Joco Diversions

Eating for life: Keep the panini, but lose the calories, sodium and saturated fat

Paninis are fast food’s newest pop stars.

But are they popping the waistlines of their adoring fans?

The Italian-style pressed sandwich is on the breakfast menu at Wendy’s, and its website calculates the sodium content at 900 milligrams. Panera’s paninis are fine for lunch or dinner, if you can spare as much as 860 calories, 39 grams of fat and more than 2,000 milligrams of sodium.

The Star’s Canadian BLT Breakfast Panini trims the calories, saturated fat and sodium typically found in the fast-food versions. Enjoy low-fat Canadian bacon, scrambled egg substitute and low-fat cheese on whole-grain bread. Add veggies, and you have a trim and tasty sandwich that is versatile enough it can easily take center stage for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Alternative cooking tip:

If a panini press is not available, preheat a skillet or griddle over medium high heat. Grill sandwiches about 2 to 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. If desired, place a heavy skillet on top of the sandwiches to weight them down as they cook.

Pump it up:

Paninis are a smart way to add vegetables to a diet. For example, sauté chopped red or green bell pepper or onions with the mushrooms. Or, if desired, add 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped, drained, roasted red pepper to each sandwich.