Make your sandwich spreads healthier using Greek yogurt

Posted Saturday, Sep. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
Pennant picks Show support for your favorite teams by making pennant picks out of large toothpicks and homemade, printed paper logos. Find a logo to use or type your team’s name, keeping the graphic logo about 2 inches wide by 1.5 inches tall. Cut and paste your team’s logo into a word processing document on your computer, leaving room to cut the triangle shape of the pennant. You may be able to program your printer to produce a page of wallet-size color images. I used regular stock white paper, but you can use a card stock to make them even sturdier. Use scissors to cut out the elongated triangle shape of a pennant and then use clear tape to adhere it to the toothpick.
Pesto pine nut Greek yogurt spread for sandwiches Makes enough for 2-3 sandwiches (Double or triple the recipe for a larger crew, as needed.) This is one of the easiest sandwich spreads to make if you are short on time but still want to pack some flavor into sliders and sandwiches. And leftover spread will make a great dip. You can make the pesto mixture from scratch using a favorite recipe, but I like to use ready-made pesto, which is usually found in the Italian sauces section of your grocery store. 2 tablespoons nonfat, plain Greek yogurt 3 teaspoons pesto, or to taste 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 hearty tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts 1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is creamy smooth. 2. Transfer into a serving bowl or small ramekin sauce bowl. Store in an airtight container to keep cool but allow the spread to come to room temperature just before serving. Nutritional analysis per serving, based on 2: 100 calories, 8 grams fat, 3 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 418 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 72 percent of calories from fat.
Creamy roasted red pepper & dill sandwich spread Serves 15-20 people if used as a spread. (Reduce the ingredients to make a smaller batch.) This recipe has the great taste of roasted bell peppers combined with the garden freshness of dill. The feta and cream cheese make the spread extra smooth. You can buy roasted red bell peppers in a jar or you can roast your own in the oven. Make sure you have drained the juices from the peppers before putting them into the dip mixture or your spread will be too watery. 1 heaping teaspoon chopped, fresh dill 1 teaspoon minced garlic (or to taste) 1 jar (12 ounces) roasted red bell peppers, drained well or 2 red peppers, roasted and sliced. 4 ounces low-fat cream cheese 4 ounces feta cheese 1/4 cup fat-free or regular Greek yogurt 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon olive oil Salt to taste 1. Chop the dill and mince garlic cloves; set aside. 2. Drain the peppers using a colander in the sink, then use paper towels to pat dry and get all of the moisture out. 3. Put peppers, dill and minced garlic into a food processor and blend until everything is pureed. Add cream cheese, feta, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and olive oil, and process until well blended. 4. Taste the spread, and add salt as needed. Pulse in the processor one last time if salt is added. The spread will keep in the refrigerator for several days in an air-tight container; let it warm to room temperature and stir before using. Nutritional analysis per serving, based on 15: 47 calories, 3 grams fat, 3 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 11 milligrams cholesterol, 140 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 60 percent of calories from fat.
Avocado crema Makes enough for 2-3 sandwiches. Double or triple the recipe for larger crowds. People may layer on more than they normally would with plain mayonnaise just because this spread is like having fresh avocado on your sandwich, but in a creamy form. Try it also on fish tacos. 1 large Haas avocado (or two small ones) 2 tablespoons nonfat or regular Greek yogurt 2 teaspoons lime juice 1-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro (you can add more to taste) 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts Fresh or canned diced jalapeño pepper to taste (optional) 1. Remove the avocado meat and discard the pit and skin. 2. Place the avocado meat in a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth. Nutritional analysis per serving, based on 2 : 221 calories, 20 grams fat, 10 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, trace cholesterol, 289 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber, 75 percent of calories from fat.
Secret plays The extras make a difference in sandwiches. Some tips for better snacking: • Look for new kinds of chips to serve; the grocery store is brimming with vegetable chips, colorful tortilla chips, even popcorn chips. I used Terra vegetable chips to bring some fall color to the table. Blue corn chips can also be festive. Serve them in a basket. • Bread shouldn’t be boring, either. Try using dinner rolls to make small sandwiches and sliders. They are easier to display and handle at a party, too. Look for nut- or sesame seed-topped rolls and offer a variety in a basket, so people can pick the one they’d like to try. • Delicatessens today offer so many new, flavorful types of meats for sandwiches. I used a peppery roasted chicken, a sliced spicy buffalo chicken and a Parmesan pesto ham for these sandwiches, and they were real crowd-pleasers. • Don’t get cheesy with the cheese. Skip the slimy slices and ask the deli attendant for the latest and greatest flavors; try some samples. You can never go wrong with a lacy Swiss or provolone, but mix in some smoky, marbled or sharp cheddar for visual and taste-bud variety. Don’t have them slice it so thin that it falls apart when you are making the sandwiches.

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What’s a football game without good food served throughout the event, whether it be at a tailgate party or for a pre-game snack or victory feast?

Sandwiches and sliders are easy to serve to a crowd, and they can be a healthier choice than hot dogs and pizza — if you go easy on the high-calorie “extras,” like mayonnaise.

By giving Greek yogurt a place in the ingredient lineup, you can create a lighter yet decadent spread that goes with a variety of foods. Greek yogurt is creamier than regular yogurt and can be lower in fat than the usual mayonnaise. These spreads are easy to make in a small food processor, using a lot of fresh ingredients that will make your hungry crowd cheer.

A useful thing happens when you give these fancier spreads a try. You begin to see the benefits of a basic Greek yogurt base for spreads, which will encourage you to experiment with other vegetables, flavors, herbs and even preserves. The flavors will keep you brainstorming.

Disclaimer: After trying these spreads, the days of a plain ham sandwich with mustard are going to be a thing of the past.

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