Tuesday, July 27, 2010

SUB-stitute This!

Sandwich shops are one of the most popular lunch restaurants because they are fast and widely accepted. Traditionally, most of them served the common cold cut options with several choices of toppings- usually creating a fairly healthy meal. Today, there are many more sandwich types, as each restaurant aims to dominate the competition. Now you can order a sub with meatballs, pizza toppings, triple meat, fried chicken, or steak. For customer satisfaction, many places offer up to 50 condiment options, including creamy dressings and mayonnaise-based sauces. As it has become harder to decide what to order, it has also become more difficult to manage weight loss or weight maintenance while eating sandwiches regularly. Some sandwich chains have started offering lower calorie and lower fat options for consumers that are looking for healthier lifestyle. Those options are usually the more simple, smaller sandwiches. Often the specialty sandwiches are of the highest calorie count. For example, the popular Subway Meatball Marinara 6 inch sub contains 580 calories and 23g of fat. Therefore the footlong packs in 1160 calories and 46g of fat. Many other restaurants that are marketed as "healthier" choices, serve sandwiches with over 1000 calories; While they may have some healthy selections, check the nutrition information because not all sandwiches are created equal.

In order to make a healthier version of the meatball sub sandwich, I first swapped ground beef for 93% lean ground turkey. I added plenty of herbs and spices so that the meat swap does not cause any loss of flavor. Typically I prefer to cook with 97-99% lean ground turkey breast, but the meatballs need a little more fat to hold them together and to create a juicy, succulent bite. Many people do not realize how many calories come from the bread that a sandwich is served on, not to mention the amount of carbs. To drastically reduce these stats, I chose to serve the meatballs on light wheat hot dog buns, that add only 70 calories. I used my homemade marinara sauce that I also used for my lasagna recipe to create the perfect splash of tomato flavor. Just like with the lasagna, you can substitute store bought marinara sauce if you are short on time, but the flavor just does not compare. You can make the meatballs and sauce and store them in the refrigerator so that you can just add them to the hotdog bun for a quick lunch or dinner. The buns can also be toasted if you need a little more support for the meatball filling. The meatballs contain parmesan cheese in them but you can add some fat-free mozzarella cheese to your sandwich for the complete experience. If you look closely in my pictures above, you might see a few green specs. Those happen to be diced jalapenos. While I am not a fan, the boyfriend believes the spicier the better so if you are up for the heat, toss some hot peppers in the meatball mixture and the sauce. You might have started to notice the trend of my boyfriend's recipe evaluations frequenting my blog posts. Many of these recipes have been selected for my blog based on his current cravings. He got the meatballs this week to have for his lunch because he bought me the cutest little kitchen gadget, a meatball scooper. He knows if I have a new cooking tool, he is bound to get whatever he asks for as long as I get to play with my new toy. As far as flavor goes, I have only been told that these make for the best meatball sub you will ever try. The best meatball sub you will ever try...and it is low in calories and fat? If you don't believe it is possible- try it for yourself!

Meatball Marinara Sub
serves 6

1.3 lbs 93% lean ground turkey
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup Reggiano Parmigiano cheese, grated
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 egg
1/2 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
recipe for Homemade Tomato Sauce (below) or
2 26 oz. jars marinara sauce
6 light wheat hot dog buns
1 1/2 cups shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese (optional)

  1. Prepare recipe for Homemade Tomato Sauce and continue to simmer on low or pour jar marinara sauce into a large pot and heat on a low simmer.
  2. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, onion, garlic, and Reggiano Parmigiano cheese.
  3. Using your clean hands, mix all the ingredients until combined. 
  4. Form small meatballs, about the size of a ping pong ball.
  5. Spray a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Add the meatballs and saute until browned on all sides.
  6. When brown, add the meatballs to the sauce and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. Spoon about 5 meatballs on each hot dog buns, top with extra sauce and 2 tbsp mozzarella cheese if desired.
Homemade Tomato Sauce

2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp Splenda or sweetener of choice
1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  1. In a large pot, saute onion and garlic until onion is soft and garlic turn golden (not brown).
  2. Empty tomatoes and then all other ingredients into pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer for 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on time available. 
Nutrition: (one sub, on light wheat hot dog bun with homemade tomato sauce, no cheese)
302 calories, 27g carbohydrate, 28g protein, 12g fat, 6g fiber


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About Lauren


Nutrition student with a passion for giving yummy recipes a healthy make-over. Future RD on a constant search for the best food finds. And new blogger trying to relay my tasty ideas to everyone else.

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