My boys have always had to be pretty good sports around the dinner table. They’ve been guinea pigs for hundreds of recipes I’ve developed over the years. While they like some better than others, they usually find a way to make a meal out of whatever I’m cooking. Lately, though, it’s been more challenging than usual.

While I typically try to keep our meals as healthy as possible, I recently wanted to eliminate a few staples from my/our diet for just a week or two in an effort to detox a bit from a long business trip. Out went the dairy, although my boys still drank milk. Out went the gluten, along with the caffeine (by far the thing I missed the most). Out went all refined sugars, and, of course, any processed food, which we don’t eat much of anyway.

After about two weeks of chicken, fish and more chicken, along with a truckload of vegetables and fruit, my youngest cried “uncle.” He was craving a hot roast beef sandwich. I get it. At that point, frankly, so was I. But I didn’t want to simply throw caution to the wind. After all, this ultra “clean” eating was actually making me feel pretty good.

So I thought about what might feel a little sinful, while actually being good, or at least not so bad. The trick to this kind of eating is to use a little of the more indulgent ingredients combined with a healthy dose of the more “good for you” ingredients. In the case of this Hot Roast Beef Sandwich With Caramelized Peppers and Onions, I use a small serving of thinly sliced roast beef, a thin slice of cheese, and then load the sandwich with a flavorful combination of caramelized sweet peppers and onions. All this is encased in a whole-grain baguette. Warming the sandwich lets the cheese melt and when cheese gets gooey, it just gets better. The result is a sandwich that feels like a potential diet disaster, while actually being much more on the healthy side than the dark side.


Meredith Deeds of Edina is the author of “Everyday to Entertaining” and “The Big Book of Appetizers.” Reach her at Follow her on Twitter @meredithdeeds.