Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Bread + Butter + Cheese = Happiness!

August is National Sandwich Month!

That's right...there's an entire month of every year dedicated to the celebration of the sandwich.

How cool is that?

Love them or hate them, Americans eat 300 million sandwiches each day. That means we consume as many sandwiches each day as we have people to eat them. Wow!

Here are a few more sandwich fun facts:

  • The sandwich as we know it today was popularized in England in 1762 by John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Legend has it that Montagu had a substantial gambling problem that led him to spend hours on end at the card table. During a particularly long binge, he asked the cook to bring him something he could eat without getting up from his seat...the sandwich was born. Montagu enjoyed his meat and bread so much that he ate it constantly, and as it grew popular in London society, it took on the Earl's name.

  • The first recipe for a sandwich appeared in an American cookbook in 1815. Upon arrival, the most popular version of the sandwich wasn't ham or turkey, it was tongue.

  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches first appeared in the 1920s. Up until then, peanut butter was viewed as a luxury product. You were likely to find peanut butter and pimiento sandwiches, or even peanut butter and watercress tea sandwiches. Once the price of peanut butter decreased, it stopped being seen as an indulgence and started to be used by moms as a filling way to feed children at school.

  • The iconic New Orleans sandwich, the po boy, came about in the Great Depression during a streetcar worker strike. Two brothers, once streetcar operators themselves, owned a sandwich shop nearby, and promised to feed any down-on-his-luck striking worker for free.  When a hungry striker walked into the shop, the clerks would yell, "Here comes another po' boy."

  • The Sloppy Joe also came about during the Depression. It was the invention of a short order cook named, you guessed it, Joe.

  • The Reuben, a wonderful combination of corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut, appeared not in  New York deli as you might imagine, but in Omaha, Nebraska. The sandwich was named after one of the participants in a weekly poker game that took place in an area hotel.

Of course, most Americans today wouldn't dream of eating a tongue sandwich, but that's okay because we've come up with some pretty excellent sandwich ideas since then... including the grilled cheese sandwich.

The precise origin of the grilled cheese sandwich is not clear, but food scholars speculate that it was in the 1920s that some enterprising mind came up with the idea to combine bread and cheese and grill it.

The grilled cheese became a mainstay meal during the 1930s as citizens could usually afford this relatively inexpensive sandwich. During World War II, the grilled cheese was a favorite of the armed forces, with official Navy cookbooks containing recipes for making these hearty meals. Before long, school cafeterias and moms across the US were making grilled cheese sandwiches a part of their meal planning. 

Today, I want you to consider the clinical importance of the incredible, edible grilled cheese sandwich. 

15 Reasons SLPs Love Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

1.  Cheese is a good source of protein- so many of our patients don't get enough of it; it's better to eat gooey cheese than take a shot of Pro Mod any day (if you ask me)

2.  It's easy to chew and swallow- you don't even need teeth to enjoy this grilled goodness; your patients won't wear themselves out with bolus preparation like they might with other types of sandwiches

3.  They're high in calories- which is a great selling point for most of our older adult patients who are experiencing gradual weight loss; it sure beats drinking an Ensure for lunch!

4.  A perfect finger food- whether you cut them in half, in quarters or into bite size pieces, these delicious sandwiches require no utensils and minimal fine motor skills

5.  Easy to prepare- you can have a warm, crispy sandwich in a matter of minutes; they're on the table before you know it...great for busy caregivers

6.  Available on most kid's menus- even if your patients are eating out, they can enjoy these easy to chew, easy to swallow sammys

6.  Available on most alternate menus- in nearly every facility I have worked, the glorious grilled cheese is available as an alternate for an otherwise dreadful or difficult meal

8. Yummy in your tummy- they're considered by many to be the ultimate comfort food

9.  Endless options for upgrading- add extra protein by topping your cheese with bacon or ham, add veggies with slices of tomato, fresh spinach,  sauteed mushrooms or onions

10.  Requires only 3 simple ingredients- use any kind of bread and any kind of cheese; chances are, all of the ingredients are on hand...no special shopping trips required

11.  Enjoy at breakfast, lunch or dinner- everyone agrees, you can eat grilled cheese any time of the day or night

12.  A terrific transition food- it's a perfect bridge between a mechanical soft and regular diet, and, depending on the patient, between purees and mech soft foods; use this sandwich during therapeutic trials in consideration of diet advancement or upgrade

13.  Even the pickiest of eaters love them- that's true for both adults and children; there's no need to poke or prod your patients to "keep eating"

14.  Happy plates!- your patients are likely to eat the entire sandwich and earn a 100 under the % of meal consumed column of the patient flow sheet

15.  They are familiar and recognizable- you can't always say that when your diet is restricted to pureed, finely chopped or ground meats

So, does that make you want to jump on the grilled cheese bandwagon?  I sure hope so!

As you go about your work this week, remember the functional and clinical importance of this simple sandwich, and imagine how grilled cheese can benefit the patients on your caseload. 

Now...LET'S EAT!

Thanks for reading. Hope it's a great week!

Life is like a sandwich, you have to fill it with the best ingredients.

PS:  Are you doing it all wrong when it comes to making grilled cheese sandwiches? Check out this video on how to make a grilled cheese sandwich the right way...it's pretty entertaining and demonstrates an excellent technique.