Food & Fitness After 50: Celebrate the Sandwich During National Sandwich Month

earlofsandwichmythorfactDid you know that August is National Sandwich Month? The sandwich was popularized in the 1700s by  4th Earl of Sandwich, (Sandwich is a medieval town in southeast England in the county of Kent.) The legend goes that the Earl asked for a hunk of beef between two slices of bread so he could hold the meal in one hand while he played cards. One of his companions is to have said, “I’ll have the same as Sandwich,” and thus the humble and delicious sandwich was born.

how-to-buy-healthy-breadWhat makes a truly great sandwich? The overwhelming response to that question is bread, with 42% of people saying the bread is most important ingredient in a sandwich.

Many folks give up bread thinking that it has too many calories or carbs. In a 2017 study, researchers found that all grain foods, including breads, contributed less than 15% of all calories in the total diet, while delivering nutrients that are in short supply in the diet of many Americans, as well as nutrients needed for healthy aging, including dietary fiber, folate, iron, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin A. (Papanikolaou Y & Fulgoni VL. Grain foods are meaningful contributors of nutrient density of American adults and help close nutrient recommendation gaps: Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009-2012. Nutrients. 2017: Aug 14;9(8). 

And, in this time of coronavirus, we are turning to comfort foods and that includes bread. In a national survey, approximately one-third of Americans named pasta (36%) and bread (29%) as foods that are comforting during a stressful time. Of all the comfort foods that Americans turn to in times of stress, they recognize bread and pasta among the most nutritious.

120405183406-stacked-sandwich-super-169I like to think of bread and other grains as the perfect vehicle for carrying protein-rich foods. Sandwiches, wraps, pita pockets, and crackers can carry needed protein, vegetables and healthy fats. Specifically, whole grains also provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. While research is still emerging and further research is needed, a variety of plant-based compounds in whole grains may impact oxidative stress, suggesting that reducing oxidative stress by consuming whole grains is a likely mechanism for the protective effect from diseases associated with aging.

National Sandwich Month is the perfect time to enjoy a sandwich for dinner. In the dog days of August heat, make a sandwich for dinner and pack with veggies, quality protein fillings, and healthy fats for a tasty meal. It is the ingredients between the slices of bread that should be the focus of delivering a healthier sandwich. With so many delicious breads to select from, choose your favorite and be mindful of the filling. Know your stuff before you cut, and modify the sandwich filling, not the best part…the bread!

Here are some sandwich ideas to get you started and I’d love to hear your favorite sandwich, too! All these sandwiches go great with a side of fresh summer fruit, such as berries, melon, or peaches.

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  • Sliced tomato and avocado sandwich with lettuce on toasted whole wheat bread
  • Grilled turkey burger topped with grilled onions and peppers on a toasted brioche bun
  • Roasted veggies (artichokes, peppers, mushrooms) tucked into a pita pocket
  • Deli turkey meat with Swiss cheese and Russian dressing on hearty rye bread
  • Tuna salad with sliced olives, lettuce, and tomato on sour dough bread
  • Cold slices of chicken wrapped into a tortilla and topped with salsa
  • Grilled lean beef burger with sliced cucumber, red onion, and tomato served in a pita pocket with tzatziki sauce for a Greek-style sandwich
  • Grilled chicken sausage on hot dog bun with sauerkraut
  • Bagel, cream cheese and smoked salmon with capers and red onion slices
  • Cuban sandwich with leftover pork loin, a slice of ham, pickles, and cheese on a toasted baguette
  • Thinly sliced tart apple, cheddar cheese, and chicken panini
  • Egg salad on sweet Hawaiian roll
  • Olive tapenade and goat cheese on grilled French bread
  • Grilled cheese; but change it up using different cheese (spicy Jalapeno Monterey Jack!) on your favorite bread

Dr. Christine Rosenbloom is a registered dietitian nutritionist and a nutrition professor emerita at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Along with Dr. Bob Murray, she is the author of Food & Fitness After 50.

Copyright © 2019 [Christine Rosenbloom]. All Rights Reserved