CINNAMON PEAR GRILLED CHEESE (Serves: 2)
Spread 1 tbsp raw honey on each of two slices whole-grain cinnamon raisin bread. Top each slice with 2 oz sliced cheddar cheese, 1/2 large pear, thinly sliced, and 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro. Top each slice with an additional 2 oz sliced cheddar cheese and 1 slice whole whole-grain cinnamon raisin bread. Mist a medium nonstick skillet with olive oil cooking spray and heat on medium. Add 1 sandwich, then cover and cook for 2 minutes. Flip and cook, covered, until golden and cheese is melted, about 2 more minutes. Mist skillet with cooking spray and repeat with remaining sandwich. Serve warm.
Bonus: Pears are very high in fiber, packing 7 grams per fruit. Fiber is key for a healthy digestive tract and has been shown to play a role in lowering cholesterol.
BALSAMIC MAC ‘N’ CHEESE (Serves: 4)
In a large saucepan, melt 1 tbsp organic unsalted butter on medium. Add 1 sweet onion (such as Vidalia), minced, and saute until translucent. Stir in 1/3 cup whole-wheat flour and saute for 3 minutes. Stir in 3 1/2 cups 1% milk and 1/4 tsp each sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in 1 cup baby spinach, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar and 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese. Cook, stirring, until cheese melts. Stir in 12 oz whole-grain elbow macaroni, cooked. Top with 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (optional).
Bonus: Made from pressed grapes, balsamic vinegar adds a touch of sweetness to this mac ‘n’ cheese. It’s also a good course of the antioxidant quercetin, a plant pigment that has anti-inflammatory properties.
CHEESY ZUCCHINI QUINOA SALAD (Serves: 4)
In a large saucepan, melt 1 tbsp organic unsalted butter on medium. Add 1/2 sweet onion (such as Vidalia), minced, and saute for 4 minutes. Add 1 clove garlic, minced, and saute for 1 more minute. Add 1 cup dry quinoa and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in 1 1/4 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until water absorbs and quinoa is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. In a steamer basket, steam 2 large zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch chunks, until tender; add to quinoa with 1 cup jarred marinara sauce, 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese and 1/4 tsp each sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Cook until cheese melts. Serve warm.
Bonus: Quinoa is rich in the minerals your body needs to unction properly. Just 3/4 cup cooked quinoa provides nearly 45% of your daily value (DV) of manganese, which supports a healthy brain, and 20% of your DV of magnesium, which helps relax blood vessels.