Today, I have two recipes for you that go together very well: Healthy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Garden Tomato Soup! Talk about a classic combination. Grilled cheese sandwiches are an American classic that gets a bad rap for its lack of nutritional content. I wanted to make a delicious sandwich that expanded on the classic flavors without taking anything away. Most sandwiches use two slices in order to get that gooey, cheesiness that everyone loves. I took away one of those slices and added slices of avocado so that you still get the gooey cheese, but with a much lower saturated fat content. The avocado makes up for the creaminess we lost, and it just tastes good. I had a grilled cheese sandwich at the Farmers' Market once with avocado on it, and it was incredible, so trust me on this one if you think this sounds weird! The tomato soup was a lot easier considering that most homemade tomato soups are pretty healthy. However, if you're the type that only knows how to heat up a can of Campbell's tomato soup, this will be a big change that I hope you love. My tomato soup doesn't taste like Campbell's because I used so many vegetables, but my family still loved it. Each recipe yields a different serving size, so you can cut one in half or double the other in order to suit your needs. You could also make the four full sandwiches and cut them into eight halves for eight people. Enjoy!
Healthy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Makes 4 full sandwiches
8 slices all-natural, whole-grain bread (I recommend Dave's Killer Bread)
4 slices rBST-free cheese of choice (cheddar, white cheddar, pepper jack, etc.)
1 large avocado, cut into thin slices
2 medium-sized beefsteak tomatoes on-the-vine
12 large basil leaves, washed
Extra-virgin olive oil cooking spray
1. Remove the stem from the tomatoes and cut out the place where it attached to the tomato. Think of that area of the tomato as the top, and the side touching the cutting board as the bottom. Using a serrated knife, cut the tomato in half from the top to the bottom. Turn each half on its flat side and slice thinly. Repeat with the other tomato.
2. Assemble a sandwich by putting a few tomato slices, a few avocado slices, and three basil leaves on the bottom slice of bread. Put the slice of cheese on the top slice of bread and place on the sandwich so the cheese touches the rest of the ingredients. Repeat this process with the other sandwiches.
3. Plug in your panini maker or George Forman grill. Once it is hot, spray a little bit of olive oil on both sides of the panini maker/George Forman grill. Place one sandwich on the grill and put the top down. Place a paper towel underneath the base of the grill to catch any drips. Grill for about three minutes, and check frequently to make sure it is grilled to your liking. Preferably, your sandwich should have golden-brown grill marks and the cheese should be melted. Remove from the grill using a spatula and transfer to a plate. Cut on a diagonal to make two triangles. Repeat this process with the remaining sandwiches. Serve with Garden Tomato Soup.
1/2 of a medium-sized yellow onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tsp fresh thyme (substitute 3/4 tsp dried if you don't have fresh on hand)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small zucchini, diced
1/2 of a small red bell pepper, diced OR 1 small carrot, peeled and diced*
3 beefsteak tomatoes, diced
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes (preferably low sodium or unsalted)
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (soy, almond, etc.)
1/2 cup basil leaves
A handful of fresh parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste
*I highly recommend that you use carrots for a more classic tomato soup taste. I used bell peppers due to my carrot allergy, and the pepper taste was definitely prominent. I liked the way it tasted for sure, but using carrots will bring out the flavors of the tomatoes more. Choose whichever veggie you like best!
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, thyme and Italian seasoning. Stir to coat with the oil and let sit for about three to five minutes, until the onions are somewhat translucent and are just beginning to caramelize. Add the fresh tomatoes, bell pepper/carrot, zucchini, salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high, mix well and saute for about five to seven minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and cook for another two minutes.
2. Add the vegetable broth and almond milk. Stir well. Cover and let boil for about ten minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Using a ladle, transfer the contents of the pot to a Vita-Mix, blender or food processor. Add the fresh basil and parsley. Put the lid on the blender, but be sure to take the plastic plug out of the lid. This way, the steam can escape. Start off at a low speed and gradually increase the speed to medium-high. Keep a hand lightly resting over the hole in the lid to keep the soup from flying out of the blender and splattering all over your kitchen! Blend for about a minute until you reach the desired consistency. Some like it chunkier, and others like it very smooth and creamy. Once you're happy with the consistency of the soup, stop blending and ladle it into eight individual bowls. Serve with Healthy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.
There you go! I hope you enjoy these healthy twists on two classic American dishes. I normally hate tomato soup, but I absolutely love this one, so you know it's got to be good! The sandwiches are also amazing. My dad came home from a business trip the other night and had a hot Healthy Grilled Cheese Sandwich waiting for him, and he told me it was an outstanding sandwich. I don't normally get praise that high from my dad, so this is pretty legit! Please try these recipes out and share your recreations with me using #teenscancooktoo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Don't forget to follow Teens Can Cook, Too at all the social media sites below:
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