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Sharp Health News

Build a healthy grilled cheese sandwich (recipe)

April 12, 2017

Build a healthy grilled cheese sandwich (recipe)

What’s more comforting than a crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside grilled cheese sandwich?

With a few easy steps, you can make your favorite nostalgic sandwich healthier, but no less satisfying. There is even a way to enjoy a grilled cheese without bread (keep scrolling).

Pick the right cheese
Avoid the processed American cheese you may remember from childhood and instead reach for flavorful full-fat cheeses, like cheddar, that give you a punch of flavor while allowing you to use less of it.

  • Shredded cheese allows you to sprinkle a thin, even layer that fully covers the bread.
  • Although it is OK to indulge in a full-fat cheese in smaller servings, if you are watching your cholesterol, you can still satisfy your craving with low-fat or reduced-fat cheeses, or you can opt for goat cheese.

Add vegetables and fruit for extra nutrients
Vegetables and fruits are great for our health, but they also make an amazing addition to a traditional grilled cheese.

  • Add spinach, arugula or slightly wilted kale to any grilled cheese for iron, antioxidants and omega-3s.
  • Figs deliver sweetness; apples and pears give a wonderful crunch; and avocados provide rich creaminess plus disease-fighting antioxidants.
  • Roasted red bell peppers add a smoky and sweet taste, and jalapenos give an extra spicy kick.

Skip the butter and opt for healthy oils instead
Instead of using the butter for that perfectly crisp texture, use a panini press to get the same crisp with fewer calories.

If you don’t have a panini press, you can get the same effect by using 1 teaspoon of an oil of your choice — extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil or unrefined coconut oil — in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once the sandwich is down and sizzling, add a weight on top (such as a flat pan), until it is golden brown. Flip and repeat.

Pick better bread … or no bread at all!
An easy swap is to choose whole-grain bread, which contains more nutrients and fiber than white bread. If you want a tasty grilled cheese without any carbs, there are many creative alternatives that are just as satisfying, such as zucchini bread, sweet potato flatbread or cauliflower bread.

Cauliflower Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Yields 3 to 4 sandwiches

1 head cauliflower (to make about 4 cups processed cauliflower)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 1/2 cups shredded, reduced-fat white cheddar (or the cheese of your choice)
1 teaspoon oil of your choice: extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil or unrefined coconut oil

Cut cauliflower into small florets. Process florets in a food processor until the texture resembles rice. If you do not have a food processor, you can grate the cauliflower.

In a medium bowl, combine the riced cauliflower, eggs, Parmesan and oregano. Mix until evenly combined; season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Create 6 to 8 small patties from the cauliflower mixture that will be your “bread” slices. Press both pieces at same time with a spatula and cook until golden underneath, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook until the other sides are golden, about 3 minutes more.

Top one cauliflower slice with shredded cheese, then place the other cauliflower slice on top. Cook until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes more per side. Repeat and enjoy.

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