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10-Second Recipes: Spice Up Your Sandwiches

(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)

By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate

It's back-to-school time and, if you're already bored with all of the lunch sandwiches you're preparing for your kids, maybe it's time to spice up your own! Seasoning (whether through fresh or dried herbs) is a split-second way to improve your offerings. Steal the special sandwiches for yourself or, if you have a kidlet with an adventurous palate, let him in on the treats as well.

Italian hero or submarine sandwiches often incorporate spices and flavorful condiments, such as oil and vinegar, as do other ethnic sandwiches. Popular national sandwich chain shops, where customers pick their own accompaniments, also have jumped on the bandwagon. However, there's no reason plain old homemade standbys, such as turkey, ham, chicken, tuna --- or even peanut butter and jelly --- can't benefit from the same philosophy.

Researchers, for instance, have often named turmeric (an Indian herb in the ginger family) as one of the world's healthiest foods. I recently paired the dried spice in a turkey breast sandwich with garlic, citrus and cumin, as suggested in "8 of the World's Healthiest Spices," a roundup in Eating Well magazine. Although spices can go directly onto your sandwich's protein source, I like to secure them even further and increase the richness of the sandwich by using them as a topping for a base I've slathered on my bread, like reduced-fat mayonnaise, Dijon mustard or fat-free French dressing. All ingredients below are to taste.

Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for creating homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!

Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since these are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations. They can't help but draw "wows" from family members and guests.

    Spread 2 slices of sourdough bread with reduced-fat mayonnaise, sprinkle generously with dried turmeric, cumin and minced garlic. To 1 slice of bread, add thinly sliced cooked turkey breast, a spritz of fresh lemon juice and arugula and top with second prepared slice of bread.

    Toast 2 slices of pumpernickel bread. Spread with Dijon mustard and sprinkle with dried dill. Top 1 slice of bread with thin slices of cooked ham, diced sweet gherkin pickles and minced red onion and top with second prepared slice of bread.

    Split a croissant almost in half, spread with fat-free French dressing, and sprinkle with a dash of cayenne pepper, ground ginger, ground cloves and freshly ground black pepper. Add thinly sliced cooked chicken breast and thinly sliced Roma tomatoes.

    In a bowl, prepare drained, flaked tuna fish from a can with a dash of extra-virgin olive oil, dried tarragon and a dash of chili powder. Split a pita pocket and line with spinach leaves, add diced red bell pepper and tuna mixture.

    In a bowl, mix well peanut butter (or other nut butter) with curry powder and minced crystallized ginger. Toast 2 slices of rye bread. Spread 1 slice of bread with a thin layer of the peanut butter and preferably orange marmalade (or jam or jelly of choice) and top with second prepared slice of bread.

QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK: Vegans sometimes are not only healthier inside, but outside as well. Skin, hair and other body parts might not just get a boost from a nutritious diet, but from treatments that are prepared without any animal products. That's the good news from vegan beauty blogger Sunny Subramanian and Chrystle Fiedler in The Compassionate Chick's Guide to DIY Beauty. And there's no reason guys who like DIY projects (and glowing skin) might not flock to some of these 125 Recipes for Vegan, Gluten-Free, Cruelty-Free Makeup, Skin and Hair Products (the book's subtitle) as well. The fun here can range from anything from Flaxseed Hair-Styling Goop, to Rosemary-Mint Anti-Frizz Serum, to Just-Glow-With-It Spinach Smoothie Facial Mask. Bonuses: A number of the recipes, as is, if noted by the authors, or with a few added ingredients they recommend, are delicious and nutritious taste treats, too.

Lisa Messinger  at Creators Syndicate is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet(Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on

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