A macro-friendly chicken pesto panini

Here we go! This is my first REAL blog post over here.  Since getting hooked on macro-counting, I’ve been having too much fun posting photos and recipes of my food over on instagram @lillielovesmacros and realized I could just get so much more organized about it if I bit the bullet and started a blog.  Maybe it’ll just be for my mom, and mother in law, so they can print out real recipes… but for now I think I’m into it.

But this was no joke! I thought I’d do it in a weekend, upload some photos and recipes and I’d have it all here.  That weekend passed and a few more.  Ross went to Alaska for a week and I thought for sure I’d have it squared away when he got back, but there’s always more to do! It’s been like two months and too many late nights and guys–  this is it.  I’ve got a header (sorta) and a paragraph about me.  I’ve only transferred over a handful of recipes and feel like I’ve been living somewhere in the confused-headspace of Inception (that movie still hurts my brain),… deep in the heart of my computer… like I may as well be learning to write code.  And I don’t even know what that means. I’m exaggerating (only a little), but this WordPress business is no joke!  And you’d never know by looking around right? There are a million beautiful blogs out there and now I’m in total awe how everyone’s doing it.  Who even knows if any of my links work.  I’m sure I’m doing a list of things wrong and there’s probably some rules against “going live” when you’re still a hot mess but I’m doing it!  Let me know, when you go to print a recipe (mom), if I break your printer and we’ll get this blog sorted out together.  And when you find my plethora of typos, just think of it like a scavenger hunt.  It’ll be fun. In the mean time, let’s keep solving the puzzle of out how to keep our bellies FULL and our figures less so. ha.

A macro-friendly chicken pesto paniniA macro-friendly chicken pesto panini
A macro-friendly chicken pesto panini

Starting with this totally macro-friendly chicken pesto panini that tastes SO NOT macro friendly.  Seriously I think paninis are a macro gold mine.  A little cooking spray takes care of your toasty needs and you won’t even remember why you used to need two tablespoons of butter. A loaf of crusty french bread allows you to cut super thin slices and minimize carbs while still being able to hold on to a WHOLE sandwich… you won’t even notice the difference!  Stuffed with grilled chicken, lightened up garlicky basil mayo, havarti, and tomato… SO much flavor.  I swear if I ordered this at a sandwich shop I would 100 percent never guess it was so low in fat and carbs.

A chicken pesto panini

Chicken “Pesto” Panini

Takes ten minutes to throw together with leftover grilled chicken. Easy enough for lunch but legit enough for dinner paired with a simple salad.  And/or maybe a second panini. SO GOOD.
5 from 1 vote
Author Lillie
Course Sandwich
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 365 kcal


  • Crusty loaf of french bread sliced as thin as possible I like the double pack of fresh loaves from Costco
  • 3.5 oz 100 g Leftover grilled chicken (Mine is marinated in a simple blend of garlic, cider vinegar, dijon mustard, and s/p but any chicken works)
  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayo best foods has one with only 1 fat per serving- greek yogurt works too.
  • 3 frozen basil cubes Dorot brand found at my basic grocers and Trader Joes- or sub 2-3 tbs fresh.
  • 1 frozen garlic cube also Dorot
  • 1.5 slices lite havarti cheese
  • Sliced roma tomatoes
  • handful of arugula


For the Basil Garlic Mayo

  • Let the basil and garlic sit in the mayo for a few minutes to soften while you prep other things, then stir together with a pinch of salt and pepper.  (Or soften the cubes in the microwave for just 5-10 seconds.)  Save your leftovers because you’re gonna want this on everything.

For the Sandwich

  • Take two slices of bread (mine came to 45 grams total which is only 20 carbs)
  • Top the bottom slice with 1 tbs of basil garlic mayo and one slice of cheese
  • Arrange chicken (I used 100 g (about 3.5 oz) leftover tenderloins butterflied at an angle to fit just right).
  • Top with sliced tomato, arugula, and extra half slice of cheese, then second piece of bread.
  • Spray the outside of the sandwich with cooking spray and cook over medium-hight heat until the cheese is melty and the bread is toasty.


*I know this isn’t pesto– but I keep trying to make a yummy macro-friendly pesto and it’s hard! Pesto really wants to be swimming with olive oil and nuts. But with this guilt-free creamy base, you get all the flavor and keep your fats super low.


Serving: 1panini with 100 g chickenCalories: 365kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 43gFat: 9g
Keywords arugula, basil, chicken, french bread, garlic, panini, pesto

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About the Author

Hello. My name is Lillie. I’m not a registered dietitian, or a macro coach, or a public figure or culinary genius. I’m a mommy of four who FOUND macro-counting and fell in love with this balanced approach to food...

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