According to the CDC, healthy diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Fruits and vegetables also provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances important for good health. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and are filling.

I love fruits/veges and try to work them into every meal. Sometimes it’s a simple swap – (ex. a side salad instead of chips or fries). Other times, I make vegetables and/or fruits the star of the meal (i.e. a vegetable stir fry or big pot of mixed greens with a small bit of meat for protein or flavoring).   My latest kick is to remake decadent recipes, adding fruits and veges to raise the nutrition, lower the energy density and add interest.  A recent example is this healthy hook-up grilled cheese.

Picture of cut grilled cheese sandwich

2 slices Jewish Rye bread
Dijon mustard
Apple (I used a Gala)
Baby spinach
Sharp cheddar cheese (I used a Horseradish Cheddar)
Olive oil (not pictured)

  1. Preheat a skillet over medium heat.  Thinly slice the apple. Brush one side of both slices of bread with a bit of olive oil. Note: This will be the outside of the grilled cheese sandwich. Olive oil replaces the butter typically used. Alternatively, instead of olive oil, you can lightly coat the bread with a bit of mayonnaise. Both have less saturated fat than butter and will brown and crisp the sandwich beautifully.
  2. Lay one piece of bread oil side down.  Spread the top with a bit of Dijon mustard.  Add one layer of sliced apple followed by spinach leaves and finally a thin layer of sliced cheese.  Spread mustard on the bare side of the other slice of bread and place it on top of the sandwich. 
  3. Carefully place the sandwich in the heated skillet with the apple layer towards the bottom.  Cook slowly (about 3-4 minutes) until the underside is lightly browned. (Watch the heat and give it time so the outside doesn’t burn before the inside warms.)
  4. Carefully flip and cook another 3-4 minutes until the cheese melts. 

This sandwich has alot going on – the crisp of the grilled rye, paired with the spicy creaminess of the melted horseradish cheddar and mustard, offset by the crunchy sweet of the apple.  Yum!  Nutritionally, the added fruit and vege adds bulk, vitamins and iron.

To switch it up, use a different fruit, type of spread on the inside, bread or cheese.  For a less spicy version, I used Smoked Gouda – it was lovely. 

Wheels turning… how about this hook-up: tomato (maybe sun-dried) instead of apple, arugula or fresh basil instead of spinach, Mozzarella instead of cheddar cheese, pesto instead of mustard and thinly sliced foccasia instead of rye?

Grab some fruit, vegetables and play with your recipes. Pick quality ingredients with bold flavors, (so a little goes a long way), and have fun with it. It’s an easy, delicious way to add nutrition and variety to your food.  

More examples: This chocolaty deliciousness was made with zucchini…

Yep. Click herefor the recipe and for great ideas to get you playing, check out 40 Unexpected Ways to Add Veggies to a Meal

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