How the world has changed for vegans and wannabe vegans over the last twenty years! As more people turn toward plant-based eating, food manufacturers have created an expanding universe of choices. Take sandwiches, for instance, who would have imagined the health, flavour and excitement you can find between two pieces of bread. It all comes to down to having the best recipes for your vegan sandwich filling.
Building Your Sandwich
The best sandwiches include a variety of textures and flavors. The healthiest sandwiches cover all your macro-nutrient bases with protein, healthy carbs and healthy fats. Whether you want a healthy lunch or a tasty snack, this array of sandwich fillers should have you covered. So let’s begin with the three key elements of a tasty sandwich: bread, protein filler, and additional elements (veggies, fruits, and sauces).
Start, of course, with great bread, your “good” carbs — like Dave’s Killer Bread, Angelic Bakehouse or an old stand-by, Ezekiel Bread from Food for Life. If you’re looking for gluten-free, try Schär, Warburtons or Genius.
The Protein Filler
Next, choose your protein. Here’s one area where we now have a boatload of options. Here are five to get you started:
- Nut butters. Of course there is peanut butter, well-known, well-loved and readily available everywhere. But don’t stop there. Try almond butter, cashew, hazelnut, walnut and more. You’ll get protein from your nut butter and a good dose of fiber as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals. Nut butters should be vegan and even palm oil free, just ground nuts with their own oil and a little salt, possibly a little added oil for texture.
- Hummus. Hummus refers to “chickpeas,” and that’s what true hummus is made from. It might have added ingredients for flavor or color (even beets for a beautiful magenta hummus) – but the base is always chickpeas. And chickpeas are not only a great source of protein but have excellent fiber content and their own distinctive array of vitamins and minerals. Of course, you can make your own – but always keep some in your pantry so you can make up a sandwich in a hurry. Go for Sabra. So good. And so much variety. Sometimes Hummus may have non-vegan ingredients (rarely), so whatever brand you choose, be sure to check in with Clickerance for help making your selections.
- Plant-based “meat”. Beyond Meat is in the UK at Tesco and other local stores as well as on the Beyond Meat site and on Amazon. It is awesome for taste, seasoning and texture. Beyond Burgers, Spicy Italian Sausage, and Beyond Mince (introduced to the UK in 2018) are perfect for making a whole variety of “sandwiches.” Well, strictly speaking, burgers are round and sausages are long and mince is crumbled (think Sloppy Joe) – but whether on sandwich-style square cuts of bread or on round buns or long buns, you’re still eating something wonderful between two pieces of bread. Angelic Bakehouse makes good hot dog and burger buns, but for burgers try Dave’s English Muffins – the whole grain variety. Oh my.
- Falafel. A Middle Eastern favorite, falafel is sometimes made with fava beans and sometimes with chickpeas. Either way, the beans are soaked to soften, not cooked, which gives them a delicious, crunchy texture when they are fried up into those yummy little balls and dropped into a pita pocket or used in a western-style sandwich between two slices of bread. When falafel are fresh from a fryer, they are soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside and easier to eat in a pita pocket or wrap or sandwich if you squash them a bit with a fork. Commercial falafel come pre-cooked and may take a little experimentation, and you may even choose not to heat them – just enjoy them as part of your sandwich straight from their packaging. Still squashed a little for ease of eating, though. Falafel are traditionally vegan and gluten-free, but these eight brands available in the UK and rated by Good Housekeeping require either a label check or a run through Clickerance
- Hodo Tofu Hodo Foods makes tofu products, and boy, do they ever! This is simply the best tofu ever anywhere. It’s organic, rich, always extra firm so it doesn’t require pressing, and with a simple rinse out of the package and quick-dry with a piece of paper towel, you can pan roast it easily and beautifully. It is like no other tofu and is…well, addictive. In some homes, it quite often doesn’t make it from pan roasting into the meal for which it was intended. One story writer for Bon Appétit calls it “The Mail-Order Tofu That Changed Our Soybean-Loving Lives.” If you have ever eaten Sofritas at Chipotle in the UK, you have enjoyed Hodo firm tofu. “Sofritas has…been available in the UK since 2018. Chipotle served up a total of 7.5 million pounds of braised tofu that year, all supplied by California’s Hodo Foods.
- Yuba. What is Yuba? It’s the best of the best. “It’s the top-layer goodness,” hand-skimmed after warming super creamy organic soy milk. It comes packaged in sheets. Hodo products are made from whole, organic soybeans and purified water. They are non-GMO and gluten-free. You can watch Hodo’s fascinating process HERE, including a snippet that shows a line cook frying folded sheets of Yuba for sandwiches. Hodo Foods products may be tricky to find in local stores in the UK for use in your own sandwiches. Don’t despair though! You can buy directly from Hodo Foods own Online Shop and other online retailers.
- Vegan cheese. Uh oh. Can’t get hold of Hodo products yet? Here’s a bonus vegan sandwich filler idea to substitute for Hodo Foods. Myoko offers Cultured Farmhouse Cheddar that makes a great grilled cheese sandwich. Her vegan mozzarella works well for a pizza (let’s call that an “open-face sandwich”). Just get yourself some Food for Life Ezekiel Bread Prophet’s Pockets or if you’re gluten-free, try Bfree Multi-grain Pita Pockets.
Additional Sandwich Elements
Now comes the fun part, your fruit, veggie and sauce additions. Of course, you can make up delicious sauces and salads at home, simple Middle Eastern additions to the falafel sandwich like Jerusalem Salad (a mix of tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, onion and cilantro seasoned with tahini sauce) or red cabbage slaw (red cabbage, red onion, cilantro, lemon, vegan mayo or olive oil, salt and hot paprika). These items work equally well topping a burger or Yuba sandwich. If you feel like getting out your knife and going to work on fresh veggies, great! But if not, here are some commercial mix-and-match items. Just try to add a little something fresh, even a bit of lettuce, greens, some onion, avocado, tomato, or fresh fruit slices to anything you make:
- Jams and jellies (to eat with nut butters or add a little sweetness to an otherwise savory mix of sandwich ingredients)
- Dried fruit slices
- Sliced olives (check out Galil Green Olive Rings)
- Pickle relish
- Pickled turnips
- Sauerkraut (many varieties available through Amazon)
Here are a few sauce ideas:
- Vegan mayonnaise. Many choices here. Hellmann’s makes a good one.
- Chipotle vegan mayonnaise. Add chipotle seasoning to taste to your favorite vegan mayonnaise.
- Avocado “sauce,” a new product from Sabra. It’s called guacamole but is closer to a sauce consistency.
- Pizza sauce
These additional sandwich elements are where you can really have some fun, discovering unique combinations that will make your vegan sandwiches stand out.
There you have it, 5 (well, maybe 6) awesome vegan sandwich fillers to spice up your lunch time. Vary these protein fillers in hundreds of ways just by changing out your bread, sauces, salads or fresh fruits and veggies.
Now Set Up Your Vegan Sandwich Pantry
The first step is to check out Clickerance, an online label checker online for your food allergies and preferences. It will save a lot of time and confusion with tedious label reading, letting you know the items that are perfect for you and your family.
Clickerance is free and fast to add as an extension to your browser. Just let us know your and your household’s dietary requirements, restrictions, or preferences, and we’ve got the rest! That includes letting you know what you can and can’t have as you shop — and offering helpful suggestions for alternatives. Visit Clickerance.com to learn more.