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Healthy Recipe Doctor

with Elaine Magee, MPH, RD

Elaine Magee's blog has now been retired. We appreciate all the wisdom and support she has brought to the WebMD community throughout the years.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Grilled Cheese For Grown Ups

Who knew that grilled cheese sandwiches would be the inspiration behind a couple of new hip restaurants in San Francisco? It IS the ultimate comfort food, with its unbeatable combination of hot melted cheese in the middle and crispy browned bread on the outside.

It is also the type of sandwich that allows a cook to get creative—with the cheese or combination of cheeses, other fillers, type of bread, and complimentary spreads.

I didn’t realize just how grown up a grilled cheese sandwich could be until I saw the menu for The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, a restaurant in San Francisco. Their three most popular grilled cheese sandwiches are:

* The Jalapeno Popper (chevre, Monterey jack, applewood-smoked bacon, apricot-jalapeno relish)

* The Mushroom Gruyere (fontina, gruyere, roasted wild mushrooms + gold potatoes, melted leeks, caramelized onions, thyme butter)

* The Piglet (Tillamook sharp cheddar, artisan cured ham, apple mustard, rosemary butter)

Granted they are still using butter, albeit different herb butters, and I highly doubt their locally made cheeses are part-skim, but at least the bread used for most of their sandwiches is a whole wheat French country levain. The other grilled cheese restaurant in San Francisco, The Melt, uses eight-grain bread or white wheat bread for some of their sandwiches.

Grown Up Grilled Cheese Tips

When you are making your grown up grilled cheese sandwiches at home, besides using a whole grain bread, you can kick it up a health notch by using part-skim cheese (or use regular fat cheese but use a little less). Instead of slathering the bread with butter before grilling, you can brush lightly with extra virgin olive oil or use canola or olive oil cooking spray.

For fancy fillers, opt for nutrient-rich vegetables when possible to go with the cheese, such as:

  • roasted red peppers
  • tomatoes or roasted tomatoes
  • grilled mushrooms
  • sautéed spinach or kale
  • grilled or roasted eggplant
  • caramelized onions

If you are a grilled cheese lover, tell us your favorite way to make grilled cheese sandwiches!

Posted by: Elaine Magee, RD at 6:59 pm

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