August is National Panini Month and with temperatures too hot for the oven in most parts of the country, there is no better time to whip up a healthy version of your favorite pressed sandwich.
Though there are a number of ways to make a healthy panini, Chef Tiffany Collins offers some tips about how to take ordinary ingredients, combine them in inventive ways and easily grill them on a panini press for a delicious, crunchy sandwich that won’t derail your diet.
Pick whole-grain breads to make your panini healthy and satisfying. When you’re choosing bread for your sandwich, opt for bread that is rich in fiber. Some wheat breads are not actually made with whole grains, so read labels carefully before you purchase. If the first words on the ingredient list are not “whole grain” or “whole wheat,” it is not really a whole grain.
Choose the right cheese. Cheese is essential to a well-crafted panini but choosing the right cheese can help you create a healthier panini. Both feta and goat cheese are flavorful options that have less fat per ounce than other cheese and will add creamy, delicious texture to your sandwich. If you want a richer flavor, watch your portion size and stick with one slice of cheese like on an Easy Provolone, Basil and Kalamata Olive panini.
Pack your panini with produce. Add in nutrient dense veggies and fruits like spinach, carrots, and apples. “To make sure your vegetables and fruit stay crisp and crunchy, add them to your panini after grilling,” said Collins.
Go lean with protein. Grilled chicken, beef or fish all add protein and a variety of nutrients to your panini. Collins recommends her Island Chicken Panini for fresh summer flavor (perfect if you’re hitting the panini press post-beach) and a serving of veggies to boot.
Look for lower-sodium versions of your favorite ingredients. Sodium hides in your diet, even in foods that are billed as nutritious. When you can, choose low-calorie, low-sodium condiments and spreads for your panini. Collins enjoys adding fresh salsa and Sargento Reduced Sodium cheese, which has 25 percent less sodium than traditional cheeses.
Make a Healthy Grilled Cheese Sandwich