Fresh Mozzarella Grilled Cheese

We already know that I love to fancy up my grilled cheese. It’s just so much more delicious to add a few complimentary flavours to an already-amazing combo — bread + cheese = heaven!

But what happens when you combine fresh mozzarella, spinach, avocados, and sundried tomato pesto? It’s a happy tastebud explosion!

I’ve realized recently that I like using olive oil when I’m grilling my sandwiches. The oil is healthier than butter or margarine, it’s vegan, and it gives the bread a pleasant crunch without making the sandwich overly greasy. I definitely recommend giving it a try.

Crunchy, cheesy, veggie-packed sandwich!

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Summer Rotini Salad

Pasta salad is a summer classic. It’s refreshing, filling, and can be healthy as long as you choose the right dressing.

One of my favourite things about making pasta salad is that you can usually enjoy it warm as well as cold. In this salad, all of the vegetables are raw, which means that when you combine them with the freshly cooked pasta, they stay juicy and cold. This creates a nice contrast of textures and temperatures if you’re digging in right away, but this salad is equally tasty once the pasta has cooled completely.

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Grilled Hummus Sandwich

I have been getting into grilled sandwiches a lot lately. Think gourmet grilled cheese, but not necessarily with cheese, and filled with lots of veggies and other delicious things. The possibilities when you’re making sandwiches are pretty much endless, but it’s easy to fall into old routines and get bored quickly, which is why I think grilling your sandwiches adds a new and exciting dimension to the whole process!

This particular grilled creation is packed with healthy spinach, avocado, and homemade hummus, with a touch of sundried tomato pesto for extra flavour. I try to stick to whole grain breads as much as I can, to ensure I’m getting healthy fibre and keeping my refined flour intake low. Plus, the texture of grainy bread goes so nicely with the smooth avocado and hummus.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can substitute a different type of bean dip (white bean dip is an awesome sandwich filling!) and totally different veggies, depending on what’s in your fridge and what suits your fancy at the moment. It’s an awesome vegan/vegetarian lunch option for any time of year.

I would love to throw a lunch or dinner party someday with a huge array of breads and fillings, where everyone could build their own sandwich and then have it grilled. Don’t you think that would be fun?!

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Simple Summer Salad

Oh boy have I been bad with my blogging lately! I was expecting to find that I would have more time to cook and blog once summer came around, but I’ve been surprised with how little of both I’ve managed to fit into my schedule.

On the bright side, the things I have been cooking have been really simple, fresh, and tasty, just like this salad I’m about to share. I visited my cousin in Toronto a few weeks ago and she turned me onto “chunky” salads, i.e. salads without greens in them. There’s something to be said about biting into nice big cubes of fresh summer veggies — especially when there’s also cheese involved!

This salad reminds me of a traditional Greek salad, but the choice of cheeses and the inclusion of avocado give it a bit of a new twist.

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Green Yoghurt Smoothie

I have fallen off my breakfast smoothie wagon lately, although I am still eating breakfast daily! (I am very proud of this.) However, I’ve come up with a new and delicious version of a green smoothie, which I’m happy to share today!

The original clean green smoothie recipe I wrote is still the one I revert to most often when I’m reaching for my blender in the morning. I like its light flavour and texture, and the ginger really gives it some zing! This smoothie is pretty different, as it contains both peanut putter (or your choice of substitute nut butter) and yoghurt. It is heavier and creamier, less fruity, but more protein-packed.

Either way, it’s nice to shake things up a bit and try new ways of getting my metabolism up and running in the morning, so this is a welcome addition to my breakfast rotation!

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Green Giant Pasta

When I’m in a hurry to get something nutritious and filling in my stomach after a long day, I often turn to pasta dishes. I tend to load up my bowl of noodles with whatever “extras” I have in my fridge, and most of the time, that includes lots of vegetables! In fact, I try to keep my pasta-to-veggies ratio at about 1:1, so that I’m filling up on vitamin and mineral-rich foods and keeping my carb intake reasonable.

This pasta dish combines fresh asparagus and frozen green peas with loads of fresh basil pesto — it is bursting with flavour and nutrients, and takes a jiffy to prepare! With so much green goodness in my bowl, I couldn’t help but name it accordingly.

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Mocha Chia Oatmeal Breakfast… Pudding?

I have been coming across so many blog entries about chia pudding and cold oatmeal lately, my curiosity got the best of me and I combined both concepts into one recipe this weekend.

The basic premise of chia pudding is that chia seeds, a very healthy and nutrient-packed superfood, take on a tapioca-like texture when they’re soaked in any liquid. This quality makes these seeds the perfect candidate for a healthy dessert option. They are an easily digestible plant-based protein, easy to integrate into various recipes (they’re often used as egg replacements in vegan baking, since they bind ingredients together effectively), and neutral in flavour. And yes — chia seeds are used to grow the “hair” on Chia pets!

Cold oatmeal, on the other hand, is made by combining oatmeal and milk — either dairy or non-dairy — and letting it sit in the fridge for a few hours. The idea is that you can enjoy a healthy filling oatmeal breakfast in the summer without having to have it hot, which can feel a bit heavy when it’s warm and humid out. Oats are an excellent source of fibre and protein, low on the glycemic index, and may help reduce risks of heart disease (according to the FDA). What’s not to like?

Naturally, I can’t just follow a recipe, so when I decided to try my own cold oats/chia pudding, I had to make up my own… no recipe escapes unaltered when I get my hands on it!

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Foodie Friend Friday #3: Becca’s St. Patrick’s Day Salad

Happy Friday, everyone!

This week, I am so excited to feature a recipe from my friend Becca. Becca is one of my oldest and dearest friends. We met when we were 15 and we are kind of like soul sisters… the type of friends who lose sight of one another every once in a while, but pick up wherever we left off when we reconnect. We had a wonderful reunion back in February and I’m glad we’re keeping in touch more these days. I absolutely love this girl, and I wish I could be in her kitchen at all times because the type of food she makes is just my style! Perhaps someday the stars will align and we will live in the same city…

Becca also started her very own food blog recently, so you should check her out at The Cozy Kitchen and spread the food blogging love — especially if you’re on a gluten free diet. She’s got you covered, and then some!

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, she has created a detoxifying salad for you… so if you’re planning on having a few drinks tomorrow, keep this recipe in mind as a pre- or post-celebration meal. You may want to use it to nurse your body back to health later.

If you’d like to see the last two installments of Foodie Friend Friday, click here (#1) and here (#2).

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