Monday, March 30, 2009

The Properly Combined Sandwich

I adore fresh salads and generally rely upon them as my midday meal of choice. But sometimes I get tired of eating salad every afternoon, simply because I want to take a break from using utensils! In such cases, I want my salad to be somehow contained in a neat tidy package, so I can pick it up and just bite in with freedom and abandon. What I really want is... a sandwich!

Of course, sandwiches are usually made with bread, a food item that rarely appears in my dietary repertoire. This is why I love the Veggie Wrap concept. Any salad combo can be rolled into a nori sheet or large green leaf (think cabbage, collard or romaine) to create a satisfying sandwich sub.

Typically when I don't want the salad in a bowl, I wrap it up this way. But there are days when I crave something more substantial to accompany my fresh raw greens, something chewy and grainy...hmmm. What could that be? Bread, perhaps?

We all know that a standard sandwich involves bread plus a protein filling, say peanut butter, cheese or meat. The problem here is that, as explained in an earlier post, eating bread with protein is a no-no. Starches don't combine well with proteins due to the conflicting types of digestive enzyme environments they require (alkaline for starches, acid for proteins). Eating them together overburdens the digestive system, saps your energy for hours to follow and can lead to gas, bloating and weight gain. The best thing to combine with starches (or proteins, for that matter) is vegetables alone. So what's a lunchtime sandwich craver to do?

Enter the Properly Combined Sandwich (PCS). Basically, this is simply a raw vegetable sandwich on whole grain bread with condiments and avocado, if desired. (The veggies are usually raw but you can use cooked veggies as well from time to time.) To my knowledge, the official PCS title was coined by Harvey Diamond, a natural hygiene proponent, in his bestselling 1985 book Fit for Life. You'll see it used by many others as well, because, well, the concept is here to stay!

So. To create a Properly Combined Sandwich, start with the highest quality 100% sprouted grain bread or 100% whole spelt bread (or wraps) available. Perhaps your local natural bakery can be of service here. If not, both the Alvarado Street Bakery and Food for Life companies make tasty sprouted grain breads, bagels and tortillas that may be found in the freezer section of many grocery stores across the country.

Next, consider fillings. While raw veggies like tomato, lettuce, sprouts are famous typical sandwich supporting players, in the Properly Combined Sandwich they earn starring roles. And top billing goes to that most creamy and delectable of starch-friendly vegetable-fruits, the avocado. (I eat avocados every day I can get my hands on them - they are one of my favorite foods...)

Condiments like stone ground or dijon mustard, organic salsa and miso can also be important features in the Properly Combined Sandwich. Spread a little mustard on your sprouted grain bread, add a layer of sliced avocado and pile high with veggies of your choice: spinach, lettuce, mushrooms, tomato, sprouts, grated carrot, chopped garlic, parsley, red onion, cilantro - the sky's the limit.

I recommend eating one or two open faced sandwiches rather than a single two-slice number to maximize your raw veggie intake. Place a flat leaf of lettuce on top if you need something to hold onto. Alternatively, toss a raw salad with your favorite dressing, add avocado and spoon into a sprouted grain tortilla lightly spread with mellow white miso. Roll, wrap and eat - incredible! Or fill a corn tortilla with chopped lettuce, avocado, green onion and salsa to create a soft taco style sandwich.

A Properly Combined Sandwich is fresh, colorful and delicious. Best of all, it digests beautifully, so it won't cause you to bloat up or gain excess weight. In fact, you may even lose weight eating this way. And with so many veggies to use for fillings, the Properly Combined Sandwich never gets boring! Just remember to save any dense protein items (hummus, raw goat cheese, almond butter) for your starch-free green leaf and nori wraps.


stace said...

Wonderful! I hadnt found the sprouted bread in the freezer section of my store yet. I will look! Also thanks for the reminder that hummus is considered a protein. I am never sure where certain beans and such fall.

Diana Allen, MS, CNS said...

Stace, I hope you can find the bread at your store - if not, the company website might have a store locater. Yes, hummus and beans are kind of food combining "floaters," being a built in protein-starch combo all on their own. In general, while beans are pretty tough for most people to digest, they seem to combine best as a starch. You can get away with brown rice and beans once in a while but usually, you're better off saving the rice for a different meal and eating your beans along with lots of raw and cooked veggies. (Perhaps along with a few digestive enzyme capsules as well...!) Beans combine much better with squashes, which are watery and fibrous, than with grains.