Oh baby, it's been hot outside. I certainly appreciate my air conditioner on these hot days and try to do my part to not add any additional heat to the house by not using the oven. The outside grill is a great way to cook in hot weather and lighter meals seem to taste better when the temperatures soar. For many, that might mean eating more salads and sandwiches. Sandwiches could mean two slices of white bread with some meat and cheese in the middle. But nowadays there are so many more options when it comes to eating sandwiches.
If I recall correctly, the sandwich originated as an easy finger food for the Earl of Sandwich to eat so that he didn't have to stop playing cards. Sandwiches are still convenient and popular, but with the different varieties of breads and options for fillings available, it doesn't have to be just white bread and a slice of meat anymore.
Bread is probably still the most popular option for a sandwich and there are lots of options if you still prefer your sandwich with bread. But could you make the change to using a more whole grain product to boost the nutrient content? Whole grain, flax seed, oatmeal and other grains can add some new flavors and variety that you might come to enjoy.
In addition to the different varieties of breads, though, I thoroughly enjoy the different types of sandwiches that use pita bread, wraps and a newer product called laffa. Pita bread is a coarser bread that has a "pocket" where you can put your various fillings. Sandwiches can also be made with soft shell tortillas or wraps that can add some pizzazz to your meal. You can find whole grain options with these products, or items that are made with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach or other vegetables to add some interesting colors and flavors.
I saw a new product the other day that is like pita bread, but is more flexible and pliable called laffa. It is a Middle Eastern flatbread that is about the thinness of a crepe, but can be pulled apart into two pieces like a pita. I'm anxious to give that a try!
There are lots of options for the outside of the sandwich, and there are even more options for the inside. You can put in hot or cold meat or go vegetarian, shredded cheeses, vegetables like onions, peppers, or mushrooms, add some crunch with mini-tortilla strips or nuts and use whatever dressing you prefer - ranch, vinegar and oil or maybe a chipotle spread or salsa. The possibilities are endless! How about a Spicy Chicken and Avocado wrap or a Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon wrap? Or maybe a Honey Glazed Fruit and Yogurt pita? The sky's the limit when it comes to experimenting with the traditional sandwich.
(Cheryl Rude is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center)