-250 calories to the sandwich. But order their chicken or tuna salad and that number more than doubles. Click here to review all of Subway’s sandwich and condiment numbers.

Au Bon Pain


Let’s walk on over to Au Bon Pain, and talk fiber. Their Sprouted Whole Grain Roll, Ciabatta and Country White Bread all have 230 calories, but the sprouted roll has 7 grams of fiber compared to 2 grams in the other options. As is the case with the other two places, the turkey, roast beef and chicken are the best options. But watch out for their Mediterranean sandwich. A Mediterranean diet is supposed to be healthy, right? Not when one sandwich has 610 calories, 31 grams of fat and 1,300 mg of sodium. Again, they have plenty of other items to choose from, all equally fabulous. For more menu options, click here.

Don’t hit the major chains in your town? No problem, this little lesson was designed to help you navigate the sandwich counter with a little panache. When you know what bread to choose and what to put between the slices, you can dodge unnecessary calories, fat and sodium while creating a satisfying, mouth-watering sandwich.


Whole Wheat Bread: 150-250 calories, 2g fat

Whole Grain Baguette: 140-350 calories, 1-5g fat

Flatbread: 150-200 calories, 4g fat

Bread with Cheese Baked in (cheddar, parmesan): 250-450 calories, 6g fat

Whole Grain Bagel: 340 calories, 3g fat

Ciabatta: 150-450 calories, 2-6g fat

Focaccia: 180-470 calories, 5-12g fat

Tortilla Wrap: 280 calories, 1-7g fat

Meat (3 ounces):

Turkey Breast: 106 calories, 3g fat

Ham: 90 calories, 2g fat

Chicken Breast (grilled/roasted/baked): 100 calories, 2g fat

Roast Beef: 176 calories, 9g fat

Tuna Salad: 221 calories, 16g fat

Chicken Salad: 213 calories, 17g fat

Egg Salad: 200 calories, 15g fat

Cheese: (1 ounce)

Cheddar: 120 calories, 10g fat

Swiss: 100 calories, 9g fat

American: 80 calories, 7g fat

Pepper jack: 100 calories, 8g fat

Provolone: 100 calories, 8g fat

Shredded Monterey jack and cheddar blend: 100 calories, 9g fat


Mayonnaise (1 Tbsp): 110 calories, 12g fat

Mayonnaise-based spreads, such as chipotle mayo (1 Tbsp): 110 calories, 12g fat

Mustard, Yellow and Deli Brown (2 tsp): 5 calories, 0g fat

Honey Mustard (2 tsp): 30 calories, 0g fat

Ranch Dressing (2 Tbsp): 150 calories, 16g fat

Pesto (1 Tbsp): 80 calories, 7.5g fat

Lettuce: (1/4 cup): 2 calories, 0g fat

Baby spinach leaves (1/4 cup): 2 calories, 0g fat

Tomato slices (3): 5 calories, 0g fat

Peppers (sweet and hot): 5 calories, 0g fat

Pickles (5 rounds): 34 calories, 0g fat

Olives (2 large, sliced): 14 calories, 1g fat

Robin Miller

Robin Miller has been a TV personality, food writer and nutritionist since 1990 and she is the author of ten books, including Robin Takes 5 for Busy FamiliesRobin Takes 5, and the bestselling cookbook Quick Fix Meals. Her popular show, “Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller” aired on Food Network for 5 years and she has multiple weekly blogs, Robin’s Healthy Take, on “Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller” is currently airing on Great American Country Channel. You can view her website at: