I have had quite a few rendezvous with sandwiches of many stripes in my day, be it döner kebap in the rowdy streets of Istanbul or tortas in the colorful Mexican-American neighborhoods of the Bay Area.
It might seem weird then that I didn’t make sandwiches very much all this time. That all changed when my good friend Aziz introduced me to a new way of diet and exercise that more or less changed my life. To read about that story, make sure you check out my ramble: Calculate Before You Consume.
This post is a tribute to this simple wonder. To think that two pieces of bread, or one piece of bread that can be wrapped into creative contortions, can not only enclose a protein (or protein-substitute) filling laced with savory condiments, but also be delicious, perhaps even gourmet? Is that possible?
As Mr. Wonderful would say on many a Shark Tank episode (for all of you budding entrepreneurs out there): Stop the Madness!
It turns out – it’s entirely possible, and healthy too. A filling sandwich in the hand is certainly worth two (or more) helpings of something that could be much less satisfying.
What makes sandwiches so unbelievably fascinating to a culinary neophyte such as myself is their tremendous variety. As I began to delve into nutrition and started counting calories, a mere 6 months ago now, I paid special attention to meals that would give me “the biggest bang for the buck.” I had four cardinal rules for the food I made:
Sandwiches happen to get top scores in all four categories, most importantly, #3
Oscar Meyer Obsession:
My girlfriend Mahya jokes with me that ever since I started my diet, I only know two forms of protein – chicken and turkey. Truth be told, my love affair with Turkey (the country) aside, soon after I began my new regimen, I consumed pounds and pounds of deli meat (Oscar Meyer turkey) on a weekly basis.
I can’t recall even venturing into the deli aisle prior to this reawakening of health-consciousness.
I still remember my first Oscar Meyer sandwich. Aziz had rampaged through my pantry and reduced my manliness to a mere shadow of its former self, rebuking me left and right for my eating habits. We made a trip to Woodman's so he could re-teach me how to eat healthy and make nutritious food for myself. This was early September 2013.
Seven months and counting since that fateful day, I think I can say the following about sandwiches with a considerable degree of confidence.
Moment of Truth:
It all boils down to what you prefer eating, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if you’re looking to lose weight, the type of sandwich that you resort to as your go-to-meal can make a massive difference.
If you’re a sliced bread kind of guy, there’s gonna be something you’re gonna like. I personally prefer wheat bread (always did), but the fact remains that you can mix and match whatever carbohydrate source you fancy. For many months my lone bread source happened to be this variety. But then Aziz stumbled across these tortillas that blew that bread out of the water when it came to counting macros. Before long, wraps had become my lunch of choice.
Who knows maybe next month I’ll find something even better.
Personal tastes are bound to evolve and it’s only natural that we get bored of whatever we eat if we keep eating it long enough. But if you stay true to the essentials, you’re bound to retain interest.
The Good Stuff:
Now, for the protein source. As I mentioned before, Oscar Meyer made a lot of money off of me in the last quarter of 2013. I enjoy the taste of turkey deli meat, but I no longer go for the pre-packaged variety. It’s much better (and healthier) to get fresh deli from any large supermarket and order just as much as you think you’re going to be able to eat.
Recently I’ve gotten into the Low Sodium variety of some of these meats because I recall my salt levels going through the roof when I chomped on Oscar Meyer day and night. But as Aziz would say, a higher intake of sodium just means you’re gonna drink more water. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
As for condiments, mustard is probably the best in terms of combining taste and nutrition. I personally prefer the spicier flavors, but hold the horseradish. I didn’t realize it was the white man’s wasabi until earlier this week when I squeezed a healthy helping onto my turkey wrap. My nasal cavity will never be the same again.