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Mar 12, 2011 09:43 AM

Natural Foods in Towson on Susquehanna Av, behind the Courthouse?

I'm trying to replicate a great sandwich that I used to get at a Natural Foods store in Towson. It was on Susquehanna Av, behind the Courthouse. They had a sandwich bar as well as other things for sale. The sandwich was on multi-grain coarse bread, with a slice of cheese (Colby?), lettuce tomato sprouts and the most aromatic spread imaginable. I'm sure it was the spread that made the sandwich. Any 'hounds out there remember it, or maybe used to work there? Would love to know how to make that again!
Best regards to all,

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  1. I should mention that this place closed some time ago. I don't live in Baltimore any more so not sure what's there now.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Guido

      Pretty sure it was munster cheese, I remember the sandwich, not sure what the spread was.

    2. You mean the "Health Concern" in Towson? I think its still open.

      That sounds like a typical Powerhouse sandwich to me. I used to work at a similar store in NW B'more back in the late 80's (long gone). We used a thick slice of Muenster cheese (or soy cheese, or baked tofu, if desired), a heavy 9 grain bread, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, sometimes mushrooms, and some soy mayo mixed with one of the natural spice blends the store sold to jazz it up a bit. This was my lunch every day (with a carrot juice) for, like, 2 years. Probably why I'm still alive.

      There was also a teeny little place/natural food market in Towson, kind of behind the Hutzlers building -- maybe even a basement if I recall, that sold delicious Powerhouse sandwiches too. Circa late 80's.

      4 Replies
      1. re: placidothecat

        Thats what I am remembering is the place behind the Hutzlers, wasn't the place called "The Powerhouse" and that was their signature sandwich?
        The Golden Temple on Charles Street used to sell them too.

        1. re: hon

          Golden Temple on Charles was a favorite too. Amazing, enormous, muffins and the best salad bar before Whole Foods came around.

        2. re: placidothecat

          Yes, that's it - the Powerhouse! What memories. Any chance of remembering what the spice blend was called? If that place is still open I'll try to get some of it sent to me in Boston.

        3. If you are thinking of the Powerhouse behind Hutzler's and Burger King, then sadly it has been oob for a long time. I don't know what happened to Jane and her wonderful powerhouse sandwich, but I can try to help with the recipe. I have tried for a long time to figure it out, and what I could not get was the seasoning she would shake over it. Here is what I came up with, and is really close in taste. Whole grain bread, the dense kind like you would get at Whole foods that they have to slice for you; romaine lettuce; tomato slices; alfalfa sprouts; havarti cheese; mayo; and for the seasoning a few dashes of the Beanos submarine oil dressing sold by the deli counter in most grocery stores. I know her seasoning was a dry blend, but this is close in taste. Let me know what you think.

          3 Replies
          1. re: honinbaltimore

            That's the sandwich, hon. I took Placido's recommendation above and called the Health Concern. They recommended their salad and sandwich herb blend. I had some shipped up to me, mixed it with mayo (Hellman's) and made the sandwich as you describe (well, no tomatoes, it's not the season). Used Munster but will try havarti, too. It was pretty good but not perfect, kind of too bland. So next I added some garlic granules from Penzeys and some onion salt. That made a huge difference, it's really close now. I think with the juice from some tomatoes it will be as good as it's going to get. Thanks, all you Balto 'hounds!

            1. re: Guido

              I worked at the store and made those sandwiches; the spice that you need is called "Spike" and you can get it in most health food/natural foods stores. We used Muenster cheese and 7-grain bread made by Shiloh farms, which I see at sometimes at MOM's and at Whole Foods. It went something like this: bread, mayo, alfalfa sprouts, spike seasoning, tomato, muenster cheese, romaine lettuce, bread. Sometimes we added avocado or mushrooms. We also made the most incredible milk shakes. Spike is also great on popcorn. I learned a lot about food and health at that store, but mostly I learned how to eat really well. I hope you get this post and find your spice.

          2. I believe that I can clear this up and I believe that I would be a viable source since I was the "chef" of the Juice Bar (the little eating spot) in The Health Concern on Susquehanna Avenue in Towson from (I believe) 1992/93 (almost a year). I've made literally hundreds of these sandwiches and so has my husband, who was my "prep cook" at the time! If my memory serves me correctly, I was in Towson about a year ago and the place was still open, but the original owner (Paul) passed away many years ago and I know the business was sold, but I don't know who bought it. Before he died, Paul had also bought The Golden Temple on Charles Street (between 23rd and 24th) and I DO know that place is gone and has been for some time.

            OK - first, regarding the Power House Sandwich, it is my understanding (and I've been researching it just today - that's how I found this post btw) the sandwich was invented in Los Angeles, Cali sometime in the late 1960s, The Manager of The Health Concern when I was there (and he had been there for many years) was a man called "Bob", who CLAIMED to be the inventor of the Power House Sandwich, but he's mistaken. I know this because I lived in LA for a year in 1987 and the REAL ORIGINAL health food store where the sandwich was invented was still in operation in Venice, Cali - but I cannot recall the name (I THINK it was called The Powerhouse - like the little place in Towson you all are talking about, but I'm not certain). I will find out and post it here when I do. ALL of the recipes of the sandwiches, salads and so forth at The Health Concern were created by the owner, Paul. There was a woman named Lee who was the Juice Bar chef for 17 years (when I got there) and SHE was the REAL MAGICIAN behind those recipes. She also was the one who created all the soups and main dishes for the juice bar. The reason they hired me was to eventually fire Lee - because Bob the Manager didn't like her. VERY UNFAIR because the customers LOVED her, she was a fantastic employee and person in general - PLUS the food creations were HERS. In my year spent there, I DID create a few things on my own, but when I TRIED to change ANY of the salad or sandwich recipes in ANY way, Paul NIXED it. He said the customers were used to these current recipes and why fix it if it isn't broken??? At any rate, I left and Lee stayed on for many more years, even after they closed the Juice Bar. She still worked in the kitchen and cooked for them!

            OK - back to the sandwich. The "spread" you are referring to may have been The Health Concern's Chick Pea Spread. Our two (actually 3) big sellers were The Power House, The Power House with Red Onion and The Power House with Chick Pea Spread. Don't confuse the chick pea spread with hummus, cuz it's a little different, but it is LOVELY on it's OWN on a sandwich with a slice of cheese and some sprouts, a dash of tamari and SPIKE (more on this later - yes scone (post below) you are right about the Spike seasoning!!! A lot of people really loved the spread on the Power House, so we made it a regular sandwich on the menu - they were always available (fresh) in the refrigerator case along with several other items. The chick pea spread was canned, organic garbanzo beans with a bit of the juice, processed with shredded carrots, fresh garlic, fresh minced organic parsley, fresh squeezed organic lemon juice, tahini (sesame butter), a bit of tamari (organic soy sauce), a bit of toasted sesame oil and a small amount of ground cayenne pepper. Like I said, it was wonderful on it's own, but added to a Power House it was fantastic!!!

            OK - the recipe for the sandwich - and some of you really have it right - especially scone (below). Start with one slice of 12 grain bread from Shiloh Farms (still available), a large crisp piece of deveined organic romaine lettuce, one thick slice of organic muenster cheese, a thick slice of organic tomato, a large dollop of HAIN safflower mayo (I actually prefer Hellmans', but that's me), a sprinkle of Spike (a gourmet blend of 30-odd herbs and spices that comes in a shaker jar but you can also buy it in bulk and it's available in the spice jar at most grocery stores. It contains a LOT of sodium, but they DO make a sodium-free version and they also have another blend called Veg-It that's very nice too. Spike has a red lid, Veg-It has a yellow lid, so you don't mistake them - they look A LOT ALIKE). Then, another slice of muenster, a handful of organic alfalfa sprouts, another sprinkle of Spike and the other slice of bread. That's it!

            It's my understanding that the ORIGINAL POWER HOUSE SANDWICH from Los Angeles also included a slice of red onion and slices of avocado. I DO love avocado on mine, but I don't care for the onion. A lot of people DO like the onion, that's why The Health Concern offered the sandwich with onion.

            It's funny because we are having Power House Sandwiches and mushroom/cheese melts for dinner tonight!!! I got my bread and I always get my Spike in bulk from Nature's Pantry on Harford Road in Parkville. She has such a nice little shop and the biggest gluten-free selection I have ever seen anywhere!!! Anyway...that's how this whole thing got started. I was looking again to see who invented the sandwich and saw Guido's post. Hope you have luck with your sandwiches!!!!! Peace.

            2 Replies
            1. re: LuannePerry

              MANY years ago I drove for Jimmys Cab which was right around the corner from "The Powerhouse" I went there every single day. Thats the place. It was in a very old single home that pretty much stood by itself. At some point they painted the building purple. When you stood looking at the building the parking was on the left side. And that is the sandwich. The Powerhouse.

              1. re: noreturn

                Spike was the seasoning used. My daughter in law worked there while she attended Goucher college! I loved reading you comments. I'm making on now. Hope you can access the picture

            2. I think they used oregano and honey mustard spread before it was popular. I love that sandwich!