Healthy Cooking and Nutritious Meals with Panini Maker

panini makerYou must have bought for yourself a Panini maker, or received one as a birthday or Christmas gift. Excited to have finally become an owner of such a versatile kitchen appliance, you decided to make the most of it by cooking healthy meals.

It is time to make a change. You said it’s really about time since you’re not getting younger and wanted to live a much healthier lifestyle from here on.

And you are sure you’re on your way to realizing this goal since you have already heard and will make nutritious and yummy meals from your very own Panini press grill.

Now you just have to obtain great healthy recipes that you can use – and there are literally thousands of them that you can get from cook books or download on the Internet. You are just excited to make delicious good meals for everyone.
panini machine strawberry
The following are a number of effective tips and advices for you and other owners out there who really want to make the most out of their appliance and come up with healthy and delectable dishes, one that are truly beneficial to the health. Here’s to great Panini-driven healthy living.

Italian bread

Especially if you have tried and loved eating Panino, you will insist on using these traditional breads. The most commonly-used are ciabatta and focaccia.

These two are popular simply because they are tasty and sturdy as well. They are dense, which means that they will not fall off and crumble but instead work well to keep fillings together.

1. Ciabatta

Favorite Italian bread is Ciabatta, which traditionally possesses the shape of an Italian shoe popular in the Middle Ages. It is well known for its crispy crust and moist interior bread. Its crust all over is quite thick, making it easy to be cut horizontally and hold voluminous fillings well.

However nutritionists warn that it is fattening because it is made of white flour. Its nutritional and caloric values are almost the same as that of the ordinary white bread. In other words, it is a high carb bread type.

2. Focaccia

It has a be-dimpled surface and a sought-after bread for Panino sandwich. It is flat and more of the pizza-type bread. More or less, it has high caloric value because it is made of bread flour but can be argued that it is healthy because of its olive oil content.

You can make a simple meal out of focaccia with just a few cheddar cheese slices and any herb of your liking.

If only for their great flavors that complement well any ingredient that you want to use for your sandwich, it is likely that you will insist in using them even if they mainly use white bread and gluten-laden flour.

Fattening or not, who cares?

But if you are on a diet or a diabetic, but insist on using these breads, you don’t have to give them up altogether just because they are loaded with fats and calories.

You can come close to enjoying authentic Panini by going for gluten-free and whole grain versions. They are readily available in deli shops and supermarkets these days.


panini grill vegetablesWith a Panini sandwich maker, you now have no excuse not to eat veggies. In fact, even individuals who hardly consume veggies will love them in their Italian sandwiches because they add greatly to the taste.

Bell peppers of green and red are crunchy and colorful additions to your sandwich aside from the fact that it is rich in vitamin.

Other times, you might want to grill vegetables instead of cooking sandwiches. In such a case, your Panini press grill can easily come up with the most deliciously grilled carrots and onions. Eggplant and asparagus can be grilled as well to become a great side dish to a nutritious meal.

You will certainly want to own a Cuisinart GR-11 Griddler 3-in-1 Grill and Panini Press, known to be one of the most versatile kitchen tools around.

Not only is it able to cook great-tasting Paninis, steaks, and turkey meals but it can also efficiently grill vegetables – virtually any veggie of your choice. It ensures that the delicious taste and nutritional content of vegetables as well as other food items is locked in, allowing you to relish them.
BLt panini sandwichesNeedless to say, lettuce, onion, and tomato are given staples in any Panino sandwich. You must use the freshest, but see to it that after washing in running water, remove any excess before when laying them so as not to make the break soggy.

Fruits on sandwich

Fruits are multivitamin-laden. It is a must that you try using them as ingredients to your Panino sandwich.

Avocado complements the taste of turkey sandwich; just go easy on the portion because it has excessive fat content. This fruit is loaded with monounsaturated fat, which is good for the heart, and Vitamin E, which effectively works as an antioxidant.

Here is short (less than a minute) video of Chicken and Avocado Panini. It’s not a recipe or how-to-cook video, but one that serves to inspire others to use fruits (and vegetables) as main ingredients of a sandwich.

Strawberry is another fruit that deserves the spotlight in your diet meal sandwich. It’s packed with vitamins A, B, C, and K – it’s certainly the healthy fruit for you. This yummy and delicious strawberrry and chocolate Panino will be a surefire hit with the family and kids.

More pepper, less salt

It’s likely that the meat that you use for your Panini sandwiches, cold cuts and leftovers, has high salt content. So, please do go asking come dinnertime for the salt to be passed.
spices panini press sandwichLikewise, meals cooked in Panini makers have all the flavors of fillings locked in. Hence, you can give up on salt since there is no need for further seasoning.

For those who thought their sandwich is bland, try using salt substitutes such as pepper, parsley, garlic powder, and rosemary. These are zero-calorie spices that have no bad health effect and may even deliver nutritional benefits when eaten.

Hummus instead of mayo or catsup

Mayonnaise has more or less 100 calories and 4.9 gram fat per tablespoon. On the other hand, catsup has much less calories 20 or so per tablespoon but unfortunately is loaded with sugar, certainly bad news to individuals with high blood sugar level.

If you want to give up mayo or catsup and are willing to venture to the gastronomic unknown (or perhaps you have tried it before), you should know that there is a good condiment substitute in hummus, which has less calories (27 kcal and 1.2 gram fat).

Hummus is a spread made of especially mashed combination of chickpeas, lemon, and olive oil. It is perfect dressing for turkey or chicken Panini, giving your meal a rather Middle Eastern taste.

Pesto is another condiment that enhances significantly the flavor of sandwiches. In my case, I love its rather garlicky taste. Although fatty in content, the oils are healthy (olive oil) and generally beneficial to the health. I love it when combined with cheddar cheese instead of Parmesan. Done in just a few minutes, you can have simple yet flavorful Panini cheese pesto bread.
light mayo paniniWant to cut on calories but you just can’t give up your liking for catsup or mayonnaise?

Worry not because there must be hundreds of brands of reduced-fat or light calorie versions that can be had.

Stick to a tablespoon or two at the most

mayo catsup panini grill sandwichLet’s be honest. Who among us have never spread globs of mayo or catsup in their Panino? No one right? We want everything covered with these tasty condiments. I suggest that you think first before doing so, because you defeat the purpose of using low-sugar catsup, or reduced-oil or light version mayonnaise.

Suffice it to say that you must display some discipline if you are really decided to make some major changes towards healthy eating.

Come to think of it, with the many delicious fillings that you put into your sandwich, you don’t want your meal to taste dominantly like mayo or catsup right? If you can’t live without either or both of these two kings of condiments, do stick to the healthier versions and always consume a tablespoon (or even less) per Panino.

Fish and poultry are ideal meat choices

tuna panini sandwichWhile all types of meat can be used to fill the bread, consider them according to their health and caloric value. The best, of course, is smoked fish like salmon. Go for the latter if you want a bit of saltiness in your sandwich. Canned tuna is perfect as well.

Leftover fried chicken and turkey, ones that had been sitting for days in the fridge are also ideal meat filling. Go for whole grain bread because of the already high fat / calorie content of the meat. If leftovers are oily, wrap them in paper towels to remove oil before laying them into the bread.

Those on a diet should limit the use of cold cuts like salami and pepperoni, because of their high fat and salt content. I love these processed meat but eventually limited myself in eating them (really difficult – you should know) when I decided that I want to maintain good heart health.
cold cut panini sandwichesAlbeit, once (or twice) a week, I consume a slice of ham, which has lower fat and sodium content compared to other similar types. I usually make a ham and cheese Panini machine sandwich just to satisfy my craving for this particular meat. And if I do consume ham, I include lettuce and slices of cucumber just to just to have something healthy to go with it.

For cold cuts lovers, check out local supermarkets, many of which now offer processed meat products that have reduced fat and sodium content. Be advised that a common ingredient found in them is nitrite, a compound known to be carcinogenic. Hence, not only are cold cuts bad for the heart but cancer-causing as well.

Moderation is the key to ensure that enjoy these foods once in a while. So, the next time you prepare your ham sandwich, limit the number of slices and try enjoying a bowl of green salad, tossed in vinaigrette (I want mine with more part olive oil), along with it.

Reduce cheese and use tasty ones

cheese panini sandwichIf you cannot do without cheese despite its rather high caloric content, it’s advised to add in moderate portion. Choose ones that are flavorful in taste and can add to the overall deliciousness, such as mozzarella and cheddar.

I cannot emphasize the fact that apart from adding distinctly delicious taste, depending on the kind that you use, cheese works in holding fillings together as they melt during toasting process.

Panini maker – the healthy kitchen appliance

1. First of all, you have a cooking implement that grills vegetables well. You get the most out of grilled veggies, like bell pepper and zucchini, in terms of vitamin and mineral absorptions. Valuable nutrients, unfortunately, gets lost when vegetables are boiled.

2. Fat content of beef, pork and other meat becomes less as it melts and drips away when grilled. You don’t have to rub oil on the meat since it will get cooked in its own fat.

It’s a good thing that most brands and models like Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler feature parts that receive dripping oil, separating it from food. This means much less greasy steaks. That’s why you can aptly call this kitchen tool fat buster.

Some models have oil draining systems or channels that allow such oils and grease to flow into a drip cup or tray. Drained and collected oil is easily disposed because the tray is removable and easy to clean.

Caution: When cooking is done, allow the appliance to cool down for 20 to 30 minutes before you remove the grease tray and dispose the oil.

3. In the first place, don’t choose meat cuts that are saturated in fats. Even if the best Panini grill can melt away fats from steaks, it can only do so if you choose to cook fat-laden cuts such as rib-eye and fillet mignon steaks.

Go for lean parts of beef, such as the leg. A tasty yet lean beef cut is sirloin. You’d be happy to heat up your appliance for this steak. For once, try grilling turkey fillet (uncooked and not leftover) or chicken (without skin) or even fish. You’ll be doing your heart, and yourself, a great favor.

Simply put, if you are on a diet or one who adheres to a healthy lifestyle, Panino is a great option for a nutritious and less-caloric meal. Just follow these healthy cooking tips and advices while using the best Panini maker, and you and your family will always enjoy a yummy and nutritious meal.

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