By Kim Dannies

As we jump full force into spring cleanup projects, it’s wise to remember that there will be a rogue day or two when it is still bone-cracking-cold outside. Despite our bodies’ attempt to transition to lighter foods, these are the days that we still crave warmth and sustenance. Be prepared for this culinary contradiction, and I promise that you will be richly rewarded.

I like to keep something at the ready that involves melted gooey cheese; that usually does the trick for me. Think grilled panini or a quick flatbread pizza with a side bowl of steaming soup. The good news is that it’s possible to enjoy these hearty foods with a lighter, healthier twist.

For example, try a bacon and bleu cheese flatbread. By choosing flavorful turkey bacon and a small amount of pungent cheese, you’ll enjoy lean protein and satisfying flavor with minimal calories. Choose store-bought whole wheat; knead 1 teaspoon of cornmeal into the dough as you prep it. Roll it out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Top the dough with five strips of turkey bacon, sprinkle 4 ounces of crumbled bleu cheese. (Prep this before you set out to do chores for a few hours). About 20 minutes before the hunger-pains hit, heat oven to 425. Bake flatbread at 425 degrees for 12 minutes. While the flatbread cooks, toss a generous handful of fresh arugula with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the flatbread is ready, top the surface with the greens, cut into six portions; serve immediately.

A good grilled sandwich, like turkey cheddar avocado panini, requires decent equipment. I love my Cuisinart “griddler gourmet” because there is no prepping of the bread with extra calories, like butter or oil. In just minutes, it toasts the outside to a perfect golden crunch as it melts the gooey cheese. Choose a square-shaped whole-wheat roll designed for panini. Slice open the roll and add a thick slice of turkey breast, a slice of cheddar, and a little ripe avocado. Prep the panini early, set in fridge covered in plastic, and 20 minutes before break time, heat up the griddler. You’ll be transitioned to nirvana before you know it.


Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters. Archived Everyday Gourmet columns are at