It was in Arizona, sometime in the late seventies and the popularized food frenzy was all about ‘health food’. Spooned up in tablespoons daily was unfiltered apple cider vinegar chased with a shot of pure clover honey. Grape Nuts cereal lined bowls with small amounts of cold milk, and a broader range of vegetables nearby the locale of the state university became available through a newly formed ‘cooperative.’ Among some college agribusiness majors was the goal of affording, provided a stable location upon graduation, a full year’s subscription to the Rodale magazine, which was incidentally published in Pennsylvania.
Nutrition and fitness were where it was at, jogging, biking, the emergence of exercise facilities, and, not to forget, some version of power granola bar, this, something like a scene from the movie ‘Mean Girls’, is where Miss size 4 blossoms into a voluptuous size 8 thinking that these nutritional bars meant non caloric, or at least, as the newly coined term emerged was minimally, ‘low cal.’
Out went the shredded beef chimichangas topped with sour cream and guacamole, well, except for the craved monthly patronage between friends, along with some pitcher size Margaritas at the popular Willie and Guillermos Mexican restaurant. Out went the Patty Melts, out went homemade fried tortilla chips at the Top Shelf too, but never, ever, would it be considered to cut out the Lunt Avenue Marble Clubs’ famed fried zucchini with dip, ranch style that is, and after all, fried or not, this elongated green vegetable was healthy. Besides what else could be eaten while listening to the replica tunes of Fleetwood Mac whose band singer sounded like Stevie Nicks herself?
Likely the inspiration of combining freshly grown healthy produce between uncommon ingredients arrived via neighboring California, even before Alice Waters became a known household name. Whichever way, shortly before the apple cider vinegar, honey, and Grape nuts, one introductory with unique foodstuffs arrived in the form of small ‘health food restaurants’ emerging nestled into small shopping strips. How well these restaurants fared or how long they lasted I cannot recall but certainly they were a first introductory to eating prepared combinations that at the time were considered new flavor features such as creatively composed salads or stuffed grain bread sandwiches not commonly found lining the menus among the more popular restaurants of the time.
My friend Debby identified the first local restaurant dishing up these new health foods, partly that may have been because of her open mind in trying new things, and the other part that it was located right next door to the Baskin Robbins ice cream shop. Nevertheless, it was the avocado and alfalfa sprout sandwich that caught our attention and became a quick favorite.
Interestingly, arriving to the Philadelphia area in the early eighties, merely finding an avocado meant going to a gourmet market, paying a premium price, and then waiting for days to achieve full ripeness. The commonly great breads readily available came in the form of hoagie and kaiser rolls, and fresh Jewish Rye, throughout the east coast pocket, few knew there was much else to be had, certainly not grain breads. A couple of prized premium priced avocados also meant no consideration to preparing anything other than homemade guacamole.
Its been some time now that the once conceived ‘health foods’ of the time have now transitioned to commonly fresh ingredients obtained at any local grocer and fortunately today there is the luxury of preparing from among these first introductory of healthy, uniquely combined sandwiches, Avocado and Alfalfa Sprouts on Seven Grain Bread.
- 4 slices seven grain bread
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, approximately
- small pinch coarse kosher salt
- pinch cracked black pepper
- 1 ripe avocado, sliced
- 1 small tomato, sliced
- 4 thin to medium thick slices smoked pepper jack cheese each sandwich
- generous handful alfalfa sprouts each sandwich
- Generously spread mayonnaise on the inside top and bottom slices of bread. Sprinkle inside top slice with salt and pepper. Divide avocado onto the bottom half of both sandwiches, layer over tomato, cheese, alfalfa sprouts, finish with seasoned bread slices.