Living in a fast paced city in North America coupled with the demands of work, sometimes, leaves dads and moms compromising a healthy meal for their kids, like eating in a fast food. Ironically, people’s preference for fast food seemed to have declined recently , with food industry giants reporting slipping profits last year. According to a recent report , younger consumers are more concerned about what they eat (compared to the previous generation) and their preference for healthy food has seen a decline in sales in fast food. This has prompted food industry giants to rethink and revisit their strategies when it comes to selling their food products.
But apart from city life, recent economic issues have forced our family to watch our budget for almost everything, including food, but mindful of ensuring our kids that we are all still eating healthy and enjoying good food. Apart from setting aside certain food preparation practices from our home country (think of cooking pancit!), these times also call for more healthy and quick alternatives. Part of this is to rethink and revisit some of the food we used to prepare but have often referred to as a snack or even fast food and not associated with the usual home cooked meal. This brings me to looking at sandwich as a healthy yet quick alternative.
A quick check on the sandwich’s etymology tells us that the word was originally a family name from Kent, England; which literally means ‘sandy harbour’ or ‘trading centre on sand’. The real inventor of sandwich was not John Montagu, Fourth Earl of Sandwich*, but most probably his cook whom he instructed to prepare his food in such a way that he would not have to be interrupted during a gambling marathon. Foodtime.org wrote that Montagu copied this from his trips to Greece and Turkey where he saw locals grilling pita bread as an appetizer (also called mezes).
On the other hand, the Nibble astutely pointed out that ‘edible plates’ to hold roasted meat or fish from hand to mouth were made from unleavened breads and most likely started in 9000 B.C.E.! Interestingly, sandwiches were also associated with men who ate it during late night parties but the first person who wrote a cookbook for sandwiches was a woman, Charlotte Mason!
But I digress. The sandwich as a meal does not stop from putting meat and spread between two pieces of bread. Although we do have our own favourites (My siblings and I used to enjoy butter with condensed milk on a warm pan de sal and Reuben sandwich) sandwiches have certainly evolved from slices of white and rye bread to using baguette, croissant or even pita and tortillas . Apart from its varying cultural influences and variety, sandwiches have changed to healthy meal alternatives that can be quickly prepared and enjoyed. For our family, a sandwich lunch or dinner is something we all look forward to. Here’s a simple sandwich that all of us help prepared. Except for the potato chips (unless you go for baked ones!) :-D, the rest of the ingredients are good and yes, healthy alternatives. Enjoy!
(Ham, Egg, Lettuce, and Tomato)
2 slices of whole wheat or light rye bread
1 slice of roasted forest ham
1 free-range egg
1 tbsp of vegetable oil
2 tbsp of skimmed milk
1 leaf of Romaine lettuce
4 slices of marble cheese
2 slices of tomato
Some lite mayonnaise and mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Prepare all ingredients: slices of tomato and cheese, a piece of forest ham, lettuce and bread.
2. Preheat oven to 270 ‘ F.
3. In a small bowl, whisk one egg and skimmed milk then add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a small pan over medium heat. Cook for about 3-5 minutes or until the mixture is cooked.
5. Spread butter on the two slices of bread then place the ham on one side of the bread and the slices of cheese on the other piece. Warm both pieces in the oven for 5-8 minutes or until the cheese slices have melted.
6. Remove the warm bread pieces of bread and immediately spread some light mayonnaise and mustard on the ham.
7. Place the egg on top of the ham then add the tomatoes and lettuce over it. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and top with the remaining piece of bread with cheese.
8. Put two toothpicks in the middle of the bread and slice the bread using a bread knife. Enjoy!
*Earl is a title in the Old English period for a person of noble class or rank that may be serving as a leader (or governor) for a division in England.
*Sandwich is a historic town in Kent, England. The town still exists to this date. The first English celery was grown here and salt was taken from its salt marshes. Presently, Sandwich has cafes and restaurants within this historic town including seafood restaurants, Greek, Italian, Indian, a sandwich shop (of course!) and two Thai restaurants, among others!
For sandwich cornucopia, check out this sandwich glossary from the website, The Nibble.
Sandwich photos by Ana Saplala.