Monday, November 3, 2008

Sandwiches to Smile About: National Sandwich Day

Today, November 3rd, is the birthday of John Montague, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, the namesake of the sandwich, and thus it is National Sandwich Day. Yes, there is actually a National Sandwich Day.

Sandwiches to Smile About

Life is like a sandwich, the more you add to it the better it becomes.

Sandwiches say lunch in a way that almost no other entrĂ©e does. When children are encouraged to join in the building of them, sandwiches offer a wonderful outlet for developing independence and creative expression. They are easy for even very young children to pick up and feed themselves. Perhaps as they were originally intended, sandwiches are among the best of packables. However, it is very easy and common to get in a sandwich making rut. Offering as many types of sandwiches as possible will develop a child’s palate, getting them used to more ingredients and textures, and adding that extra spice to life. And as we turn from winter to spring, there is no better time to breathe new life into lunches that might be getting stale.

The Outsides
Bread is the most traditional sandwich outside. From pizza crust to pita bread to Indian naan, the options for using wheat sandwich outsides are plentiful. Sandwiches can be made sweet using cinnamon-raisin, pumpernickel, or challah breads. For a more savory experience, try using a light rye or seeded bread. If you are packing your sandwiches for later, toast or grill the bread to prevent them from getting too soggy. Additionally, pack dressing or sauces and pour them on just before eating to further prevent sogginess. But in a world where children are consuming more and more carbohydrates, a sandwich doesn’t have to just mean bread. Crackers, rice cakes, a piece of lettuce, “cheese” slices, or a crunchy piece of nori seaweed can be wonderful alternatives.

The Insides
Peanut butter and jelly have long been staples in houses where children dwell. With an increase in nut allergies and parents wishing more and more to add variety to their children’s sandwich repertoire, experimenting with the insides of your sandwich can be the answer. Try filling your sandwiches with hummus and chopped sweet peppers or tomatoes arranged in the shape of a star or flower. Pumpkin and apple butters make a great alternative to your usual jams. As well, any salad makes a wonderful filling in pocket bread. Remember to sprinkle in your favorite sand-wishes before you finish off your creation.

To Cook or Not to Cook?
Sandwiches are a wonderfully easy food item for kids to make on their own because generally they don’t need involvement from a heat source. That said, toasting or grilling your sandwich adds an extra bit of fun to your child’s experience. Served warm, even standard fallbacks like a pb&j are given new life.

As a sandwich creator, it is important to understand that the way a meal is received is directly connected to the visual experience. It is all about the presentation. Vary the way you serve sandwiches: rolled up inside bread, open faced, in pockets, or traditionally inside two pieces of bread. Use cookie cutters (any shape will do) or cut sandwiches into bite-sized pieces such as fingers or odd shaped corners. Anything you do that will add to your presentation of the sandwich will make it a more exciting and novel culinary experience for your children.

The Art of Sandwich Making
With some varied ingredients and a few toothpicks, sandwiches can become your child’s own personal canvas. Stack varied sizes of sliced items like cucumbers, radishes, carrots or small pieces of cheese for eyes, body pieces stacked together, noses, and ears. Corn makes great teeth or buttons for a robot. Olives and grapes easily become bulging eyes, bug body parts, headlights, or hooves. Lettuce, especially red leaf or other types of lettuce that have frilly edges, make beautiful dresses, Tomatoes and sweet bell peppers slice nicely into petal shapes. Add some parsley sprigs and your flower is complete.

Ironed Sandwich
This is a fun vegan variation of a classic grilled cheese sandwich. Try varying the ingredients for any type of grilled sandwich your little ones might prefer. Adult supervision required when making this sandwich.

Two slices of bread
Almond cheese slices
Earth Balance soy margarine
1 piece of aluminum foil about the size of a legal-sized piece of paper
Iron and Ironing Board

Evenly spread Earth Balance on both slices of bread.
Place cheese between bread, with the Earth Balance on the outside.
Fold aluminum foil in half and place sandwich inside of foil so that both slices of bread are covered.
Iron both sides of the foil until the cheese begins to melt and the bread and Earth Balance browns.

Smiling Apples
Here’s a sandwich that makes kids smile. This can be used as a snack or main sandwich in a lunch. For a smoother version, leave out the slivered almonds.

1 large crunchy apple like a Granny Smith or Braeburn
Almond or Cashew butter
Slivered almonds

Slice an apple into rounds that are about a quarter inch thick.
Spread one apple round with almond butter.
Sprinkle with slivered almonds and cinnamon.
Place another apple round on top and enjoy!

Cucumber Caterpillar
My son loves a good old-fashioned cucumber and” cheese” sandwich. Here’s a fun way to add more veggies while cutting down on the bread.

1 small cucumber, sliced thin
almond cheese slices, cut into small circles using a cookie cutter
two tiny pieces of bread, best are the heels of your French loaf
two raisins
1 bamboo skewer
1 toothpick

Begin by sticking one heel of bread onto the end of the skewer (heel side out). Add the cucumbers and cheese slices in a pattern, and then the other bread heel, on the skewer. Finish your caterpillar by breaking a toothpick in half and use them to attach the raisins to the bread.

Sunflower Faces
This sandwich makes a great interactive breakfast, snack, or lunch experience. Sunflower butter is a nice alternative to peanut or other nut butters and is high in Vitamin E.

1 slice of bread
sunflower butter
banana coins (1 banana sliced into coins)
shelled sunflower seeds
granola pieces
about 1 tsp. agave nectar (optional)

Spread sunflower butter on bread. Drizzle agave nectar on top of sunflower butter, if extra sweetness is desired. Arrange other ingredients in the shape of a face, sunflower, or any desired pattern or design.

Pizza Sandwich
This recipe makes two small rounds of pizza dough, enough for one pizza sandwich.

1 tsp. yeast
3 T. very warm water
1 tsp. oil
1 tsp. agave nectar
8 T. flour
Pizza or pasta sauce of your choice, such as: marinara, pesto, or blended tofu
Pizza toppings of your choice, such as: artichoke hearts, olives, shredded mozzarella cheese, pine nuts, mushrooms, or baby corn.

Sprinkle yeast over the water. Stir. Let the yeast dissolve until it forms a bubble surface. Stir in the oil, agave, and flour. Knead the ingredients together on a lightly floured board. Cover dough with a cloth and let ruse for about 20 minutes. Divide dough into two equal pieces. Roll dough into circles. Place onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake 8 minutes at 450 degrees. Remove from oven and let cool. Add toppings onto one of the circles and top with the remaining circle. Place back into oven for a few minutes to melt cheese.

Tablespoon Pockets
This sandwich is a salad in a pocket. It makes a great picnic meal.

1 Roma tomato sliced
1/4 cucumber, diced
1 T fresh basil, chopped
1 T fresh parsley, chopped
1 T vegan Parma “cheese”
1 T. olive oil
splash of balsamic vinegar
splash of lemon juice
Pita bread

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Scoop into a pita bread pocket just before serving.

Spinach Pinwheels
The spiral that appears when these sandwiches are cut is a great novelty that will have your kids eating their spinach. I like using pumpernickel bread (a dark bread made with molasses) for both the contrast in color and sweetness that it adds to the roll, but any leavened bread will work.

1 slice of pumpernickel (or any favorite) bread, crusts removed if desired
Tofutti cream cheese (or your favorite soft, spreadable)
fresh spinach, washed with stems removed
herb salt

Using a rolling pin to roll your slice of bread until it is cracker thin. Spread cream cheese all over the bread, leaving a half-inch around the edges. Cover cheese with spinach leaves and sprinkle with herb salt. Tightly roll and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about an hour (or overnight). Remove from refrigerator and slice before serving.

Sandwich Timeline

1 century B.C. – The first sandwich, lamb and herbs inside of Matzo bread, is enjoyed by Jewish Rabbi Hillel.

The Middle Ages (between the 6th and 16th centuries) – The first open-faced sandwich appears. “Trenchers” (thick slices of hard bread) are used instead of plates to soak up the juices, grease, and sauce of the meal.

1760’s – The sandwich gets its name. John Montague, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, is said to have, while not wanting to take breaks from his work, repeatedly ordered his meat between two slices of bread.

1840 - The sandwich is introduced to America by cookbook author Elizabeth Leslie. She suggests ham sandwiches as a main dish.

Early 1900’s, Industrial Revolution – Bakeries begin selling pre-sliced bread. Sandwiches become a favorite lunch packable and went to the factories with workers and schools with children!

1 comment:

sunshinemom said...

Thanks for the beautiful ideas! My first time here and this is a wonderful blog:)

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