Not many things in life get the recognition they deserve, let alone get an entire day every year dedicated to their creation. However, there are just some things in life, such as the sandwich it would seem, which have become so iconic and popular with the masses that its global popularity has enabled it to have one special day totally dedicated to its existence. That day is the 3rd of November, which is officially and globally marked as National Sandwich Day, so what better time to delve into all things sandwich and find out a bit more about this popular food and what it takes to make a sandwich so great that it has its own special day.
So just where did the word sandwich come from? Its origins are said to date back to 1762 and come from a story about John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, who, whilst partaking in a gambling game, requested to be served up a slice of meat between two slices of bread. This convenient request would allow him to satisfy his hunger without intercepting or stopping his gambling, as he could eat without interruption to his game. Although the specific further details of this is not known, it is likely that during his travels John Montagu had encountered similar foods in the Mediterranean where the Greeks, Italians and Turks, would frequently serve pitta breads and other small canapes that could be conveniently eaten, so although it is unlikely that John Montague physically ‘invented’ the sandwich completely, it is certainly him who the recognition is given to here in England for the creation we now commonly know as the sandwich. It is therefore only fitting that this extremely popular and convenient snack marks its special National day on the third of November, which was the 4th Earl of Sandwich’s birthday!
So apart from the fact it’s convenient, comes in an endless variety of flavours and you can eat it on the run (an increasingly essential necessity in this fast paced world it would seem), what other benefits can a sandwich have? Well it can be a very healthy food option, but that’s dependant on the fillings you choose and the bread you select to make it with. Many people think that to eat healthy you have to compromise on taste, but that is certainly not the case here.
Which bread is the healthiest?
With all the breads available nowadays, visiting the bakery or supermarket bread isle can easily leave you feeling totally perplexed with what to buy. Most people, even if they don’t abide by it, will be aware that the general consensus has always been that brown breads are healthy and white breads are not. However it is not quite as simple as that and it can be very easy to be misled by labelling, leading you to buy breads that you believe to be healthy and wholesome, when in fact that is not the case at all. Generally speaking whole grain breads are the healthiest, but remember whole grain bread is NOT the same as whole wheat bread, they are different things and you should always opt for the whole grain option. This is because whole wheat bread undergoes a similar refining process as white bread where much of the goodness such as wheat germ and bran are stripped from it and only partially replaced. Whole grain breads contain the full ‘whole grains’ and so provide a nutrient and fibre dense bread. If you are not sure check the label as it will state 100% wholegrain.
If you are following a gluten free diet there are still gluten free grains you can eat and in more specialist bakeries you will be able to find these in bread form, such as buckwheat, uncontaminated oats and brown rice.
There is also increasingly positive research showing the health benefits of consuming sourdough bread, which is likely down to the fermentation process that it undergoes and which may alter its starches and make them healthier and far more easily digestible. This is particularly the case for diabetics and those needing to manage their blood sugar levels as well as those suffering from IBS symptoms where benefits have been seen in some studies, although more research is needed to conclude these effects.
So when selecting the bread for your sandwich, it is best to choose wholegrain or sourdough and select varieties that do not contain added preservatives such as sulphites (E220) and ones that contain a low sugar content. Even better make your own, as nothing beats a sandwich made from freshly baked bread.
To butter or not to butter?
The answer to this question is personal and comes down to the individual choice of the consumer. It is thought that butter was originally added to sandwiches and bread in general to soften it, especially in historic times when bread would become stale quickly, but still needed to be eaten, so butter would allow it to become more palatable and easier to swallow. If you fall on the side that a sandwich is not a sandwich if it does not contain butter then why not try Delamere Dairy goats’ butter to add a little difference and deliciousness to your sandwich.
With the countless delicious fillings available, from the old classics to the newer creations, there is a sandwich out there that can tickle everyone’s taste buds. Their versatility, coupled with the ease of making and eating, makes sandwiches a top choice for many people’s lunch, and even breakfasts and dinners too. But if your regular cheese and tomato or jam and peanut butter has got a little stale, then read on to find some deliciously creative suggestions to jazz up your own National Sandwich Day.
The possibility of sandwich fillings and combinations are literally endless and of course the old classics such as ham and mustard, cheese and tomato, egg and cress, tuna and cucumber are always going to be popular favourites, but with so many ingredients out there that lend themselves to be served between two slices of bread why not try any of the below combinations and have your friends drooling with envy come National Sandwich Day.
Vegetarian sandwich fillings
The combination of sweet and savoury can work deliciously well even in sandwiches. Couple this with different textures also and you will be onto a winner. One super tasty combo that does just this, is Delamere Dairy’s
honey goats’ cheese log, spread on sourdough bread with the addition of finely sliced pears and crushed walnuts. This sandwich will provide you with a good source of protein in both the walnuts and cheese as well as giving you an excellent source of dietary fibre in both the pears and sourdough. The combination of protein and fibre always makes a good lunch or snack, as it is this combination of food types that keeps you feeling fullest for longest.
Now autumn is upon us, there are some great autumnal vegetables to choose from, many of which lend themselves to roasting, which can really heighten and sweeten their flavours. One such vegetable is the butternut squash. It may not be immediately your first thought when thinking of a sandwich filling, but you will soon be converted. Chop small cubes of butternut squash and place on a roasting tin along with a couple of shallots and a small amount of oil and a couple of sprigs of thyme. Roast until soft and then remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Take the bread of your choice and squash onto it half an avocado and then place the butternut squash (you can slightly mash this if you like to make it easier to insert into your sandwich) and roasted shallots on top of the avocado and voila, a tasty autumnal sandwich sure to keep anyone warm during these colder days. Butternut squash is also loaded with vital nutrients such as providing a good source of potassium, helpful in lowering blood pressure, as well as being a fantastic source of zeaxanthin and lutein, two powerful antioxidants that are essential for eye health and vision.
Meat & Fish Fillings
The tuna and cheese combo and tuna melt are a popular favourite filling when it comes to sandwiches, but here is a way to make it just that little more exciting and even healthier. Very finely chop some celery, spring
onion and carrot into a bowel then add tinned or freshly cooked tuna and a couple of spoonful’s of Delamere Dairy spreadable goats’ cheese. Season with salt and pepper and if desired add a little of the herbs dill or parsley then serve on crusty bread. Tuna is an excellent source of B vitamins as well as the mineral selenium, which is essential for healthy immunity, so great at this time of year when germs are in abundance. Adding finely chopped vegetables to the tuna and cheese mix hugely increases the nutrient content of this sandwich and if chopped finely enough, they can be suitably disguised enough that even children who don’t usually eat their vegetables may not even know they are there.
Chicken and turkey is a great and healthy meat perfect for sandwiches and come 26th December, most people are desperate for creative but tasty ways to eat up the leftover meat, so here is a great sandwich to make with those leftovers. Shred the chicken or turkey meat in a bowl. Roughly chop an apple, celery and walnuts and add to the meat. Add a handful or raisons and a spoonful of mayonnaise (or spreadable Delamere Dairy goats’ cheese if preferred), enough to combine the mixture together then add to the bread of your choice. The texture and crunchiness of this sandwich is great and that combination of sweet and savoury again works really well here.
This is a real brain boosting sandwich, as both chicken and walnuts have great neuroprotective benefits with walnuts containing essential fats which are known to improve brain health and function including cognition. In fact studies have shown that those people who eat nuts regularly tend to have higher cognitive function and less cognitive decline with age, compared to non nut eaters. Chicken is a great source of the vital nutrient called Choline, which is required for normal brain development and correct brain function. Men, postmenopausal women and pregnant women are those that require most choline and it should certainly be part of the daily diet where possible. The addition of apple to this sandwich will of course keep you especially healthy, as we all know ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’.
Whatever sandwich you choose to eat to celebrate this years’ National Sandwich Day, one thing that is mostly agreed upon amongst sandwich connoisseurs is that the bread should not be the main thing. In other words make sure your sandwich is fully loaded and that means when you bite into it at least some of the filling should be spilling out the sides!
The Acute Impact of Ingestion of Sourdough and Whole-Grain Breads on Blood Glucose, Insulin, and Incretins in Overweight and Obese Men, 2012. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism
Novel insights on the functional/nutritional features of the sourdough fermentation, 2018. International Journal of Food Microbiology.
Pilot Study: Comparison of Sourdough Wheat Bread and Yeast-Fermented Wheat Bread in Individuals with Wheat Sensitivity and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, 2017. Nutrients
Nutritional Importance of Choline for Brain Development, 2004. Journal of the American College of Nutrition
Role of Walnuts in Maintaining Brain Health with Age, 2014. Journal of Nutrition