Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Spinach Artichoke Grilled Cheese

So how's everyone doing on their new year resolutions??  Particularly the one about "eat-healither-and-exercise-more..."  You know what I'm talking about.  That's gotta be the #1 new years resolution out there.  It's not a bad one, just one that's probably the #1 resolution that is not kept.  At least for some of us.  I thought I'd share a tip that I found once -simple tip- that really helped me learn how to create healthier eating habits.  I've found, first off, creating a menu plan is really helpful because let's face it, when you are short on time most people turn to quick and easy things like fast food, and pre-packed, processed food.  Ok, every once in a while (for us that's like 2-3 times a year.  Really every once in awhile) will we eat out.  That I think is fine, but if it is an every day thing?  Multiple times a week thing?....

So here's the tip:  When I menu plan, I make a conscious effort to incorporate fruits and vegetables.  It may look something like this:

Breakfast: serve 1-2 fruits
Lunch: serve 1 fruit and 1 vegetable or 2 vegetables
Dinner: serve 2 vegetables (if i'm lucky. Most of the time it's one double serving of vegetable)

When I use that formula for the basis of my menu planning, I find I am making all-around healthier meals.  A sample of a day might look like this:

Breakfast: waffles with sliced bananas (you could also do smoothies/juice here too)
Lunch: Ham & Cheese sandwiches, with pears and carrot sticks (veggie could also totally include the lettuce and tomato on your sandwich-- or go all out and pack a salad for lunch!)
Dinner: Roast chicken with red roasted potatoes (I consider those veggies) and green salad -- veggies can also be apart of your soups/stews or tomato sauces on pasta

This way I avoid serving junk food or too many carbs as side dishes.  Snacks are also another great time when I try to serve a fruit or a vegetable.

Anyway, on to my recipe for today.  I just have to say: Oh. My. YUM!  These were soooo delicious!  They were simple to make too.  One of the things I love best is a warm toasted sandwich!  You can serve it as is, or beef it up by adding some chicken or bacon (or both) to the sandwich too. (and looky here, you've got your veggies already in there too!)

Spinach Artichoke Grilled Cheese
From A couple cooks (with slight adaptation by Egg Free Bakery)  

3 cups chopped fresh baby spinach
6 oz canned artichoke hearts, (not marinated)
2 cloves garlic 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
2 tablespoons sour cream 
1 cup shredded cheese, such as mozzarella and/or provolone 
4 pieces high quality bread
Kosher salt 
Butter (or more olive oil)

Dice the 2 cloves garlic. Chop the artichokes. Wash and stem the spinach, then chop it coarsely. Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Then add the spinach and a pinch of kosher salt, and saute for a few minutes until just limp. Add the artichokes and saute for another minute or so, until heated through. Drain off any liquid from the pan. Stir in 2 tablespoons sour cream and another pinch of kosher salt. Spread butter (or olive oil) on one side of each of the 4 bread pieces. Heat a griddle pan to medium high heat. Place 2 pieces of bread on the griddle, buttered side down. On each piece, spread some shredded cheese, the spinach artichoke filling, some more cheese (1/2 cup cheese per sandwich), and the other piece of bread. When the bottom bread is browned, flip the sandwich and cook until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted. Yields 2 sandwiches

**One thing I like to do with my grilled sandwiches sometimes, rather than buttering the bread, is to melt the butter in my skillet and then add the sandwich.  When bottom is browned, remove sandwich, melt a little more butter and add sandwich back to skillet, flipping to brown the other side.  I like doing it this ways sometimes because it gives it a nice toastier flavor and appearance.

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