Lightened Up Grilled Cheese (It’s Possible!)Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Grilled cheese can be dated back to the 1920’s when pre-sliced bread and processed cheese were some of the few things affordable during the Great Depression. Originally, it began as an open-faced sandwich, but in the 1960’s a second slice of bread was added turning it into the classic version we know and love today. This American classic is so well liked, that April has been designated as Grilled Cheese Month, with April 12th being National Grilled Cheese Day!
While grilled cheese can be a healthy meal, especially when you make your own, the restaurant versions can be a diet disaster. Loaded with cheese on buttered white bread, this American classic can range from 400 to 1,000 calories and as much as 63 grams of fat – about a day’s worth! Here are some of the numbers from popular restaurants that have grilled cheese on their menu:
- Five Guys: 470 calories, 26 grams fat
- Panera Bread: 400 calories, 13 grams fat
- Applebee’s: 1,000 calories, 63 grams fat
- Friendly’s: 800 calories, 37 grams fat
Lighten It Up
A few simple tweaks and you can make yourself a healthy, delicious grilled cheese sandwich:
- Change up the cheese – Try using low fat varieties to cut down on calories and saturated fat. Get a bigger bang for your calorie buck by choosing flavorful cheeses. American is a great melting cheese, but by using reduced fat sharp cheddar, you can use less of it to feel satisfied.
- Think beyond cheese – Use less cheese in your sandwich and doctor it up with grilled veggies, caramelized onions, fresh basil leaves and spreads like olive tapenade or salsa.
- Don’t butter your bread – Buttering the bread prior to grilling is really an unnecessary step. If needed, brush your grill pan or Panini press with a little olive oil.
- Choose better bread – Skip the doughy, thick white bread and choose a whole grain variety instead. You’ll get a healthy dose of fiber and B-vitamins alongside your sandwich.
Healthy Grilled Cheese Recipes
Here are 5 healthy spins on grilled cheese that may lack the calories and fat grams, but certainly not the flavor.
- Pesto and Arugula Grilled Cheese from Cabot
- Waffle Iron Grilled Cheese from Meal Makeover Moms
- Sweet and Spicy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches from Ellie Krieger
- Spicy Grilled from Eat Right Ontario
- Grilled Tomato and Brie Sandwich from Cooking Light
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