How to Make a Hoagie (Healthy!)

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Recently, I had the pleasure and honor of having Dr. Andrew Weil “stop by my kitchen” for a chat. He mentioned one of his favorite foods growing up in Philadelphia was a hoagie. A HOAGIE! I love hoagies! I think it’s a Pennsylvania thing. Sure, around the country they are now called “Subs,” or submarine sandwiches, thanks to Subway. In New England they call similar sandwiches “grinders,” which aren’t hoagies at all, and are usually served hot. (Eww!) According to Wikipedia (not a legitimate source, I know!), there are more than 15 different names for this sandwich, and multiple theories as to how it got its name. The main thing is, the sandwich did originate in Pennsylvania (probably Philadelphia), and it is awesome to eat!

So, what’s a Pennsylvania girl to do? All the hoagies around here are made on squishy white bread, with toxic-chemical mystery meats (by the way, for the most delicious one of those around here, you have to go to Wally’s Deli). So I have learned to make my own at home for my kids, who are very grateful for my efforts, and for me. Turns out, it is very easy.

Basic Healthy Hoagie



1 soft 100% whole wheat or whole grain bun
1 or more slices organic ham
1 or more slices organic provolone or American cheese
2 or more slices organic hard salami
Organic iceberg lettuce (finely chopped)
Thinly sliced purple onion
Thinly sliced tomato
Pinch of oregano
Dash of salt


Red wine vinegar
Olive oil

Directions: Assemble the sandwich, starting with the cold cuts and cheese, then the toppings, then the seasonings and dressing.


The bread: A typical hoagie roll is a long, submarine-shaped soft baguette. The main thing to making a hoagie healthy is to use 100% whole wheat or whole grain rolls (just plain bread doesn’t hold the dressing well enough). I often use whole wheat round sandwich buns, which are easier to find.

The meats: I prefer Applegate Farms organic sandwich meats. This is one situation in which home-cooked meats just don’t have the same flavor, oddly enough. You can do all sorts of variations, depending on what you can find. Substitute smoked turkey for ham. Add different types of sandwich meats. But if you ask me, the salami is fairly essential. Applegate Farms makes a good one that is not exactly organic, but is close enough.


The lettuce: Finely chopped is best, with the tomato and onion sliced thin. (This is not a sandwich you want to eat, and then immediately afterwards have a make-out session!) Earthbound Farms makes a great organic iceberg lettuce.

Oregano? An essential ingredient! It’s not a hoagie without it.

Salt? Yes. A dash of salt makes a big difference. Trust me.

Dressing: 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil; emulsify, and add to the lettuce on top of the sandwich (not to the bread because it makes it too soggy).

Other approved ingredients for variations include: pickled hot peppers, pickles, roasted peppers, roasted hot peppers (yum!). Vegetarians can just make a cheese hoagie.


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15 Responses to How to Make a Hoagie (Healthy!)

  1. kimberly February 4, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    Yum! Brings back childhood memories of gathering on Saturday mornings at the fire hall kitchen and making hundreds of hoagies to be delivered! Can’t wait to try the updated version:-)

  2. Vanessa February 4, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    Have you got a not-so-guilty version of a Philly cheese steak? I would love that!

  3. Amber February 4, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    YUM! I used to work for a chain sub shop and I still love the hoagie sandwich, this is such a good idea, I think I will make some all organic ones for the next party. I love loading them with tons of veggies, especially bell peppers, greens like spinach or kale, cucumbers, avocado, tomatoes, sprouts… fresh basil in the summer… Now I am hungry 🙂

  4. Lisa from PA February 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    In Maine, we call them Italian Sandwiches, and they usually include American cheese, green peppers, and black olives as a standard ingredient. A Grinder is something different.

  5. Kathi Robinson February 4, 2011 at 5:44 pm #

    For all the people unfamiliar and uneducated about the art of making a great HOAGIE!, the easy way to think of this is like this.

    I am generally not a total troublemaker in life but it’s kind of worth getting stuck on death row just so you can get that familiar last request “What do you want for your last meal?”

    Nothing like going to heaven after finishing a great Hoagie!

    It just seems worth the trouble of planning your last meal instead of having it sneak up on you in an accident and you miss that one final special treat!

  6. maria (farm country kitchen) February 5, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    Great idea on the cheese steak! I will post in a few weeks. Thanks!

  7. Liz February 5, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    This is exactly a grinder in Western Mass. Yumyum!

  8. Kathleen Tauber February 7, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    Where can you purchase organic deli meats? I would love to make this and other sandwiches with organic meats.

  9. maria (farm country kitchen) February 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    I buy mine (Applegate Farms is one brand) at Wegmans. But Whole Foods has them too. Where are you located?

  10. Sue February 8, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    a grinder is a hoagie baked in oven

  11. Myra February 8, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    My hubby loves anything piled between two big slices of homemade whole wheat bread and this sounds just right. I have a batch in the breadmaker right now. (Yeah, I make it the lazy way – there is only two of us.) I think I would add Romaine lettuce, organic, of course.
    White bread is not bread. A friend once told me that all it was good for was to make children’s craft paste.
    Thanks for the recipe and the options.
    Visit me here to learn ways to have better health

  12. mary January 23, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    love hoagies, and sandwiches in general…but really love that Dr. Weil was hanging with you!

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