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Make Grilled Cheese Healthier

By Paul Rothbart

Crispy, toasted bread, with melted, gooey cheese. Perhaps with a slice of ham or bacon. Yes, I am describing a grilled cheese sandwich, one of the tastiest and most comforting lunch foods. Kids love them and frankly, so do most adults. The problem is they contain a lot of carbs and fat. Not the healthiest thing you can put in your body. But like most things, there is more than one way to make a grilled cheese sandwich and there are ways to make a healthy one. Here are some tips.

Use Cheese With Big Flavor

American is the most commonly used cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich because it melts well. The problem is that it doesn't have a lot of flavor so you end up using a lot of it, increasing fat content. It's better to use cheeses with big flavors so you can use less. The sandwich will still taste great but have less fat and be healthier. Cheddar, especially extra-sharp, is an excellent choice. Bleu cheese also has a bold flavor. Try different cheeses and find the ones you like best.

Use Other Ingredients to Add Flavor

Without cheese, it's not a grilled cheese sandwich but by using other ingredients you can also lessen the amount of cheese needed. Slices of tomato add a pop of acid with few calories. If you like spice, try jalapenos or salsa. You could also try adding turkey bacon. You get flavor, salt, and protein while reducing fat.

Choose Healthy Bread

White bread is the traditional choice for grilled cheese but it is far from the healthiest. Whole wheat and whole-grain breads are delicious. They contain more fiber and nutrients than white bread. They also crisp up nicely and have more flavor. Your healthier sandwich will also taste better 

Substitute For the Butter

The outside of a grilled cheese sandwich is generally slathered with butter before cooking. It crisps the bread and adds richness. But the cheese already provides all the richness you need. The fat content of the butter makes your sandwich far less healthy. Try a substitute. Creamy, low-fat spreads are tasty and do a fine job of crisping the bread. Reduced-fat mayonnaise or sour cream are excellent substitutes. You can add more flavor with a bit of lemon juice or some fresh herbs. Experiment with your favorite spreads. If you're going to take the time to make a healthy grilled cheese, go all out.

Especially when paired with soup, there are few lunches as comforting and tasty as a nice grilled cheese sandwich. By using substitutes for the traditional ingredients, it can also be healthy. You get the best of all worlds. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in San Jose, Calif.

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