I feel like if there was one type of food, other than sweets, that I want to substitute healthier options for – it would be Italian. I’m talking pastas, breaded meat and CHEESE. I came across these folded Quesadilla like meal prep ideas on Pinterest and have changed the fillings a bunch until I found the one I just can’t live without. This one is not vegan/vegetarian as it has Chicken and Mozzarella but it is delicious and guilt free when you’re craving pasta maybe even pizza but… That’s a bold statement. You can obviously switch out the cheese or meat choice to your preference but here both the Chicken Breast and Whole Milk Mozzarella pack the protein.

This recipe is technically 2 if you want to make it cleaner and less processed. I have included a recipe for a lower fat pesto as well. Traditionally, Pesto is made with pine nuts but instead I substituted Brazil nuts as they have a lower fat content and higher in protein. However, it can make your pesto feel a bit spicier 🙂

Let’s get into it!


Air Fryer – you can use an oven instead but the Air Fryer is quicker and leaves your breasts juicier. These Liners have saved my cleaning time drastically if you do have one! –

Cutting Board


1 (6) Pack Spinach and Herb carb tortillas – LARGE

2 Large Chicken Breasts, cut in halves

3-6 Garlic Cloves

1 Tbls Italian Seasoning

1 Tbls Garlic Powder

1 tsp Salt

1 tsp Pepper

2 Tbls Olive Oil

1 Jar Pesto

Fresh Mozzarella Ball

2 Roma Tomato

  • First prep your chicken halves, make 4 – 5 slits in breast, not cut down all the way. Place all seasonings in a small bowl so its well mixed. Rub olive oil on breasts and cover with the seasoning mixture and place 2 garlic cloves in the slits in each breasts. See picture for reference.
  • As the chicken cooks, use cutting board to thinly slice tomatoes and mozzarella
  • Once chicken is cooked thoroughly, remove from air fryer and slice into thin, wide slices. Cutting the breasts at an angle helps achieve this. Thinner is better for the panini to lay flat.
  • Now that all your ingredients are prepped remove tortillas one at a time. Make a small slit down the middle, hallway up to the center.
  • Place Mozzarella on one quarter of tortilla, followed by the chicken on the next, tomatoes on the next and last quarter add the pesto.
  • One all ingredients are placed on your tortilla, begin folding each quarter into each other until you have a handheld folded tortilla. (Watch video for reference)
  • If you are able to eat these where a toaster oven or air fryer is present, you can store like this until time to serve. If you need them prepped for lunches throw these back in the air fryer until toasted and they are ready to eat!

These handheld pesto paninis are an easy prep packed with protein.

Follow this link for the Pesto recipe + adding a 1/2 cup of Brazil nuts to your recipe. Homemade pesto just tastes better and packs more protein, less preservatives. It’s easier than you think so don’t be intimidated! –

Let me know what you think if you try it and experiment other meal options with this idea!

Chelsea Harris

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