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Healthy Living Recipes

Deb Morgan: As a chef and mother, one of my great life joys has been to watch my daughters as they discover their creativity and hone their skills in the kitchen. The old adage of the cobbler’s children without any shoes has been mentioned in my home on more then one occasion, as I didn’t always find the time to create wonder meals at home. The up side was that the girls took charge and figured out how to feed themselves in healthy and satisfying ways. Though they have now advanced to meals like roast duck and pasta with Bolognese sauce, they began with the humble yet versatile panini maker. Once mastered, paninis become a safe and fun after-school snack and easy dinner option. Here are a few of our favorite melting options. Good-quality bread is a must-here at Kripalu, we’re big fans of sourdough.

Banana Hazelnut Melt

2 slices good-quality bread
Vegan Hazelnut Cocoa Spread (recipe below)
1 banana
Sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
About 1 tablespoon Earth Balance or ghee

Spread both slices of bread with Vegan Hazelnut Cocoa Spread. Cut the banana lengthwise and lay on bread. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired. Close bread and spread a light coating of Earth Balance non-dairy spread or ghee on the outside of the sandwich. Grill in panini press until melted and toasted.

Vegan Hazelnut Cocoa Spread

Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

½ cup ground raw hazelnut meal (grind whole hazelnuts in food processor until finely ground, then measure)
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon agave nectar or sweetener of choice
3 tablespoons soy milk
Pinch of sea salt

Place ingredients in a food processor and blend until well combined.

Tuna Apple Melt

2 slices good-quality bread
1–2 slices cheddar cheese
Tuna Apple Walnut Salad (recipe below)
Sliced tomato, spinach, and/or sliced onion
About 1 tablespoon Earth Balance or butter

Put the cheese on a slice of bread and top with a scoop of Tuna Apple Walnut Salad. Add sliced tomato, spinach, and/or sliced onions. Top with second slice of bread, and spread a light coating of Earth Balance or butter on the outside of the sandwich. Grill in a panini press until melted and toasted.

Tuna Apple Walnut Salad

Serves 2.

1 6-ounce can of unsalted, water-packed tuna, drained
1 stalk celery, diced
½ small apple, diced
¼ cup chopped raw walnuts
¼ cup Veganaise™ (egg-less mayonnaise)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Pinch of black pepper
Pinch of sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir thoroughly. Chill before serving.

Read Annie Kay’s Nutritional Commentary: Bread Basics.

Filling your panini with bananas, apples, tuna, nuts, and vegetables enhances the healing benefits of your sandwich. But perhaps the biggest nutritional decision is what type of bread to use.

Flourless sprouted grain breads are one option you can find at the health food store. When a grain is sprouted, it begins to act more like a vegetable, so it tends to have a higher enzymatic activity, higher protein content (yet possibly lower gluten), more nutrients, and less carbohydrate. If bread is made from a sprouted grain milled to maintain its nutritional qualities, the bread will metabolize more like a vegetable than a grain, which for most of us is a good thing.

Another option is sourdough bread, which is leavened with lactobacillus culture, usually in combination with symbiotic yeast. The tanginess of sourdough comes from lactic acid, a byproduct of the bacterial leavening. The bacteria in sourdough break down some of the protein, starches, and sugars in the bread, which makes it easier to digest and, in one study, caused a smaller increase in blood sugar than similar bread with all-yeast leavening. But perhaps more important than the leavening is the type of flour used. Whole-grain flours are higher in fiber and nutrients because the bran and germ have not been removed. Refined flours, like white rice flour or white flour, are lower in fiber and nutrients, and act more like sugar in the body. Choose your breads for both taste and health!

Find more delicious and nutritious recipes in Kripalu Recipes.