Hungry Haley

it's more than food


Simple BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Entree, SandwichHaley Hansen1 Comment

These California-Style BBQ Chicken Sandwiches are the sandwiches - the sandwiches for the end of summer, the sandwiches for a quick weeknight dinner, the sandwiches to satisfy your craving for all things refreshing, juicy, BBQ-y, and delicious. They come together in less than an hour with fresh, tangy coleslaw, hearty whole-grain buns, creamy avocado, and juicy, sweet BBQ chicken. 

To articulate the last month of my life feels like I'd be assigning myself an entire book to write. And I'm not going to do that because 1) this is a blog and 2) I already am writing a (cook)book. I've been working full-time, if you add up the hours I spend at my actual job and the hours I spend working here and on the cookbook, and loving almost every minute. 

Simple BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

When I'm not working, I've been laughing harder than I have in as long as I can remember. I've been letting myself leave items on my to-do list uncrossed - some emails unopened, some laundry unfolded, some blog pictures unedited and some posts unfinished and even unstarted (which I realize is not an actual word) - in favor of the highest quality of quality time with the funniest of funny people. Grace and I grew surprisingly and naturally close with a local baseball team this summer and are still in awe of how they seemed to be our best friends in just four short weeks. 

Simple BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

I'm actually very proud of myself and I haven't been able to say that much in the last year. From forgetting about my "bedtime" a couple nights a week to stay up later with these friends, to learning how to play the drinking games that weren't a part of my college experience (and I hate beer, but I took the good with the bad), to letting a few days go by without answering a single email or even opening my laptop. 

My mind was rarely in blog-mode and it still isn't, but I'm rolling with that and figuring out if it means anything significant in terms of my pursuit of this blog. I love it here and I'm coming up on my fourth year of blogging, and everyday I'm learning more about it and myself. Thanks for coming along :) 

Makes 4 sandwiches 

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 ripe avocado, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups shredded cabbage (purple or green) 
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. honey or agave
1 tsp. garlic powder
4 whole-grain hamburger buns
Optional: fresh spinach leaves

  1. Whisk together the mayo, apple cider vinegar, honey or agave, and garlic powder in a small bowl until combined. Toss this with the shredded cabbage in a large mixing bowl until well incorporated and refrigerate 30-60 minutes.

  2. Heat a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat and lay the chicken thighs in with about 2 inches between each piece. Cook about 5-6 minutes each side and remove from the skillet when done. I always check the middle of each piece by carefully and barely splitting it open with a knife - if it's pink or even pink-ish, it needs more cooking.

  3. After the thighs have cooled, use your hands to tear them up into shreds, then toss them in a bowl with the barbecue sauce to coat. If you prefer to toast your buns, do so at this time.

  4. Assemble the sandwiches - lay the spinach leaves (if using) on the bottom half of the bun, followed about a half cup of the barbecue chicken, then avocado, and finally the coleslaw and the top half of the bun.

  5. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Simple BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Grilled Turkey, Gouda, and Greens Sandwich

Lunch, SandwichHaley HansenComment

Not your average grilled cheese, this loaded sandwich exceeds all expectations. Creamy smoked gouda plus hearty sliced turkey and refreshing greens makes for a grilled cheese sandwich that can't be beat! 

This is more than just a grilled cheese with extra protein and thick-sliced bread. 

I look at it as a reflection of my growth, and also my return to... me. Throughout the past couple of years, I've gone through several shifts in not just my diet, but also my relationship with food and my body. Going from highly restrictive eater (for 2-3 years), to vegetarian (for 6 months), to vegan (for almost 2 years) took a heavy toll on my sense of self that I didn't realize until now. 

Letting food dictate my life, I lost a lot of energy for my passions - cooking (and cooking all foods), exercising, reading, writing, and more. I'm not trying to be a Debbie-Downer in any way, but rather an encouragement, so let's get to that part. 

Grilled Turkey, Gouda, and Greens Sandwich

I've said before that I finally feel more and more like the girl whom God desires me to be, but I have to say it again because it just feels so true. It's not that I feel like who I used to be because who I used to be never knew such freedom. Who I used to be never felt such peace. Who I used to be never thought she could know and love a self like the self God has introduced to her. 

Growth in such a way - one that pulls you FAR out of a comfort zone - can be absolutely terrifying. First, it can feel like a potential destruction of your reputation, whatever that be. Then, it can feel totally, completely, almost painfully uncomfortable (duh). And finally, with faith, it will - yes, WILL - feel... well, right. 

Grilled Turkey, Gouda, and Greens Sandwich

Anyway, I don't want to be all serious in this post because borrrrrrrring. Also, I just read through Bon Appetit's latest issue, in which writers reveal and discuss the top 10 restaurants in America, the #1 of which happens to be a dive-y sandwich place that serves stacks of mayo + tomato + sunflower seeds + herbs and riffs on bologna sandwiches that actually taste good and other mind-boggling, mouth-watering items I couldn't stop reading and raving about yesterday as I laid on the beach with my friends (who were way less than interested in the funky sandwiches). 

I closed the magazine feeling inspired and hungry for not just sandwiches, but spiced up sandwiches that re-create old favorites and tell their stories with every bite full of flavors and textures. When making this sandwich, I had none of that. Really. It was kind of just a sandwich (in contrast to the first line of this post) that I threw together because the combinations sounded good that day. Now, though, as I reflect, I see that it was both unintentional and intentional - unintentional on my part, and intentional on God's. HA wow. Ain't that crazy? 

It's deli turkey and cheese stuffed between slices of thick bread and grilled, but it's more than that, too. Ten years ago, this was my childhood self's absolute favorite sandwich (made by Mom, of course), and was usually served beside Campbell's tomato soup for dipping. Five years ago, the cheese would've been removed because dairy has fat (and that fat was seen as "bad" by the self that consumed me at the time) and no oil would've been used to grill and create a buttery crisp. One year ago, no sandwich would've even existed in my diet because, well, because turkey and cheese are not vegan. 

Ahhhhhh! My heart is unbelievably happy with this seemingly simple sandwich because it shines the spotlight on the work of God's hands that removed a controlling diet mentality and a paralyzing fear of foods. 

Grilled Turkey, Gouda, and Greens Sandwich

What is representing you growth lately?! Tell me more below!

Makes 1 sandwich

3-4 oz. sliced deli turkey
1 oz. smoked gouda
1-2 tbsp. honey mustard (regular mustard works)
Your favorite greens (I used collard greens)
2 thick slices whole-grain bread
Oil or butter, for the pan

  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and coat with oil or butter. 
  2. On both slices of bread, spread even amounts of honey mustard. On one slice, lay the cheese, then greens, then turkey and place this slice into the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover.
  3. Cook until cheese is mostly melted and top with the other slice of bread. Flip the sandwich, carefully and using a spatula, and cook on the other side until golden brown and crisp. 
  4. Remove from heat and slice in half. Serve immediately. 
  5. Enjoy!
Grilled Turkey, Gouda, and Greens Sandwich

White Bean Salad Sandwich (Vegan, GF option)

Sandwich, Lunch, VeganHaley HansenComment

"Your summer looks so... chill." 

My friends have not been shy with their apparent jealousy of my summer thus far. Why, you ask? I'm basically working for myself. I took no part-time waitressing or babysitting or donut-slinging (that was last summer) jobs. In fact, I didn't even apply for any. During the winter/early-spring months, when I could've and (some might argue) should've been applying, I was stressing my eyeballs out over school and my current job at the time. I was wrestling with voices inside my head telling me I wasn't good enough to handle just about anything and everything on my plate - academics, future academics, a social life, a non-existent love life, and weight gain. 

All I wanted to do was run into the comfort of my Southern California home, in which the tough Cal Poly professors cannot touch me, in which I can ignore the confusing need to have a social life and a boyfriend, and in which I can hopefully heal my love-hate relationship with food. I wanted to escape. Applying for jobs and searching for summer classes were the LAST things I wanted to do. 

I was offered a part-time internship with NuttZo - an amazing, nut-loving company I call "my peanut butter people" - and could not have felt more pulled towards that opportunity, so I snatched it up immediately and promised myself I'd dedicate the rest of my time to developing my cooking skills + my passion for plant-based recipes (and in the process, healing my torn-up, upside-down, inside-out relationship with food). 

White Bean Salad Sandwich (Vegan, GF option)

Despite the excitement and determination that practically oozed from my every word, my parents were a bit more skeptical, wondering about qualifications of the experience, financial needs/income, etc. Understandable. Totally understandable, considering the fact that I'm - speaking exclusively in terms of age here - officially an adult and therefore am socially expected to have most of my shizz together. You probably know the feeling. 

tuna salad sammy stack.jpg

Convincing them of the legitimacy of my summer plans required a detailed explanation of how I'd be saving money, budgeting, and allotting my time each day. Again, totally understandable, and actually much appreciated because it helped whip my booty into shape and realize that, if I want to give this whole blogging-(almost)-full-time thing a go, I need to give it damn hard GO. 

Let me tell you - it's not all that it seems from the mouth-watering snapchats you may be referring to when believing my summer "is so chill". It's actually extremely HOT - I'm in Southern California, so the weather is literally h o t (or hot AF, if you will), but it's also hot because I'm either standing over the stove or in front of the oven on a multiple-times-a-day basis. I'm running in and out the backdoor to snap pictures of a recipe before bees and flies and even the rare cockroach attacks it. I'm up late at night, editing pictures and, when the text portion of each recipe isn't flowing like I always hope, deep-breathing and praying that something with even the slightest hint of relevance and humor will come to mind. I'm price-checking constantly, making sure I don't go overboard on ingredients or run away with the tantalizing temptation that is... dare I say... kombucha. 

White Bean Salad Sandwich (Vegan, GF option)

There's more, but I won't brag or complain or maybe even bore you would be the better term. All I'm saying is I'm a baby in this blogging world, but I'm a passionate little one and I fall more and more in love with food each day. I thank God that He's introduced me to a life of peace with the food I love so dearly so that I can chase after my dream, without the effing diet-mentality getting in the way. MOVE OVER DUDE BEFORE I RUN YOU OVER. 

That's right. I'm comin'. :) 

Oh, and about this sandwich! I did everything in my power to come up with a more creative name than what I've got, but I also refused to settle on "vegan tuna salad sandwich". First of all, raise your hand if you like tuna salad - the smell, the taste, the memories (school cafeteria lunch, anyone?). Yeah, that's what I thought. Second of all, my dad has ingrained the idea that my creative vegan recipes deserve so much more than to be called "vegan this" or "vegan that". So, white bean salad sandwich it is! 

I highly recommend seeking out fresh-baked, local bread. Makes. All. The. Difference. Search for something hearty, something thick and substantial to balance out the creamy, light salad. 

This recipe is no-doubt 100% picnic-friendly and a must for days when turning on the oven is not an option, when leftovers are non-existent, and/or when that tuna salad might sound appealing. 


White Bean Salad Sandwich (Vegan, GF option)

Makes about 4 sandwiches

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1/2 cup finely diced cucumber
2 tbsp. mustard
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed butter)
2 tsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp. lemon pepper
thick-sliced whole-grain bread (GF if needed)
mixed greens, for serving

  1. Mash the beans in a medium-size bowl and set aside. 
  2. In a smaller bowl, stir together the mustard, tahini, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and seasoning. Pour this into the mashed beans and stir to combine. Gently fold in the red onion and cucumber. 
  3. If desired, toast the sliced bread at this time. Spread about 1/4-1/3 cup of the salad onto one slice of bread, top with mixed greens and the other slice of bread. 
  4. Serve immediately and store leftover salad in an airtight container for up to one week. 
  5. Enjoy! 
White Bean Salad Sandwich (Vegan, GF option)