Category Archives: Lunch

Mexican Kale Quinoa Salad

I can eat quinoa in so many ways, I throw it in stir frys, chili’s, in place of brown rice, but my husband doesn’t love quinoa, and will always go for the brown rice instead of quinoa. But this recipe is an exception. I think all the mexican foods, kale and the lime juice, masked the flavor and texture.He told me twice during dinner that he really liked this salad, and the next morning he had it for breakfast with some scrambled eggs on the side! If you’re looking for a good way to use this superfood, that contains all 9 essential amino acids, give this one a try!

THE RECIPE

Mexican Kale Quinoa Salad
Serves 6-8

1 c dry quinoa
1 1/2 c water
1/2 tsp sea salt, divided
3 c loosely packed, finely chopped kale, stems removed
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (include seeds if you like spice)
1/2  red onion, chopped (if you don’t love onion, try soaking in cold water for 10 min, drain then add to salad)
1/2 c chopped cilantro leaves
1 1/2 c cooked black beans (or a 15 oz can, rinsed and drained)
1/3 c lime juice (about 3 limes)
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c Feta cheese, crumbled (chopped olives work too)
1 avocado, sliced
1/2 c toasted pepitas (toast on cookie sheet in 350 degree oven for about 5-8 minutes)

In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring water, quinoa and 1/4 tsp salt to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until water has been absorbed. Transfer to a large salad bowl and fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool. Once cool, add the kale, bell pepper, jalapeno, onion, cilantro, back beans, lime juice, oil, Feta cheese and remaining 1/4 tsp sea salt to the quinoa and toss to combine. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve. Just before serving, top with the avocado slices and pepitas.

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Filed under Dinner, gluten-free, Lunch, Salads, Snacks/Sides/Appetizers, vegan, vegetarian

Daily Food Journal: 7 days

“Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” -Michael Pollan

I love the quote above and try to follow it, eating lots of plants, and real foods as opposed to foods made in a lab, and not too much. The ‘not too much’ is probably the hardest part for me because I love food! Awhile back I read the book  “French kids eat everything”  and it was interesting to learn that snacking or grazing is something that is not done all over the world, and is, in fact, thought of as rude in some areas, like France. But it makes sense that if kids, and adults don’t snack, and are actually hungry at mealtimes, of course foods taste better and they’ll eat more variety! And it’s a good way to keep your weight in check. Anyway, that’s a bit off topic for today so let’s get back on track.

I often get asked what I eat in a day, or what a typical day looks like with food, so I thought I’d share a sample week. And since I’m a very visual person, I’ve made a collage of those foods I eat in a day. I really only have a couple of snacks(hummus and veggies, lara bar, fruit or shake) and lunch items(wraps, salad and oatmeal) that I eat regularly, though a couple of times a week I might have leftover dinner for lunch, so that does add variety. My breakfast almost never changes, besides adding a little something extra on Saturdays before my long run like a banana, rice cake with almond butter or a Superhero muffin. So you’ll see that I have my hot lemon water and green smoothie pictured daily. Also, the only thing I drink besides my smoothies/vegan protein shakes is water. And I drink a lot of water throughout the day, probably around 90 oz.

I’m pretty regular about when I wake up, go to sleep, and the times of day I eat so I thought I’d lay that out for you here as well:
515 am wake up, drink room temperature water from my water bottle on my nightstand (around 16 oz);
6-730 am exercise and drink water
8am  12oz hot lemon water
830am 32 oz green smoothie (I drink this over about an hour)
1130am lunch (if I’m really hungry before lunch, I’ll have a piece of fruit like a banana)
230pm snack
6pm dinner
930-10 asleep

Monday:
Breakfast: hot lemon water and green smoothie 
Lunch: wrap (lettuce, tomato, black beans, avocado, hummus, onion on Teff wrap)
Snack: rice cake with 1/2 Tbsp almond butter and apple slices
Dinner: salad and vegan Mac and Cheese

Tuesday:
Breakfast: hot lemon water and green smoothie
Lunch: Oatmeal with slice strawberries and coconut, and toast with coconut oil
Snack: banana and Lara Bar (my favorites are lemon, coconut cream pie, blueberry muffin and cherry pie; it’s nice to have a grab and go snack with no added sugars. Lara bars only have a few ingredients which are usually dates and some form of nuts and dried fruits)
Dinner: Enchilada Soup  and salad (not pictured)

Wednesday:
Breakfast: hot lemon water and green smoothie
Lunch: Granola with plain yogurt, honey and sliced strawberries
Snack: Maca Date Shake (I usually have this multiple times a week)
Dinner: veggie Stir Fry and watermelon

Thursday:
Breakfast: hot lemon water and green smoothie
Lunch: Oatmeal with toast
Snack: Vegan Protein Shake
Dinner: Baked Sweet Potato, Mexican Style (the rest of the family used Russet potatoes) and an orange

Friday:
Breakfast: hot lemon water and green smoothie
Lunch: Leftover veggie Stir Fry
Snack: 2 almond flax balls and a banana
Dinner: Homemade Whole Grain Pizza and salad (sometimes I like to put my salad on top and not use any dressing). We make pizza weekly.

Saturday:
Pre-long run: banana and Superhero muffin
Breakfast: hot lemon water and green smoothie
Lunch: Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich
S
nack : Hummus with veggies and sweet potato crackers or Ak Mak crackers
Dinner: Black bean, egg and veggie burrito (often Saturday night, Scott and I will go out to dinner and kids will get leftovers or something easy like spaghetti or Little Caesar’s Pizza…yes, I said it, we get Little Caesar’s for the kids. Don’t judge).

Sunday:
Breakfast: hot lemon water and green smoothie
Lunch: leftover Mexican Quinoa Salad
Snack: Banana
Dinner: Breakfast; usually pancakes or waffles with eggs and hashbrowns…sorry I couldn’t fit everything into the picture, but Sunday dinner is a BIG breakfast. Here is our pancakes with Squash and Onion Frittata.

And just so we’re clear here, I do have treats. Usually on the weekend I’ll have a bowl of popcorn with Strawberry Aussie licorice, and then probably once a week I’ll bake something using a healthier sweetener, like our peanut butter cookies, PB popcorn, candy bars, key lime pie or honey sweetened muffins etc and I’ll have some, but I try to limit my sugar consumption and stick to having a treat or two on the weekend.

 

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Filed under Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch

Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich

If you like egg salads and avocados, you’re going to love this! This is a great way to use hard boiled eggs, which is something we often have on hand. This recipe serves one because I usually make this just for myself for lunch, but feel free to double or triple the recipe if you’re having lunch with a friend (or if you just want more :))

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Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich
*makes 1 open-face sandwich

1 hard boiled egg
1/4 medium avocado
1 Tbsp plain greek yogurt
1 Tbsp chopped green onions
salt and pepper to taste
1 slice whole grain bread
6-10 baby spinach leaves

Mash avocado in a small mixing bowl. Peel and chop the egg and add to the avocado. Add the yogurt, green onions, salt and pepper and stir together. Toast bread, add a layer of baby spinach and then top with the avocado egg salad. Eat immediately. Makes 1 sandwich.

241 calories: 10 g fat, 30 g carbs, 7 g protein

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Tomato, Avocado and Bean Wrap

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Life is busy these days, whether you work, go to school or are a stay at home mom (like me with my five kids!) and I’m always looking for ways to save time, and that includes with food. But at the same time, I am not willing to sacrifice my health or the health of my family for convenience. Since we’ve been eating healthy, whole foods for the past 6 or so years, I’ve learned a few things about making quick and healthy meals. Planning ahead and being prepared is important because when I’m hungry and needing to eat, I’m not going to wait for something to cook for very long, and I’m not going to take the time to chop up a million different things. For example, I make my crock pot of black beans once a week, freeze half, and now I’ve got fresh and yummy home made black beans all week long that I can use for dinner or throw in my salads at lunch. And my crock pot black beans literally take 5 minutes to prep. Black beans are not expensive either, so now you’ve got healthy, quick food on a budget. I do the same thing with my quinoa and brown rice. I usually make one batch a week and just store it in the fridge and then it’s ready to grab and go for a quick meal.

I also find it helpful to cut up an entire head of lettuce, chop up a whole onion, cucumber, bell pepper, tomato or whatever produce I’ll be using at one time, that way I only have to take out, wash, and then clean up after this whole chopping process once and then they’re  all ready to go. I am SO much more likely to have a big salad for lunch when things are all ready pre-cut (and cooked like my black beans) because I’m so busy that I’m usually feeling very hungry by the time I can even think about food and if I have to take out all my separate produce items and wash them and cut them etc, I just end up doing something faster and easier. So, planning and prepping is important. And do it on a day/time that’s not super busy for you.

I often have salads or leftovers for lunch, and sometimes I’ll change up my salad by putting everything in a wrap. You can use whatever kind you like. If I have homemade whole wheat tortillas left over then I’ll use those, but I don’t like the store bought wheat tortillas so I’ll sometimes get these Teff wraps from Sprouts when they’re on sale. I like to warm up my wrap for about 30 seconds before I put all my toppings inside so that it’s nice a pliable. 2016-10-27-12-19-26There is no particular way of doing this, and you really can use whatever veggies you like or have on hand, but I will almost always use either avocados or hummus for creaminess, I love to use black beans and sometimes I’ll put some quinoa in there(both of those things make it so much more filling and add a ton in nutrition), and I love tomatoes and red onions and greens or sprouts etc.  I pull out my containers from the fridge with all my chopped veggies and I can throw this wrap together in one minute. Bam, done! And it’s healthy! I make this faster than I do my daughters PB&J (natural pb of course, and I get the fruit juice sweetened jelly).

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Tomato, Avocado and Bean Wrap

Toppings:
Tomato, chopped
Red onion, chopped
Avocado, cut in cubes
Black Beans
Hummus
lettuce, chopped
Sprouts
cucumber, diced or julienned
quinoa
Wrap/Tortilla of choice (I like the Teff wraps better than most store-bought whole grain tortillas; warm it up for 30 seconds then add your toppings)

Warm up wrap for 30 seconds in microwave. Spread on a spoonful of hummus, then add whatever toppings you like. Roll up like a burrito, cut in half and it’s ready to eat!

 

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Pasta Salad and Dressing Recipe

We eat a lot of different salads for dinner during the summer; it’s nice to have something cool to eat on a hot day. I’ll typically add whatever veggies I have on hand in my fridge at the moment, so it changes from week to week, and in the pasta salad pictured below we have tomatoes, celery, bell pepper, cubed cheese, white beans and onion. Sometimes we’ll add nuts or serve some chicken or pepperoni on the side for the meat lovers in our house.

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I will sometimes use an Italian salad dressing or something similar for convenience, but I actually love homemade dressing so much more; it really makes the salad. So if I have 5 minutes, I’ll whip this up.

Here are your ingredients for the dressing:

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Whisk it all together in a glass measuring dish and stick it in the fridge while you cook your pasta.

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We use various shapes but one of our favorites is the bowtie, and it’s fun when we get a pasta with a little color. We cooked up a bag of costco pasta which is just over a pound, drained it, rinsed it with cold water as I swish the pasta around with my hand (to help quickly cool it down…we don’t want our cheese cubes melting onto our pasta), then transfer it to a large mixing bowl, add the dressing, stir it to combine and then you can serve it from there or transfer it to a pretty bowl. If you’re not going to eat it right away, you can store it in the fridge for at least a day.

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Pasta Salad:
*serves 6-8

1 lb uncooked pasta (we love to use bowtie)
Topping Ideas:
bell pepper, chopped
grape tomatoes, halved
celery, chopped
red onion, chopped
1 c cooked and drained white beans
1 c cubed cheddar cheese
1 c cubed chicken, or pepperoni quartered

Pasta Salad Dressing:
*makes enough to cover 1 lb pasta

1/2 c mayo
1/3 c white wine vinegar
1/4 c  olive oil
1/4 c plain yogurt (or sour cream)
2 cloves minced garlic (1 tsp)
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp sea salt

Combine all your pasta salad dressing ingredients into a glass measuring dish and whisk to combine. Set aside, in fridge. Follow package directions for uncooked pasta, bringing water to a boil and cooking until done. While it’s cooking, chop up any combination of veggies/cheese/beans/meat you like and place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.  Dump pasta into a strainer over your kitchen sink, then rinse with cold water as you move pasta around with your hand (be careful, it’s hot). Once pasta is cool, add it to your veggies in the large mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over top. Stir it all together to combine. Serve right away or cover and store in fridge.

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Vegetarian Sushi

When I was a child, I was always turned off by the word “sushi” probably because I associated it with fish and foreign foods. I still don’t like fish, but I’ve had some very yummy, vegetarian sushi’s since then, and this is a recipe, that I love. It has a homemade sauce in it that is delicious! This is a beautiful appetizer, filled with healthy fats and other amazing veggies and grains, that would be great served at a social gathering, or just at home with your family.

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Start off by making a sauce. Whisk together the syrup, mustard, onions and liquid aminos. Set the sauce aside.

Place the shiner side of a nori sheet(seaweed sheet found at health food stores on Asian aisle) on counter top or cutting board(shinier side just makes it look prettier, but doesn’t change flavor). With a spoon, spread 1/3 c quinoa over about half of the nori sheet. Leave 1 inch free of quinoa at top and bottom of Nori sheet. Push down  with the back of a spoon to compact quinoa. Spoon  a quarter of reserved sauce evenly over the quinoa. Arrange 1/4 of carrots, peppers, cucumbers and avocado near (and parallel to) the bottom edge of the nori sheet, which is the end closest to you.

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Roll the nori up tightly and seal the top edge with a little bit of water. Set the finished roll on a large plate and repeat process with the remaining nori sheet.

If you’re just making this for yourself, as I did for lunch the other day, you can just eat it like this (think of a rolled up sushi burrito) and skip the cutting stage:

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Using a very sharp knife(I used my butcher knife), cut each roll into 6 pieces. Can try wetting knife a bit if you’re having some issues cutting.

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THE RECIPE:

Quinoa and Veggie Sushi (lightly adapted from Kimberly Snyder)
*makes 4 rolls or about 24 individual pieces

Secret Sauce:
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp minced red onions
2 tsp braggs liquid aminos (soy sauce)
4 Nori sheets (seaweed sheet found at health food stores on Asian aisle)
1 1/2 c cooked quinoa
1/3 c julienned  bell peppers (any color)
1/3 c julienned carrots
1 medium ripe avocado, cut into thin slices
optional: 1/3 c julienned cucumbers

Make a sauce by whisking together the syrup, mustard, onions and liquid aminos. Set sauce aside. Place the shiner side of a nori sheet on counter top or cutting board(shinier side just makes it look prettier, but doesn’t change flavor). With a spoon, spread 1/3 c quinoa over about half of the nori sheet. Leave 1 inch free of quinoa at top and bottom of Nori sheet. Push down firmly with the back of a spoon to compact quinoa. Spoon  a quarter of reserved sauce evenly over the quinoa. Arrange 1/4 of carrots, peppers, cucumbers and avocado near (and parallel to) the bottom edge of the nori sheet, which is the end closest to you. Roll the nori up tightly and seal the top edge with a little bit of water. Set the finished roll on a large plate and repeat process with the remaining nori sheet. Using a very sharp knife(I had the most success with my butcher knife), cut each roll into 6 pieces. Can try wetting knife a bit if you’re having some issues cutting. Serve immediately or cover and store in fridge until ready to serve (within a day or two).

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Filed under gluten-free, Lunch, Snacks/Sides/Appetizers, vegan, vegetarian

Apple Peanut Butter Sandwich

If you’re feeling like having something a little different for lunch, or mixing things up for your kids school lunch, these apple sandwiches are perfect! I love the idea of having a simple and easy sandwich, but I don’t love eating that much bread every day, so I particularly love these. They are also one of my kids favorite after school snacks, but they don’t like to wait for food to get ‘fixed’ so I try to have them ready before they walk in the door.

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To make these you take an eating apple (dimpled kind, not the all round and fat kind, like Granny’s that are for baking) like Fuji, Breaburn, Gala etc and slice it horizontally. Cut out the core from the slices (or core, then slice; I just always have problems doing it that way :)). On one apple slice, spread with 1 Tbsp peanut butter, then top with another apple slice. Use remaining apple slices to make a second sandwich.

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THE RECIPE:

Apple Peanut Butter Sandwich
*makes 2 sandwiches

1 large eating apple (we love gala, fuji and braeburn)
2 Tbsp peanut butter (or almond butter)

Core 1 apple and slice it horizontally, into circular slices (Or slice, then core). Top with 1 tbsp peanut or almond butter and a second apple slice. Enjoy!

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Healthy School Lunch Ideas

I just updated my waffle recipe which, after making them for my kids “first day of school, special breakfast”, I realized was not so special. Why? Because, though I got the recipe right in the details of my post and I said I used baking powder, when I wrote the recipe at the end of the post, I accidentally typed baking soda, which I followed  yesterday when I made them, and it made them taste quite bitter and gross. We ended up throwing the entire batch away after a couple people tried them. So I apologize if you did the same thing that I did and just skipped down to the bottom of the recipe and made a waffle that was not edible. I’ve updated that recipe now and you can find it here, and I promise it’ll taste much better this time.

Yesterday, was in fact, my kids first day of school and we have four of our five children in the elementary this year from Kindergarten up to Sixth grade. We loved our long summer that we were able to have because of our out-of-state move and I’m already missing having them around all day.

I don’t load my kids lunch account with money and let them buy everyday, but rather we pack lunches from home and then they have the option to buy once a week, though my sixth grader told me she’s decided she’s not going to buy the entire year because the lunches are gross. We’ll see how that goes, because I know last year they liked having a “day off” when they didn’t have to make lunch. If she follows through, perhaps I’ll offer to give her a ‘day off’ by making her lunch one day each week.

My goal for this post is to give you some healthy, real food lunch ideas, things we’ve done and liked, for some added lunch inspiration :). We try and prep lunches the night before so mornings are less rushed, but I’d say that only actually happens half the time, and the other half the time they just throw together a sandwich and grab an apple and run out the door, so we have some room for improvement. Here are some of the things we like to pack in our lunches:

Apple slices I do the morning of so they don’t turn brown. We’ve tried the orange and lemon juice thing but my kids don’t love that flavor and we find that they still usually turn a little brown. Triscuits are a great whole grain cracker with very minimal ingredients, especially the plain triscuits. Grapes are always a favorite fruit to pack. When we pack cheese, hard boiled eggs or something else that is usually refrigerated, I’ll throw a couple ice packs into their lunch sacks as well.

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Homemade snacks are always fun to bring as well. The kids love when we have muffins or granola bars they can pack. Here’s a banana muffin recipe we love in addition to the honey oat one above. I love that we can freeze the muffins and pull one out in the morning and stick it in their lunch container, and by lunch time, it’s defrosted and ready to eat. I usually freeze our muffins in a big tupperware container but you could also use a freezer gallon ziploc bag.

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Leftovers are great, like this leftover pasta salad and the whole grain crescent roll. Homemade trail mixes are great as well; in the one below we have almonds, cashews and raisins. Sometimes when we’re packing a lunch that requires ice packs, I’ll do a couple of cold foods, so along with the pasta salad we also have hard boiled eggs. If I just had pasta salad, I’d probably stick it in a thermos and that’d work great, too.

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Another homemade favorite the kids like to bring for lunch are taquitos and pizza. I don’t warm those up, they just put them in their lunch sack and eat them at room temperature.

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Here we have another homemade trail mix, triscuits, cheese cubes, cantaloupe and cucumber slices.

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Ants on a log is another yummy and nutritious food to add…we have peanut-free tables at our school but if you didn’t, then this might not be a possibility for you.

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Here we have a grilled cheese sandwich, peach slices, carrot slices, popcorn and cantaloupe.

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Peanut Butter and a ‘fruit only’ Jelly on whole wheat bread, carrots with a little Newman’s Own Ranch dressing, popcorn, peaches, and cheese cubes with a toothpick (for some reason, cheese cubes taste better when eaten with a toothpick, or so the children tell me)

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5 year old Jane found a heart-shaped cookie cutter and cut this shape out of her Peanut Butter and Honey sandwich all on her own :). She actually won’t have school lunches for another year, until she’s in first grade, but she likes to pack lunches for picnics on occasion.

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Here we have granola in a dish with a lid, just big enough to pour milk over top once they’re at school, the milk is in a thermos and we have peach slices on the side. If you forget a spoon for the granola and milk, most cafeterias should  have plastic or silverware they can use.  We also do a lot of soups, chili, and spaghetti in thermos containers when the weather cools.

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I hope this post has inspired you with some ideas for nutritious and creative lunches you can pack at home. Have a great week!

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Chicken and Cabbage Salad

I don’t like meat so I rarely eat it. Scott and most of the kids like meat so I still cook it about once a week, and it’s usually shredded or cubed chicken that is a part of something else like in enchiladas or burritos or salad. My aversion to meat started during one of my pregnancies, because I couldn’t stand the smell.  With each consecutive pregnancy, it got worse and I finally realized I just really don’t like meat.  The only time I’ll have some chicken is 1.) I’m at a friends and that’s what they’re serving so I’ll have a little with more of whatever else is being served and 2.) if it’s shredded and served in a chicken salad where the dressing will mask the flavor of the chicken, and even then, I’ll still pull a lot of the chicken out. This chicken salad recipe has a very yummy, homemade dressing and it has more plants in it than meat which I like.

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I’ve made this salad several different ways with mango and without, with jalapeno and without and they were all good. My favorite was with the mango and with just a little bit of jalapeno. If you don’t like spicy foods, you can leave the jalapeno out all together. Or, if you like just a little bit of spice, you could add 1/8 tsp of red pepper flakes to your dressing.

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For the dressing, I like to use plain yogurt rather than your typically used mayo. I also used an all fruit mango and pineapple jam, but any mango jam would work.

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You’ll want to chop, dice and shred all your salad ingredients and add them to a medium sized mixing bow. In a separate small bowl or in a liquid measuring dish, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Pour the dressing over the salad mixture and toss gently to combine. It’s best when it’s been refrigerated for at least 30 minutes. It’s also great as leftovers for several days.

 

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2015-05-09 13.15.57THE RECIPE:

Chicken and Cabbage Salad

1 c shredded cooked chicken
1 stalk diced celery
1/4 c sliced green onions
2 c thinly sliced cabbage
1  peeled and diced mango
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 c slivered almonds
optional: 1 Tbsp diced jalapeno (if you like these spicy)
optional: 1/4 c craisins

Dressing:
1/4 c mango jam (I use an all natural, no refined sugar added, mango and pineapple jam)
1/4 c plain yogurt (I like the fage brand)
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/8 tsp sea salt
Black pepper to taste, (I do 1-2 twists)

Combine chicken, celery, onions, cabbage, mango cilantro, almonds and craisins in a medium sized bowl. Whisk together the dressing in a small bowl or liquid glass measuring  dish. Add the dressing to the chicken mixture and gently combine. For best results, chill at least 30 minutes before serving. Can eat as is or serve on a croissant or roll.

 

 

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Grilled Cheese, Tomato and Pesto Sandwich

 My two young girls and I were invited over to a friends house for lunch last week (while older kids were in school). She made us all grilled cheese sandwiches and salad, though the adult sandwiches she made gourmet-style and added some tomato and pesto which I loved! Later that week I made them a couple of more times for my family and added avocado as well, since we’re all big fans of avocado around here. My young girls ate theirs with avocado, but preferred to go without the pesto and tomato. My ten and 9 year old ate it, but minus the tomato.  I love the slightly crispy outer bread texture, combined with the melted cheese, fresh tomato and creamy avocado; it makes my mouth water just writing about it :).

This recipe makes one sandwich because, these days, I’ll  make one for myself for lunch, while Jane and Nora eat a PB&J or a plain cheese sandwich, but feel free to double, triple, quadruple the recipe for a group.

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THE RECIPE:

Grilled Cheese, Tomato and Pesto Sandwich
*makes one sandwich

1/2 Tbsp butter
2 slices whole wheat bread
2 Tbsp Pesto
1/3 c mozzarella cheese, grated or sliced
2 slices Roma tomato (or one slice of beef tomato)
optional: 3 slices avocado

Warm up your pancake griddle or skillet to medium heat. On one slice of bread, spread half of your butter. Place it on the skillet, butter side down, and immediately spread with 1 Tbsp pesto, cheese, tomato and optional avocado (this layering process should only take you a couple of minutes, during which time your cheese will begin to melt). Spread second slice of bread with pesto and lay, pesto side down, onto the sandwich. Spread top of bread with remaining butter and then flip. Allow it to cook another minute until light brown, and crispy.

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