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Paleo Sandwich Shop

By Stephanie Vuolo, B.A.
October 5, 2015

What’s for lunch? For at least 49% of the U.S., it’s a sandwich. The common sandwich components, such as yeasted grain breads, cheese, and cured meats, are among the top contributors not only to sodium (accounting for at least one-fifth of the total daily sodium intake), but also to excess caloric consumption in the diets of adult Americans.1 Fortunately, the Paleo diet avoids the sandwich components that are added sodium-rich and offer empty nutrients.

There’s no disputing that whether you are pack a lunchbox or grab a quick bite on your lunch hour, sandwiches are popular because they are quick-and-easy. Subscribing to the Paleo diet doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy convenience or the flavor profiles offered at your favorite deli. Check out our ideas for ways to turn your pre-Paleo favorite into a new Paleo staple.

Let’s start on the outside and explore the options for keeping the contents of your sandwich together. You can use any of these Paleo wrap ideas for a variety of classic fillings, such as Paleo chicken salad, ground bison burgers, or to reinvent last night’s leftover roast beef.

Leafy Greens

Large, flat green leaves make excellent wrappers for all kinds of fillings – such as tacos, burgers, or Asian-style lettuce cups. Collard greens can be lightly steamed so that a tight wrap can be made, while Swiss chard and romaine both work well in their raw form.

Grilled vegetable slabs

Portobello mushrooms, eggplant slices, and bell peppers can be grilled or lightly roasted to create a solid platform that supports the inside of your sandwich. Although, you may find that these are neater to eat with a fork and knife.

Cauliflower “Bread”

The Real Paleo Diet Cookbook has a recipe for Cauliflower Cups made using a muffin tin, this recipe can be transformed by baking as a flatbread in the oven on a parchment lined backing sheet. It could be topped with roasted tomatoes and eggplant and a drizzle of olive oil and makes an impressive open-faced vegetable sandwich.

We have recreated many classic sandwich options below with the same hearty taste and flavors, but reinvented into healthy Paleo diet compliant versions.

The Paleo Nut Butter & Jelly

With or without the crust, peanut butter (a legume) is not part of the Paleo Diet. Fortunately, other spreads, such as sunflower seed or almond butter, are available to layer between thinly sliced apples or pears to replicate the flavor and convenience of this kid-friendly staple. Serve with a side of dehydrated beet chips.

The Paleo Chicken Parmesan

Combine grilled chicken thighs with your favorite dairy-free Paleo pesto, such as a puree of basil, kale, toasted pine nuts, and olive oil. Top with sun-dried tomatoes and sautéed shiitake mushrooms and set on a large romaine lettuce leaf for added crunch. Serve with crispy, oven roasted, thin slices of zucchini.

The Paleo Cuban Sandwich

There’s no Paleo substitute for cheese, but in our take of this traditional Latin dish you won’t miss it. Melt in your mouth warm, citrus marinated, grilled, pork shoulder butt (blade roast), combined with Paleo Dijon-style mustard, sliced cucumbers, shredded raw purple cabbage, and avocado served on butter lettuce leaves. Served with a side of homemade plantain chips cooked in coconut oil.

The Paleo Bánh mì

There’s a lot of variation with the type of protein used to make a Bánh mì. However, the key is to find the proper balance between the spice, crunch, and tang of this Vietnamese recipe. Start with Paleo mayo (recipe available in The Paleo Diet Cookbook), thinly sliced jalapeno peppers, cilantro, minced garlic, julienne carrots and cucumber, with roasted pork belly, and a smear of dairy-free chicken liver pâté. Tuck the ingredients onto a Belgian endive leaf.

The Paleo Turkey Sandwich

The best part of Thanksgiving is making a leftover turkey sandwich. Thinly slice the roasted breast meat, top with a dollop of tangy, homemade cranberry relish, and serve between two sweet potato pancakes. Serve with a side of roasted Brussels sprout chips.

What’s your favorite Paleo sandwich combination? Post ‘em below!


[1] Sebastian, Rhonda S., et al. "Sandwiches Are Major Contributors of Sodium in the Diets of American Adults: Results from What We Eat in America, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009-2010." Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 115.2 (2015): 272-277.

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