That's a Wrap

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For many of us, lunch consists of sliced turkey, a squirt of mustard and a handful of iceberg lettuce on two pieces of bread. Healthy, sort of. Boring, definitely! A lot more fun than most ho-hum sandwiches, wraps done right are delicious, satisfying and nutritious fare. Avoid the extra calories that your lunchtime sandwich serves or the sugar high from your favorite smoothie by choosing a wrap. This guide shows you how to break free from the usual plain-Jane wraps by using creative ingredients packed with nutrition and taste.

Bundle Up

A nutritious wrap begins with a healthy shell. Here are your best bets for covering your next creation.
 
WHOLE-GRAIN TORTILLAS Nosh on more whole grains and reap the rewards--higher fiber intake and reduced risk for diabetes, heart ailments and weight gain--by using tortillas with whole wheat or spelt listed as the first ingredient. Try Wrap-itz 100% Whole Wheat Wraps (wrapitz.com), La Tortilla Factory Organic Whole Wheat & Brown Rice Wraps (latortillafactory.com) or French Meadow Healthy Hemp Tortillas (frenchmeadow.com).

RICE PAPER Glean inspiration from the Vietnamese--fine rice paper makes for light and fresh summer rolls. Find them at many Asian markets. To use, immerse paper one at a time in a shallow baking pan of hot water for roughly 10 seconds or until the paper begins to soften. Lay each sheet on a paper towel and let stand until it becomes soft and pliable.

LEAFY GREENS Large leafy lettuce such as romaine, Boston bibb and Swiss chard are sturdy enough to house everything from crab salad to diced tofu. Plus, you save some calories and take in extra nutrients from these green giants.

Stuff It

Try these five nutritious, palate-pleasing base ingredients and accompaniments to create wraps worth sinking your teeth into.

ALMOND BUTTER A peanut butter alternative that's also high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, bone-strengthening calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, almond butter is lower in sugar and hydrogenated fats than most commercial brands of the stand-by favorite.

Wrap with:
Apple butter, sweet, but better for you than sugary jam.

Sunflower seeds, bursting with vitamin E, an antioxidant that can protect against seasonal allergies and sun skin damage. 

RICOTTA CHEESE While milk curd is used to make most cheeses, ricotta is produced from whey, a superior-quality protein that repairs and builds lean body mass. A half cup of this lasagna staple also delivers a third of the calcium you need daily.

Wrap with:
Cinnamon, containing polyphenol, a naturally occurring plant compound which acts as an antioxidant to help reduce blood fat and sugar levels.

Walnuts, with 10 times more good-for-you omega-3 fats than any other nut. Chomping on a few nuts regularly may cut your risk of gaining weight by 30 percent, a study in the journal Obesity reports.

SMOKED SALMON There are plenty of reasons to swap deli meats for smoked salmon--large amounts of omega-3 fats provide a bevy of health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's and depression.

Wrap with:
Broccoli sprouts, with big flavor and enzymes that subdue cancer-causing chemicals.

Dijon mustard, adding flavor with virtually no calories. The same can't be said for mayo or cream cheese.

TEMPEH Made of fermented soybeans, tempeh has a bit of a nutty taste with a firm texture. Plus, it's chock-full of protein, iron, copper, potassium, manganese, magnesium and beneficial bacteria that can improve digestive health. Cook it like you would any piece of chicken or steak.

Wrap with:
Avocado, loaded with cholesterol-reducing monounsaturated fat, folate, vitamin K and potassium, which helps to reduce blood pressure.

Portobello mushrooms, which may enhance your immune system, reports a study in the Journal of Nutrition.
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