Grilled Strawberry and Goat Cheese Sandwich

With kids getting ready to go back to school and many people squeezing in one last vacation, it almost seems like summer is over. But here in the Northeast, we still have plenty of summer left to enjoy, including a wonderful fruit and vegetable bounty. As a Dietitian, the abundance of sweet seasonal summer fruit is one of my favorite things about August.

Fresh Strawberries

When I feel so tired and sluggish from the heat, biting into a sweet berry or a juicy watermelon will perk me right up. That’s why I used seasonal strawberries to create this delicious Grilled Strawberry and Goat Cheese Sandwich. A twist on the classic spinach and strawberry salad, this sandwich combines savory goat cheese with sweet strawberries and a homemade balsamic glaze. And, of course, I threw in some spinach for added iron and calcium.

Grilled Strawberry & Goat Cheese Ingredients

The best part about this sandwich is that I got to use the panini press function on my new T-Fal OptiGrill.

t-fal optigrillThis grill is perfect for summer grilling in NYC (since I clearly don’t have a backyard with a grill). Its “Automatic Sensor Cooking” technology immediately detects the number of items placed on the grill and their thickness in order to adjust the temperature and cooking time automatically. You can choose from six pre-set programs: Burgers, Poultry, Sandwiches, Sausages, Red Meat, and Fish or the manual mode for fruits, vegetables or any personal recipes. Obviously, I’m a vegetarian, but my boyfriend is constantly cooking salmon to the perfect temperature on this grill.  My favorite use for the grill is to quickly create a mean panini or to grill up some summer fruit, like in this Grilled Peach & Blackberry Salsa recipe. Even if you don’t have the OptiGrill, you can make this Grilled Strawberry and Goat Cheese Sandwich on a skillet.

Grilled Strawberry & Goat Cheese Sandwich

Disclosure: I received a free OptiGrill to test. All opinions are my own, and I was not additionally compensated for my time. 

Grilled Strawberry and Goat Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, washed and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup spinach, washed

Instructions

  1. Add the balsamic vinegar to a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 6-8 minutes or until the vinegar is reduced by half. Once it's thick and syrupy, remove from heat.
  2. Lay out two slices of bread. Add 1 tablespoon of goat cheese to each slice and spread evenly. Drizzle the balsamic reduction onto the goat cheese.
  3. Top one slice of bread with sliced strawberries and spinach. Place the other slice of bread on top to form a sandwich.
  4. If using a panini press, put the sandwich in press and grill until you see grill marks and the cheese is melted. If not, heat a skillet over medium heat. Put the sandwich in the pan and place something heavy (like a plate) on top. Cook for 3-5 minutes and flip the sandwich and repeat.
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Grilled Strawberry & Goat Cheese Sandwich

 

Meatless Monday: Chickpea Salad Sandwich With Sweet Apple Slaw

As many of you know, I’m a vegetarian. It’s my way of life, and I do it for a multitude of reasons, such as health benefits, the environment and affordability.  I don’t try to push my vegetarian lifestyle onto anyone, but I do think everyone would benefit from skipping the meat one day per week.  That’s why I’m going to try to post more Meatless Monday recipes, like this delicious Chickpea Salad Sandwich With Sweet Apple Slaw.

T H E U L T I M A T E D I N N E R T R E A T

With that being said, all of my recipes are meatless, and I think they are perfect any night of the week.

If you know me and my cooking style, then you know that I create simple, yet delicious, healthy food.  This sandwich is a twist on two classics: tuna salad and cole slaw. This chickpea salad doesn’t contain any mayo, but uses a combo of mashed avocado and cottage cheese to give a delicious creaminess.  The sweet slaw counteracts the tanginess of the chickpea salad and adds a bit of a crunch. The beans, veggies, dairy, oils and fruits makes this sandwich packed with fiber, protein, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats.  Talk about a well balanced lunch! And, as many of my fellow vegetarians know, it’s not always easy to find a good vegetarian sandwich that isn’t just cheese. So, enjoy this for a Meatless Monday lunch or dinner and your health and environment will thank you!

Half Chickpea Sandwich

Makes 3-4 sandwiches

Ingredients:
Chickpea Salad:
2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 avocado, peeled and de-seeded
1/2 cup cottage cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 small white onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Slaw:
1 cup sliced red and green cabbage
1 red apple, grated
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper for taste
Extras:
Whole wheat bread
Spinach or lettuce

Chickpea Salad Sandwich 4

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, combine the chickpeas and lemon zest. Process until mostly smooth, with small chunks.
  2. In a separate bowl, mash the avocado with a fork. Add the cottage cheese and lemon juice, and stir until combined.
  3. Add the carrots, onions, salt and chickpeas to the bowl with the avocado mixture and stir.Chickpea Salad Sandwich 3
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the cabbage and grated red apple. In a small bowl make the dressing by whisking together the oil, vinegar, mustard, and honey. Pour the dressing over the slaw.
  5. Toast the bread, and then assemble the sandwich.  On the bread, layer the spinach or lettuce, chickpea salad and slaw.

Veggie & Quinoa Quesadilla with Lime Slaw

Okay, honest moment… I do cook a lot, but I don’t have the time or energy to make something new every night. I have a signature “go-to” meal when I’m pressed for time and lacking motivation, and it’s this delicious Veggie & Quinoa Quesadilla with Lime Slaw. I almost always have most of these ingredients on hand, so I whip this together in 20 minutes several days each week (I actually just ate it for dinner before writing this post). Because I’ve heard from many of you that you like my simple approach to food and nutrition, I figured I should share my easiest meal. Whip this Quesadilla up for any Meatless Monday and everyone will be pleased!

Veggie Quesadilla

 

Makes 2 Quesadillas

Ingredients:
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small sweet potato, chopped into cubes
2 teaspoons Chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup water
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small yellow squash, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Chipotle Chili seasoning
1 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 whole wheat tortillas
1/3 cup cheddar cheese
Optional toppings:
sliced avocado
Greek yogurt
diced tomatoes

Veggie Quesadilla close up

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.
  2. In a bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, sweet potato, 1 teaspoon of chili powder and salt. Stir to mix.  Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until tender.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the quinoa and water in a pot.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.
  4. While the quinoa is cooking, heat a frying pan over medium heat.  When the pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, zucchini and yellow squash.  Sautee 5-7 minutes or until the zucchini is tender. Add 1 teaspoon of chili powder and Chipotle Chili and stir.  If needed, season with salt.
  5. In a bowl, combine the thinly sliced cabbage, olive oil and juice of 1/2 a lime. Stir to combine.
  6. If you have a Foreman grill or quesadilla maker, turn them on now. Lay the tortilla out flat.  Layer one side with cheese, quinoa, zucchini mixture, sweet potatoes and an extra sprinkle of cheese. Fold the tortilla in half.Veggie Quesadilla before
  7. If you don’t have a Foreman grill or tortilla maker, heat skillet over medium heat. Place the folder tortilla on the Foreman, quesadilla maker or skillet and grill until the tortilla starts to  brown and get crispy.  It should take about 5 minutes.
  8. Once the tortilla is brown and crispy on each side, remove from the pan. Open up the tortilla and pile in the Lime Slaw. Feel free to add any of the other optional toppings too!

VEGGIE & QUINOA QUESADILLA.jpg

 

 

Meatless Monday: Vanilla or Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

I have two exciting things for you this Monday morning:

  1. My first ever video recipe!

2. A high protein meatless snack for Meatless Monday: Vanilla or Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding!

Vanilla and Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding.jpg

This week, I created a video teaching you how to make Vanilla or Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding.  Chia seeds were featured in my first video on 5 High Protein Vegetarian Sources That You May Not Know About.  Now, I’m teaching you how to use them in the video below!

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding overhead.jpg

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

3/4 cup of Vanilla Almond Milk or Chocolate Milk

1 tablespoon of non-fat Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons of Chia seeds

Sliced strawberries (optional)

Shredded coconut (optional)

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

Directions:

1) In a bowl, combine the milk (use only one type of milk), yogurt and chia seeds and combine with a whisk.

2) Pour the chia seed mixture in a container and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours (preferably overnight).

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

3) When ready to serve, top with sliced strawberries and shredded coconut.

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding with Strawberry Topping

30-Day Healthy Living Challenge: Day 11

Today’s Day 11 Challenge kills two birds with one stone (without killing any birds, of course).

Day 11 Challenge: Meatless Monday, Part 2

The rules and reasons for going Meatless are the same as Day 4, but there’s a special addition with this post: a recipe inspired by The Recipe ReDux’s Progresso Comfort Food Challenge.  Progresso has a new line of Cooking Stock that tastes homemade because it is made with real vegetables. Progresso challenged Recipe ReDux members to use their new stock to make one of our favorite comfort food dishes. In case you needed a little extra inspiration for your Meatless Monday challenge, here’s a recipe for a delicious Mexican Pizza.

day 11Mexican rice and beans is one of my all-time favorite comfort food vegetarian dishes. This recipe uses Progresso’s Vegetable stock to make  delicious, flavorful rice and beans that can be made in one pot and served up by themselves.  The stock really adds so much more flavor to the rice and beans than boiling in just water. Even better than a hearty bowl of rice and beans is rice and beans served on a crispy tortilla and covered in cheese, vegetables and Greek yogurt (my healthy version of sour cream).  Cook this up for Meatless Monday or any night of the week, and it’s guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser. Tomorrow will be a new challenge that you haven’t seen before, so enjoy this easy repeat!

Mexican Rice & Beans close-up 2

Makes 4 Servings

Ingredients:

For the Rice & Beans:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small red onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
3/4 cup brown rice
1/4 cup brown lentil
2 cups (15-oz. can) cooked pinto beans, washed and drained
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chili
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
4 cups Progresso vegetable stock

For the pizza:
4 whole wheat tortillas
1/4 cup Mexican cheese
1 chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped spinach
lime juice
4 teaspoons non-fat Greek yogurt

Mexican TortillaDirections: 

  1. Heat a sauce pot over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes.  Add oil to the pot. Add the onion and red pepper to the pot and cook for 1-2 minutes. Next, add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, brown rice, lentils, pinto beans, paprika, chili powder, salt and oregano to the pot and stir well.  Make sure everything is evenly coated.  Pour the stock into the pot and bring to a boil.
  3. Once the pot reaches a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 45-60 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.Mexican Rice & Beans in pot
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  5. After the rice and beans are cooked, let them sit for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Make your Mexican pizza by layering a tortilla, rice and beans, cheese and red peppers.  Place in the over for 5-7 minutes.
  7. Remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle with chopped spinach, lime juice and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Mexican pizza close-up

Disclosure: I received free samples of Progresso Cooking Stock mentioned in this post at no cost. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Progresso Cooking Stock and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.