July is National Sandwich Generation Month, a time to recognize the efforts of those men and women who pull double-duty. Members of this demographic attend to the needs of aging parents while raising their own children and oftentimes juggling professional careers as well.
In honor of this challenging but rewarding role, here are five delicious sandwich recipes that the sandwich generation can treat themselves and their family members to.
Elegantly Simple Grilled Cheese
Fast and easy, this sandwich is an easy-to-make comfort food and acceptable fare for you, the kids and your parents. Adding vegetables like spinach, tomatoes, sliced onions, and avocado, or fruit, like berries, pears and apples, for a sweet and savory flavor combination can up the nutrition factor of this sandwich and help balance out the creaminess of the cheese.
Tips for Building the Perfect Grilled Cheese
- Ideal cheeses are creamy and melt easily, such as American, Fontina, Gruyere, Tallegio, and Brie (which is especially tasty paired with the aforementioned berries). You'll want to stay away from drier, crumbly cheeses such as feta and parmesan. Remember, different cheeses have different melting times, so make sure to keep an eye on your sandwich while it’s cooking and opt for cheese slices for more even melting.
- Stale bread can be a boon when making a grilled cheese since it has less moisture than fresh bread. If you’re using fresh bread, a little bit of pre-toasting in the pan or toaster is key to achieving golden-brown goodness and preventing sogginess.
- While some people grill their cheese sandwiches in butter or olive oil, there’s another technique that is surprisingly effective. Instead, spread some mayonnaise on the outsides of your bread slices before frying up your sandwich in the skillet. It spreads evenly, browns and crisps up nicely, and adds a little tanginess to the finished product.
- If you want to add extra fillings but don’t have a panini maker, place a smaller pan or griddle on top of your sandwich while it’s on the stove to keep it pressed down. Just make sure all of your melty cheese doesn’t ooze out the sides!
Time-Saving Meatball Sub
The crockpot is one of the handiest kitchen appliances for time-crunched caregivers. Meatballs made in the slow cooker are very moist and retain the right balance of texture and taste. Just add a toasted hoagie roll, some slices of mozzarella or provolone cheese, and you're ready to chow down.
Ingredients for Crockpot Meatballs
- 1 pound ground beef (ground turkey, chicken, and buffalo are tasty substitutes)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- 28 ounces of your favorite spaghetti sauce
- 16 ounces crushed tomatoes (1 can)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- Gently mix the ground beef, garlic, parsley, onion, egg and breadcrumbs in a bowl. Be careful not to overmix, or the meatballs will be tough.
- Lightly form the mixture into a dozen equally-sized meatballs.
- Place spaghetti sauce, crushed tomatoes and meatballs into a crockpot, cover and cook for 6-8 hours on low heat.
A PB&J is the perfect snack for those rare nights when everyone else is asleep and it's just you, your sandwich and a blissfully silent house.
Tips to Elevate This Anytime Classic
- For a healthier spin, use pieces of organic fruit, like bananas, berries or pomegranate instead of artificially-sweetened jelly, and swap almond butter, which is high in healthy omega-3 fats, for peanut butter.
- Place your completed sandwich on the griddle—or even in the waffle iron—for a warm, gooey treat that contains the perfect blend of crispy softness.
- Don't feel like you need to stick to the traditional white or wheat bread. Banana or zucchini bread, pancakes, bagels, club crackers, French toast, and crepes are all flavorful bases on which to construct your masterpiece.
- Experiment with different textures and flavors for fillings. Try different types of nut butters, like cashew, walnut, sunflower seed or macadamia. Many come in roasted or raw and creamy or crunchy varieties. See how these different butters pair with chunkier jams or preserves, like fig, rhubarb, ginger or apricot. Add a sprinkle of warm cinnamon, some chia or flax seeds, a dash of Sriracha for heat, or some granola for added crunch. The possibilities are endless!
Energy-Maximizing Mediterranean Wrap
For those members of the sandwich generation who feel so wrapped up in the lives of their parents and children that they don't know where their own lives begin, this low-carb sandwich may provide a much-needed energy boost to get everything untangled.
Use a whole grain or spinach wrap, salmon or lean chicken, olives, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, spinach, cucumbers and other vegetables, a few crumbles of feta cheese, a smear of hummus spread or Greek yogurt, and a squeeze of lemon to help you tap in to the many health benefits that can be found in Mediterranean foods. Sprinkling in some whole wheat couscous, quinoa or bulgur wheat can help boost the protein content and staying power of this pared-down sandwich.
The best part of this recipe is that you can improvise by using leftover proteins and any mix of vegetables and spreads you may have on hand to create a wholesome, hand-held meal that is perfect for caregivers on the go.
Indulgent Ice Cream Sandwiches
Sometimes caregivers just need a sweet treat, and they certainly deserve to indulge when you think about how much they accomplish on a regular basis.
- Make a healthier alternative to the traditional ice cream filling by blending up frozen bananas or frozen Greek yogurt. Add a splash of vanilla extract, a few pieces of fruit, a dash of caramel syrup, some nuts, or bits of dark chocolate for extra taste. Work in your favorite flavors and toppings to create a less indulgent but equally tasty “nice cream.”
- Sandwich your frozen dairy base between chewy chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies, brownies, donuts, waffles, slices of cake, cinnamon rolls, you name it.
Don't see your go-to sandwich on the list above? Have suggestions for some creative and mouth-watering spins on the recipes listed here? Weigh in using the comments section below!