I just found out that April is National Grilled Cheese month! Growing up, my mom would frequently make us grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch or for a snack. I used to love them and have fond memories of that time. But, now as a dietitian, I would not consider my mother’s grilled cheese the healthiest snack option for us kids. She used white bread, square American cheese, and hard (stick) margarine to brown the bread, which don’t contain many nutrients. Today if I am going to make a grilled cheese sandwich, I try to add a few elements to make it a bit healthier. I personally love 12 grain bread for these sandwiches. Not only are they high in fiber but the dense bread stands up well in the skillet. Now it is time to choose the cheese. I typically select 2% sharp cheddar for my cheese, as it is lower in saturated fat and calories and high in calcium. To this I sprinkle a little bit of cheese with a higher fat content to make my sandwich melt better (muenster, gouda, fontina). But, because the majority of the sandwich consists of 2% cheese I won’t have to use a lot of the higher fat cheese, which further saves me calories. A grilled cheese sandwich is not the same without the addition of some bacon! I forego traditional bacon and either select lean turkey bacon or a veggie based bacon. This gives the sandwich some extra saltiness and texture. Finally, sliced tomatoes can add a nice cool contrast to the warm sandwich and also add some vitamin C, too!

How do you like to spruce up your grilled cheese?

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