Panini Time: Healthy Recipes

It’s Panini Time!! Another one of my favorite Christmas gifts this year was the Griddler panini and sandwich press my brother gave me!

You plug it in and heats up to a “pre set perfect panini temperature” and then the green light clicks on…meaning, “time to grill!” It has been a great addition to my kitchen and makes for a quick, easy and delicious lunch or dinner meal with a side salad or soup!

Many people stay away from panini’s or sandwiches in general, because they think “carbs will make them fat!” Well, I am here to tell you different. Carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient that your body needs on a daily basis! I won’t go into all the scientific details about the biochemistry behind it all, but to sum it all up, our bodies use carbohydrates as the primary source of energy to fuel daily functions, physical activity and to drive effective mental acuity. Our bodies break down carbohydrates to make glucose. Glucose is a sugar that our body uses to give us energy. And we all need energy, right?! Choose whole grains and complex carbohydrates to get the added bonus of fiber, vitamins and minerals instead of refined sugars, which leave you feeling sluggish, bloated and less focused!

With that being said, let’s dive into some healthy panini recipes that you can  try today!

“Court’s Pick”: This is the “go-to sandwich” I have been enjoying for a quick, easy and delicious meal! My brother and I actually made it last night!

  • 2 slices Ezekiel Sesame Sprouted grain bread
  • 2 slices of Low Sodium turkey (with no gluten, MSG or added hormones)
  • Spinach leaves
  • 2 slices of Tomato
  • 1 slice park skim provolone cheese
  • Optional: Dijon mustard on 1 side of the bread and yogurt with chive dip on the other side of the bread
  • Put all sandwich ingredients together
  • Spray panini maker with PAM (olive oil flavored) and grill for 30 seconds-1 minute
  • ENJOY!

You can purchase the Cuisinart Griddler Panini and Sandwich Press at a discounted rate through Amazon online. Please see the link directly below.
Cuisinart GR-1 Griddler Panini and Sandwich Press

Try the Eating Well Recipes below:

Grilled Vegetable and Feta Panini

Ingredients:

  • 1 small eggplant, (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 4-ounce jar roasted red peppers, (about 1/3 cup), rinsed and chopped
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 2 crusty whole-wheat rolls

Preparation:

    1. Preheat grill or broiler to high.
    2. Cut eggplant crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. If using a grill, oil the grill rack.
    3. Brush 1/2 teaspoon oil over both sides of the eggplant.
    4. Grill or broil until it is lightly browned and tender, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Let cool slightly and coarsely chop the eggplant and combine with red peppers in a small bowl.
    5. Season with pepper.
    6. Mash feta with a fork in a small bowl. Add lemon juice, oregano, crushed red pepper and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil; blend until smooth and spreadable. Season with pepper.
    7. Slice rolls in half horizontally and scoop out about 1 inch of the soft interior from each half.
    8. Divide and spread the seasoned feta in the bottom half of each roll. Spoon the chopped eggplant and peppers over the cheese and replace the top half of each roll.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition Per serving: 294 calories; 8 g fat (3 g saturated, 2 g monounsaturated); 8 mg cholesterol; 46 g carbohydrates; 13 g protein; 5 g fiber; 829 mg sodium; 181 mg potassium.

Mediterannean Tuna Panini

  • Two 6-ounce cans chunk light tuna, drained
  • 1 plum tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped marinated artichoke hearts
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 teaspoon capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 8 slices whole-wheat bread
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil

Ingredients:

    1. Have four 15-ounce cans and a medium skillet (not nonstick) ready by the stove.
    2. Place tuna in a medium bowl and flake with a fork.
    3. Add tomato, feta, artichokes, onion, olives, capers, lemon juice and pepper; stir to combine.
    4. Divide the tuna mixture among 4 slices of bread (about 1/2 cup each).
    5. Top with the remaining bread.
    6. Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place 2 panini in the pan.
    7. Place the medium skillet on top of the panini, then weigh it down with the cans.
    8. Cook the panini until golden on one side, about 2 minutes.
    9. Reduce the heat to medium-low, flip the panini, replace the top skillet and cans, and cook until the second side is golden, 1 to 3 minutes more.
    10. Repeat with another 1 teaspoon oil and the remaining panini.

**Note: Chunk light tuna has less mercury than canned white albacore tuna.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition Per serving: 336 calories; 6 g fat (2 g saturated, 3 g monounsaturated); 61 mg cholesterol; 35 g carbohydrates; 3 g added sugars; 34 g protein; 5 g fiber; 543 mg sodium; 52 mg potassium.

Turkey and Tomato Panini

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 8 slices whole-wheat bread
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced reduced-sodium deli turkey
  • 8 tomato slices
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil

Preparation:

    1. Have four 15-ounce cans and a medium skillet (not nonstick) ready by the stove.
    2. Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, Parmesan, basil, lemon juice and pepper in a small bowl.
    3. Spread about 2 teaspoons of the mixture on each slice of bread.
    4. Divide turkey and tomato slices among 4 slices of bread; top with the remaining bread.
    5. Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place 2 panini in the pan.
    6. Place the medium skillet on top of the panini, then weigh it down with the cans.
    7. Cook the panini until golden on one side, about 2 minutes.
    8. Reduce the heat to medium-low, flip the panini, replace the top skillet and cans, and cook until the second side is golden, 1 to 3 minutes more.
    9. Repeat with another 1 teaspoon oil and the remaining panini.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition Per serving: 272 calories; 4 g fat (1 g saturated, 1 g monounsaturated); 27 mg cholesterol; 36 g carbohydrates; 10 g protein; 5 g fiber; 680 mg sodium; 118 mg potassium.

To learn more about healthy recipes and meal planning that is personalized for YOU, schedule an appointment with Courtney Walberg, Registered Dietitian and Founder of Nutrition For Body And Mind.