I came up with this sandwich sometime shortly after becoming a vegetarian in 1983. This was a pre-outside of Austin Whole Foods era, during which I frequented and ultimately joined a natural food co-op. I began Collards partly to expand the health food sphere to include what some have now labeled the African Heritage Diet, which is the plant based diet eaten by millions of people on the continent of Africa and throughout the diaspora including here in the United States.

37 years later finds the health and wellness sector just as polarized as ever, perhaps more. In the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s a plethora of Black owned small cafes, restaurants, health food stores and wellness practitioners thrived in major and minor cities across the nation. Many Black folks wrote about their philosophy with respect to food and wellness including Dick Gregory, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Queen Afua. My favorite veggie hot dog and hamburger came from the drive-thru vegetarian place in the parking lot of Crenshaw Mall in LA. With that said, here’s my long over due sandwich recipe – some proof that we existed.

Healthy Deluxe Grilled Cheese Sandwich

  • 2 pieces Organic Bread (I used gluten free)
  • Earth Balance Organic Buttery Spread
  • Organic Cheddar Cheese (omit or substitute for Vegans)
  • Trader Joe’s Organic Mayonnaise
  • Organic Dijon Mustard
  • Organic Red Onion, thinly sliced
  • Organic Cucumber, thinly sliced
  • Organic Tomato
  • Avocado
  • Organic Salad Greens (I like Arugula or a combination of Spinach and Arugula)

Turn oven to High Broil. Butter both sides of bread with Earth Balance spread. Thinly slice cheese and cover one piece of bread with cheese. Place bread on a pie pan face up and put into oven for approximately one minute or until cheese is melted and both pieces of bread are toasted. DO NOT LEAVE UNATTENDED BECAUSE YOUR RESULTS WILL BE BURNED. Remove from oven and spread a liberal amount of mayonnaise on the piece of bread without the cheese, then add a small amount of dijon. Spread evenly. On top of the mustard place the onions making sure to cover the entire piece of bread. Follow with the cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado and the greens. Place the bread with the melted cheese on top of the stacked vegetables and enjoy. Accompany the sandwich with organic chips and/or a jalapeno. Makes one sandwich.

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