Vegetable Panini’s

Need a quick, but hot hearty sandwich? What about a panini? Check out my blog today for a few easy steps to sandwich happiness! I am always looking for ways to eat more vegetables and less meat and today’s panini fit the bill perfectly.

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Several years ago I received a panini grill for Christmas. While we lived in our small apartment, my panini grill was packed away, so once moved, I resurrected one of my favorite kitchen toys! They work by pressing the sandwich between two heated grills connected by a hinge. This allows both sides to be cooked at the same time. You can also use your Panini grill to grill vegetables, such as long slices of zucchini and peppers.

I chose spinach, bell peppers and mushrooms for the vegetables along with some grated organic cheddar cheese. I always buy organic spinach and if possible bell peppers. (depending on price and availability in the supermarket)

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I keep sprouted whole grain bread in my freezer. This is considered a live food product with no sugar and no flour. Read about this amazing bread here. Instead of mayo or butter, I mixed up equal portions of apricot jam (fruit sweetened) and Dijon mustard. Spread a small amount on the inside of each bread slice. Layer the veggies and cheese on the bread. If you have previously roasted or grilled veggies, it works better, but I sliced my peppers and mushrooms thin and they cooked up fine…with that little crunch that I adore!

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Grill until bread is nicely toasted and melted cheese starts to ooze out!

 

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Slice and serve…and enjoy to the last bite!

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Pomegranate Parfait

Recently our large extended family celebrated an early Christmas. Every family brings a favorite plate of goodies which results in an array of candies, cookies, chips and dips. Since a number of us try to eat as natural as possible, I wanted to bring something that was nutritious as well as festive. Our local supermarket has had beautiful and reasonably priced pomegranates the past few weeks. While they are in season, I keep a half a dozen or so on hand.  The amazing little seeds, or arils inside pomegranates  are perfectly suited for juicing or eating whole on salads, yogurt, or as a topping on any other food you love. They are delicious, tangy, and light up your taste buds when you eat them.

I peel my pomegranates in a large bowl of cold water. If I work under the water, it doesn’t splash and pomegranate juice stains miserably! Each fruit will yield hundreds of beautiful arils!

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The ingredients for this parfait are arils from 2 pomegranates, organic frozen wild blueberries, homemade granola (recipe here), non-fat Greek yogurt, 1% cottage cheese, coconut nectar, vanilla and berry stevia.002

Read about the health benefits and how to order, here.

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Place 1 1/2 c. yogurt and 1 1/2 c. cottage cheese in blender. Add 1/2 c. coconut nectar, 2 t. vanilla and 1 dropper full of berry stevia. Blend until smooth. (Order berry stevia here)

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Starting with granola layer ingredients in a glass bowl. Top with the pomegranate arils and garnish with some Christmas holly atop a dollop of vanilla cream.

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I figured I better label this, just so the foodies in the group knew what they were eating! As you can see…there wasn’t much left to take home. :(

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Yogurt Vanilla Creme

1 1/2 c. non-fat Greek yogurt
1 1/2 c. 1% cottage cheese
2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. coconut nectar (could use agave or honey)
1 dropper berry stevia

Blend until smooth. Layer with granola and fruit to make a beautiful parfait!

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Fried Chicken, the Healthy Way!

We have the fantastic advantage to buy free range chickens from Growing In Grace farms, near our home. This is the same place we got our CSA baskets this past summer & fall. Once you have tasted these chickens, you will never ever want a store bought chicken again. As you can see these chickens have a more yellow fat from the grass that was consumed, similar to the darker yolk color of pasture raised eggs. The fat in cooked chicken broth is also noticeably more yellow. While you get the amazing flavor of this meat, what you don’t get is a chicken that was raised breathing fecal dust and ammonia in a conventional chicken house 24/7 its entire life. The chicken will not have received any antibiotics, vaccinations, growth stimulators, genetically modified grains, pesticide laden and chemically produced feed, synthetic vitamins or feed ingredients, or arsenic to be passed on to you.

 

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I had special help in my Sweet Basil Kitchen today, as our grandson, a budding chef, assisted me each step of the way. Cutting up this bird was a great lesson in anatomy and physiology.

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My sis, taught me this simple practice of preparing greaseless fried chicken, many years ago. Sprinkle salt, pepper and paprika on the bottom of a cold skillet.

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Lay the chicken pieces in the pan. Turn heat to medium.

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After 10 minutes, cover with a lid.

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Meanwhile, my helper cleaned some carrots.

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After 10 minutes with the lid on, turn each piece over.

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Repeat the process, uncovered for 10 minutes, then cover for 10 minutes. See the flavorful liquid now just waiting to be made into gravy?

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This was Sam’s meal request at Grandma’s today!

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