Pesto Chicken Paninis

Last week I shared with you a no-fail, quick and easy way to make perfectly shredded chicken in your crock pot and stand mixer. This pesto chicken panini recipe is one of my husband’s absolute favorites and is a great way to use up any leftover chicken you have!



These are quick and easy to make, and if you use a gourmet bread it can make for beautiful presentation if you have friends over for lunch. Plus, if you are constantly eating a sandwich with deli meat, it is a nice alternative. I love how flavorful the pesto chicken mixture is, and the mozzarella melts beautifully!

Now, if you do not have a panini press, you can still make these sandwiches! There are some options. You can use the oven and bake these 400F for 10-15 minutes until golden. Or, you could heat up a skillet, place the sandwich on it once it is hot, and use a second heavy skillet to weigh down and press the sandwiches.

Honestly these are so simple I hesitate to even call it a “recipe”, but here’s how to make them!

Pesto Chicken Paninis

Ingredients for 1 panini:

  • Bread of choice (hopefully whole wheat!)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup leftover shredded chicken breast
  • Reduced-fat pesto (store bought or homemade)
  • Shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
  • Shredded parmesan cheese

1). Preheat panini grill. In a small bowl, combine shredded chicken with about 2 tbsp of pesto (or to taste).

2). Slice bread in half. Place pesto chicken on one side and top with a sprinkle of mozzarella and parmesan.

3). Press until heated through and cheese is melted! Enjoy!


Blue Cheese & Greek Yogurt Aioli

If you like the tangy taste of blue cheese, you are going to love this aioli recipe! When I see the word aioli, I think of a creamy, unique sauce to put on top of sandwiches and burgers. Unfortunately, it also conjures up the word mayonnaise, as that is the base ingredient for aiolis. I personally am not a fan of mayo, and thankfully neither is my husband. If you are looking for a healthy alternative to mayonnaise, all you need is plain Greek yogurt. It’s surprising how well it takes on the task of becoming a silky smooth base for dips and aiolis. The flavorful blue cheese and dijon mustards blend beautifully into the yogurt and can be easily slathered on a bun for a more gourmet burger.


Photo: Grass-fed beef burger on a homemade wheat bun, topped with arugula and blue cheese aioli.

This blue cheese aioli packs a potent flavor punch, so keep in mind that a little bit can go a long way. Limit the amount to about one tablespoon per sandwich; any more than that, and you may not be able to taste the other ingredients of your burger! Did I mention how healthy it is? There’s 3g of protein per serving!

Blue Cheese & Greek Yogurt “Aioli”


  • 1 cup of plain, non-fat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

1). Combine all ingredients together in a bowl with a wire whisk or fork until well mixed. Serve and enjoy!

Servings: about 12. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 29 Carbs: 1g Fat: 1g Protein: 3g Sugar: 1g Fiber: 0g

WW PointsPlus: 1 Old Points: 1

Recipe adapted from: 

Kale and Ground Beef/Turkey Taco Filling

This recipe is an amazing way to sneak in a lot of kale without having picky eaters complain! I was so pleasantly surprised at how the kale blended away among the spices and was not even noticeable. Kale is so good for you and I am always interested in new ways to incorporate it in a meal. In this case, it gets completely lost in all the other flavors of the dish. I love that the spice blend in this recipe is incredibly simple, yet it tastes even better than the (not-so-healthy) packets of taco seasoning from the store. Overall, it is not very spicy but it does have a little kick. If you want more spice, increase the amount of cayenne pepper to taste.


I served this kale, beef, and bean mixture on a bed of crisp greens for me and in small tortillas for my husband. I was curious to see how he would react to the kale being cooked into the mixture, but he did not even mention it and told me the dish was awesome! Win!

Did I mention this easily came together in well under 30 minutes? It is a great choice for a homemade meal on a busy weeknight. I have a feeling we will be enjoying this dish again soon!


I used lean, organic ground beef in this recipe, but I actually originally intended to use ground turkey. After reading this report (and several others) regarding the disgusting addition found in over 90% of ground turkey in the U.S., I am so hesitant to buy ground turkey now. Does this news enrage anyone else, or is it just me? I hate not knowing what goes into the food we put into our bodies. Anyway, perhaps organic, local, grass-fed beef is the way to go…at least for now.

You MUST try this recipe and let me know what you think. I have a feeling your whole family will enjoy it!!

Healthy Kale Taco Filling


  • 1.25 lb lean ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cups of chopped kale
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I only used 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

1). Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and ground beef. Stir until cooked through. Add the diced red pepper.

2). Add the kale and mix together well until wilted. Add the spices and the black beans. Stir occasionally until heated through.

3). Remove from heat and serve in tortillas or on a bed of salad. Enjoy!


Servings: 6. Nutritional Information per 1/6 serving: Calories: 247 Fat: 8g Carbs: 17g Protein: 25g Fiber: 6g Sugar: 2g

WW+: 6 Old points: 5

Recipe adapted from 



Red Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette


If you do not usually get excited about eating a salad, you have to try today’s recipe! In fact, if you are an avid salad-eater you too need to try this vinaigrette because it is so unique and different from anything I have had in the past. Lately I have been enjoying making my own salad dressings. They’re very quick and easy to make, and the extra 5 minutes it takes is worthwhile when you consider how much more exciting your salad is with it! This vinaigrette brightens up your salad and makes it come to life with both sweet, spicy, and savory flavors. Absolutely amazing, and so simple to make! It is also beautiful–I love the contrast of the red dressing against the green salad.


Around Christmas time I received a jar of homemade red pepper jelly from a friend at work (who is an excellent cook!). I had never tried red pepper jelly until earlier that year and I was excited to add it to my pantry. When I received last month’s Southern Living and saw their recipe for a red pepper jelly vinaigrette, I bookmarked it immediately because I knew exactly how I was gong to use that jar of homemade jelly. The only bad thing about the original Southern Living recipe is that it calls for a whopping 1/3 cup of olive oil, which seemed like entirely too much, so I brought that down to just 1.5 tablespoons. It was plenty, and next time I may use even less!


Serve this vibrant dressing on top of crisp greens or use it as a marinade for chicken or pork!

Red Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette


  • 6 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red pepper jelly
  • 1 tbsp coarse-grained mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black peper

1) Whisk together all ingredients in a bowl or shake in a glass jar until well combined. Serve about 2 tablespoons on a salad per person.

Makes about 6 servings. Approximate Nutritinal Information per serving: Calories: 56 Fat: 4g Protein: 0g Carbs: 7g Sugar: 6g

WW Points Plus: 2 Old points: 1

Recipe adapted from Southern Living.

Grilled Garlic Herb Dijon Salmon

Excuse the poor photography in this post…let’s focus on this delicious salmon instead! My husband and I both loved this salmon. The fish is grilled, then topped with a savory sauce that really makes it stand out. The day I made this I had to use my indoor grill, but of course this would be amazing grilled outside. The sauce is very simple and easy to make–I used a food processor to grind everything together, but you can use a mortar and pestle or skip that step all together by making sure to mince your garlic very finely or mash it into a paste. Then just whisk the other ingredients together with the garlic! If you are looking for a change to your regular baked/grilled salmon recipe, try this one!! It is awesome, and chances are you probably have everything you need already in your pantry.


Grilled Garlic Dijon Herb Salmon


  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp dried Herbs de Provence
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • olive oil spray (I used my misto)
  • 4 (6 oz) wild salmon fillets, 1″ thick (if frozen, thaw first)
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 4 lemon wedges for serving

1). In a mini food processor, or using a mortar and pestle mash garlic with the herbs, vinegar, oil, and Dijon mustard until it becomes a paste. Set aside.

2) Season salmon with salt and pepper. Preheat your indoor or outdoor grill to medium-high. If necessary, spray your grill with cooking spray and reduce heat to medium-low. Place the salmon on the grill and do not move for 5 minutes.

3) Turn the salmon and cook the other side for 3-4 minutes. Spoon half of  the dijon herb sauce on top of the salmon. Turn 1 more time and spoon the remaining half of the suace on that side of the salmon. Note: your fish should have a total cooking time of 9-10 minutes per inch of thickness! If your fish is thinner, reduce the cooking time.

Serves: 4 Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 233.6 Fat: 7.9g Carbs: 3.1g Protein: 34.7 g Sodium: 240.6 mg without salt

WW Points+: 6 Old points: 5

recipe adapted from


Spicy Blackened Tilapia Rice Bowls


Cinco de Mayo is coming up this week and this dish is a little more unique (and healthy!) than your average Mexican taco or quesadilla: blackened tilapia on a bed of brown rice, then topped with a mixture of corn, beans, fresh pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, cilantro, and a squirt of fresh lime juice! The result of the combination of all those ingredients was amazing flavor in every bite! There is quite a bit of heat from the seasoning on the fish, so if you prefer less spicy food, use less seasoning on the tilapia. This meal is very filling and low in fat, as long as you don’t go overboard on the toppings. You can substitute quinoa for the brown rice and use frozen or fresh fish, depending on what you have available. From start to finish you can certainly have this rice bowl ready and on the table in 30 minutes. The rice/quinoa will take the longest, so be sure to cook your grain first. The tilapia will cook in a matter of minutes, and it should not take long to chop up fresh cilantro and assemble the bowls. This is sure to be a family favorite–my husband does not typically like tilapia very much and loved this spicy version!

Spicy Tilapia Rice Bowls


  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 tilapia filets (or other fish filet of your choice)
  • 1/2 tbsp EVOO
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels (sliced off the cob is the best)
  • 1 red onion, diced (optional)
  • 1 red pepper, diced (I omitted)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • cooked brown rice (I used about 2 cups)
  • fresh cilantro, avocado/guacamole, shredded cheese, light sour cream, pico de gallo/salsa, or lime for topping
  1. Mix the spices together in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over both sides of the fish filets. (I like to season my fish a LOT, but just sprinkle on however much looks good to you.) Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat, heat a drizzle of olive oil. Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the fish filets to the pan. Grill the fish on each side for 3-4 minutes, checking the middle for doneness (fish should be completely white and flake apart easily). Remove fish filets and set aside.
  3. Add corn, red peppers if using, and onions to the pan with no additional oil. Heat over high heat for several minutes WITHOUT stirring to get a brown/black roasted look on the outside. Repeat for several minutes (stir, wait, stir, wait) until everything is tender-crisp. Add the black beans and heat through.
  4. Layer rice, corn/bean mixture, and fish in a bowl – or mix everything together in the skillet. Top with any of the toppings listed above!

Serves: 6. Nutritional Information per Serving (without toppings): Calories: 329. Fat: 6g Carbs: 40g Protein: 31g Sugar: 4g Fiber: 8g

WW Points +: 8 Old points: 6


Recipe adapted from

Espinacas Con Garbanzos (Spinach with Garbanzo Beans)


During my time living in Spain, I fell in love with a few dishes–today’s recipe is one of them! Espinacas con garbanzos (spinach with garbanzos beans), can be found as a “tapa” in most restaurants across Spain and is very popular. It is delicious but so simple to make: sauté fresh spinach among garlic and onion, then season with cumin and salt. I will admit this version is not exactly like the one my host mom would make or that we would find as a “tapa” on the streets of Sevilla, but it is very close. I make this recipe frequently because I love that it can be ready in under 10 minutes on a busy week night! The flavor in this simple dish is so unexpected. I love the smoky flavor from the cumin, and fresh spinach is so healthy! It’s a perfect way to use up any spinach that might go bad soon, or just another way to incorporate it into your meals. If you do not have fresh spinach, you can substitute frozen. And, in case there is any confusion: garbanzo beans and chick peas are the same thing!



  • About 9 oz fresh spinach (or 1 10 oz bag frozen chopped spinach), roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 12 oz can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt, to taste

1) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook a minute longer. Roughly chop the fresh spinach.

2) Stir in the spinach, garbanzo beans, cumin and salt. Use your stirring spoon to lightly mash the beans (optional) as the mixture cooks. Allow to cook until all spinach is wilted and thoroughly heated.

Servings: 4 Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 169 Fat: 4.9g Protein: 7.3g Sodium: 600 mg Carbs: 26g Fiber:6.4g

WW Points+: 4 Old points: 3

Recipe adapted from

Lemon and Herb Marinated Grilled Chicken

Today I’m sharing with you a super simple marinade for a tangy, flavorful grilled chicken breast. The best part? No oil! Most marinades include at least a teaspoon or two of oil, so I was intrigued when I came across this one. The acidity from the lemon juice helps tenderize the chicken while the herbs and garlic infuse flavor into every bite. This chicken could not be more delicious or simple to throw together! You can have this marinating in your fridge in about 5 minutes.


You can grill this outside, on a grill pan, in a George Foreman, etc. I’m sure it would be delicious baked as well. You can serve this with any side you would like, but I suggest my baby kale and strawberry salad.

Lemon and Herb Marinated Grilled Chicken


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in half (or you can buy thinly sliced chicken)
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic, crushed (2-3 cloves)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

1) In a ziplock bag, combine lemon juice, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add chicken breasts and tightly seal bag. Turn until well mixed. Allow to marinade for at least 2 hours, preferably 6.

2) Heat a grill, grill pan, or George Foreman to medium-high heat. When the grill is hot, add the chicken breasts. Cook until slightly browned and cooked through (no pink on the inside). Serve with salad or other vegetables of choice.

Serves: 4 Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 125 Fat: 1g Carbs: 1g Protein: 16g

WW Points +: 2 WW Old points: 3

Recipe adapted from

Ginger-Soy Roasted Cauliflower

Roasting cauliflower brings out a delightful, nutty flavor. I’ve mentioned this before in this post on how to roast cauliflower. Today, we are kicking it up a notch with a simple ginger-soy sauce that is added after roasting. This sauce makes for some of the most interesting cauliflower I have ever had! It also pairs very well with the healthy stir fry recipe from earlier this week!


Adding the sauce after the florets roast allows the Asian flavors to absorb into every bite, truly transforming this cauliflower into something special. The fresh ginger root grated into sauce is what adds the majority of the flavor, so I would not recommend substitute dried ginger. If you do try it, let us know in the comments how it turns out. Quick tip: did you know you can freeze fresh ginger? Wrap the ginger whole (with skin still on) in aluminum foil until later use. It will actually be easier to peel and grate frozen!


If you are like me and are always looking for interesting (and delicious!) ways to cook cauliflower, try this recipe. It could not be simpler and more unique!

Ginger-Soy Roasted Cauliflower


  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 1 green onion, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

1) Preheat oven to 400F. Cut the cauliflower into florets and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss. Roast for 25 minutes, or until tops are slightly browned and stems are easily pierced with a fork.

2) Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the cauliflower to serve.

Servings: 4. Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 79 Carbs: 9g Fat: 4g Protein: 3g Fiber: 4g

WW Points +: 2 Old points: 1

Recipe adapted from: Steamy Kitchen’s Healthy Asian Favorites Cookbook

Stir Fried Chicken with Sugar Snap Peas and Carrots

A healthy Asian-inspired dish that comes together fast enough to make on a weeknight!


Confession: Until this dish, I have never been very pleased with my attempts to make Chinese dishes at home. I suppose that mainly stems from some crock pot Pinterest recipes that did not live up to their reputation, but I digress. This recipe is fool proof and delicious. I do not own a wok, so I improvised using a large skillet. It worked out just fine!

Stir fries are fun as they lend themselves to creativity because can substitute vegetables listed for whatever you have on hand. It is also much healthier to prepare this type of dish at home than it is in a restaurant. Restaurant-style Chinese food is often known for being fried and coated in a sugary glaze. This glaze is sticky but light and flavorful due to the fresh ginger and garlic. You can serve this over the grain of your choice (brown rice, quinoa, whatever!) OR with an interesting soy-sesame cauliflower side dish that I will be posting soon. Check back later on this week!

If you do decide to serve this over a grain and your family really likes having extra sauce to mix together, I recommend doubling the sauce portion of the recipe!

*Note: I have recently had some requests to include the Weight Watchers points with the nutritional information at the bottom. Although I don’t participate in WW, I am now going to add that information whenever possible! If you have any other requests, please let me know!*


Spring Stir Fried Chicken with Sugar Snap Peas and Carrots


For the sauce:

  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce (or Braggs Liquid Aminos or Tamari for Gluten Free)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

For the stir fry:

  • 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced diagonallyor chopped

1). In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, lime juice, water, and cornstarch. Set aside.

2). Season chicken lightly with salt. Heat a large wok or skillet over high heat. When the wok (or skillet) is very hot, add half the oil, then add the chicken. Stir fry, stirring occasionally until the chicken is brown and cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and set aside. Reduce heat to medium.

3). Add the other half of the oil and the vegetables, ginger, and garlic. Stir over medium-high heat until tender-crisp, about 3-4 minutes.

4). Add the chicken back to the wok along with the sauce. Stir together for 30 seconds to a minute to combine well and heat through. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Servings: 4 (just under 1 cup) Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 179 Fat: 5.6g Carbs: 7g Protein: 27g  Sugar: 1.5g Fiber: 2g Sodium: 238 mg 

WW Points +: 5 Old points: 4

Recipe adapted from