If you follow a very low-carb diet because of your diabetes, you may have assumed that sandwiches were off limits for you. And if you are also a vegetarian, you were probably certain that they were out of bounds.
Because a sandwich by definition is a light meal made of two pieces of bread with some filling, it’s got to have far too many carbohydrates for those of us who have diabetes. Eating so much bread would blow up our blood glucose level.
Bread is high-carb
Two slices of the typical whole-wheat bread sold in the United States have 24 grams of carbohydrate, and that’s not counting what we put between the slices. Those two slices alone would provide nearly half of the 50 grams of carbohydrates per day in a very low-carb diet.
Some people substitute one corn tortilla for the two slices of bread. While this would cut the carb load to 11 grams, we have three better options.
The first one I tried was to wrap the filling in a large leaf of lettuce, something that I discovered years ago in a Korean restaurant in Northern California. I understand that some chains also use lettuce wraps.
A second option is to use toasted sushi nori where the only carbs come from fiber. But much more satisfying to my taste buds is holding the filling with a soy wrapper.
The best option
Made from non-GMO soybean protein, these thin wrappers have as little as 1 gram of carbohydrate each. One flavor, sesame, has 2.
The American branch of Yamamotoyama Japan, which Kahei Yamamotoyama established in 1690, markets these useful "Sushi Party Soy Wrappers” here. East Asian markets often carry them, and Yamamotoyama.com as well as Amazon.com offer them online.
But even when you solve the bread problem, what can a low-carb vegetarian put inside the sandwich? We actually have quite a few choices.
My current favorite is a meat substitute for vegetarians called Tofurky. While this tofu that’s jazzed up to taste like turkey only vaguely tastes like the big bird, to me and probably to most of us, it tastes pretty good from the get-go. I add lettuce and sometimes a slice of sweet onion or tomato in season, usually flavored with mustard and mayo, neither of which need to have any carbs.
Some stores sell other meat substitutes, some of which can be high in carbs. But Tofurky is the only one that I’ve checked out so far.
The insides of these healthy sandwiches don’t demand meat substitutes, of course. A big favorite of mine is avocado flavored with garlic salt. Cheese, either on its own or matched with another filling, is also quite satisfying. Some people like a sauerkraut or kimchi sandwich. You are welcomed to share your inventions.
The Earl of Sandwich is credited for inventing sliced bread so he wouldn’t get his hands greasy when he picked up his roast beef. The low-carb vegetarian take on his invention might make him turn over in his grave, but I think that it should actually make him proud.
See more of my articles on how to manage diabetes:
David Mendosa was a journalist who learned in 1994 that he had type 2 diabetes, which he wrote about exclusively. He died in May 2017 after a short illness unrelated to diabetes. He wrote thousands of diabetes articles, two books about it, created one of the first diabetes websites, and published a monthly newsletter, “Diabetes Update.” His very low-carbohydrate diet, A1C level of 5.3, and BMI of 19.8 kept his diabetes in remission without any drugs until his death.