03/25/2012 11:15 am ET Updated May 23, 2012

The Anatomy of a Healthy Sandwich

Warm breeze, longer days, a calendar full of picnics and BBQs -- it's officially springtime! With all these obligations, it can be nerve-wracking to try to stick to your diet. These events can be filled with creamy potato salad, pies, mile-high sandwiches, you name it.

There is still room for the almighty sandwich in your life (and your stomach). You just have to be smart about it. So get out your checkered tablecloth, find your best basket and strap on your sundress.

Here are some guidelines to making the most out of this classic picnic staple.

The bread:

Before you quiver in fear and run for the solace of the salad bar, let me explain. Following a healthy eating plan doesn't mean that you can't eat bread. Although my book is called Bread is the Devil, I'll be this first to say that not all bread is bad.

Ciabatta, pumpernickel, rye... The possibilities are endless! No matter how you slice it: Whole wheat or rye is the best option. You'll also have to forgo anything bigger than a typical piece of bread.

There is no reason a sandwich should be named after a submerged sea vessel.

Don't be fooled by the enticing allure of wraps. Most are nutritional wannabes, racking up 300-500 calories full of refined grains and oil. Choose La Tortilla fiber and flax corn tortillas. They clock in at a measly 45 calories, yet have five grams of fiber.

Sandwich spreads:

Aioli, chipotle mayo, and pesto are not your friends. Despite these condiments being offered on every sandwich menu known to man, they equal major calories -- as much as 200-400!

I love a tasty schmear as much as the next girl, but there are smarter choices than these sinful spreads. Opt for items such as mustard, relish, pickles, hot sauce or a lite soy sauce. If you're still craving a creamy addition to your sandwich, use a Laughing Cow Light cheese wedge instead. They come in varieties such as queso fresco chipotle and sundried tomato basil, which give your sandwich instant flavor for only 35 calories.

In between the bread:

Most would say this is the part that really matters.

There are so many things that you can make a sandwich out of, it's easy to get deterred. Grilled chicken and turkey are typical healthy options, though it doesn't have to stop at that. Try roasted vegetables (such as eggplant and zucchini) that have been marinated overnight in balsamic vinegar topped with one slice of Alpine Lace Swiss cheese.

Or change it up with mixing canned salmon (Did you know it's always wild Alaskan?) with low-fat mayo, celery seed and chopped onions. It's a top-notch alternative to typical tuna or chicken. And who can resist a classic PB&J?

When spread on GG Bran crackers with Justin's Nut Butter, you have a healthy alternative to a lunchroom standard.

Bottom line:

Sandwiches can still be a part of your life and don't let anyone else tell you otherwise. At my new website Bestowed, you have an opportunity to sample some of the products I've mentioned.

Nutrition advice is available in boatloads, and if you bought everything that was recommended you'd be broke. Think of this as a monthly "fit-kit" full of snacks and treats that have been carefully selected by me for you to try.

Can't wait to get your feedback!

For more by Heather Bauer, RD, CDN, click here.

For more on diet and nutrition, click here.