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Friday, April 12, 2013

National Grilled Cheese Day!

Every since I announced National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day to my fellow employees they have started  telling me what each day is celebrating. Earlier an employee stopped by to tell me that today is National Grilled Cheese Day! Yes, April has been designated the month for praising the grilled cheese sandwich and today we honor the grilled cheese sandwich with National Grilled Cheese Day. As a child I remember my sister making grilled cheeses (it was about the only thing she could cook). She would slop a couple of pieces of sliced American cheese in the middle of Sunbeam white bread and then cover the outside of the sandwich with lots of butter! Preparing the frying pan with more butter she would place in the grilled cheese and press on it with a spatula until the cheese oozed out. This fatty yet admittedly yummy sandwich could easily top out at 600 calories and 33 grams of fat (mostly from heart killing saturated fat!). I know I wouldn't be satisfied with just one sandwich... If we double our order and we are following a 2000 calorie diet we have reached our recommend intake of fat for the entire day in just one meal... So how can we lessen the calories and fat and still have an enjoyable grilled cheese experience?

  1. Lose the American cheese (it's not really real cheese anyway!). Opt for a more flavorful cheese like feta or mozzarella or even sharp cheddar. Feta cheese has a reasonable amount of calories and protein. One ounce of feta has only 74 calories and 4 grams of protein. One ounce of mozzarella has only 71 calories and a whopping 7 grams of protein. These items can be purchased in fat free or reduced fat (Caution: with less fat typically comes more sodium!).

 2. Toss the white bread and switch it out for a high fiber whole wheat bread. You body has no idea what the heck to do with white bread. It treats it like a big piece of cake and stores it right in our fatty areas. To get a good serving of fiber one slice of bread should be >3 grams. So, you should at least have 6 grams of fiber in this sandwich. And whole wheat bread makes the grilled cheese a little more sophisticated!

 3. Focus on the fat. Its true fat renders good taste and also makes the bread very crispy. But, we can look at other ways to achieve great taste and texture without so much fat. First, switch the butter for oil. Canola oil is great for cooking and a little more heart healthy. To lower the calories even more use a spray and lightly spray the pan before grilling. Experiment with herbs and other seasonings to yield good tastes. And as for the crispy crust try using a Panini press. Don't have one? You can thank Alton Brown for the next tip. Place your sandwich in an iron skillet on the stove top and place another skillet on top of the sandwich and allow cooking. You have just sandwiched the sandwich! When you remove the top skillet your sandwich should be nice and crispy.

4. Lastly, Pile on the veggies. I always say it “Look for the nutrition in all of your meals!” You do not have to go crazy just compliment the type of cheese. Add chopped spinach and zucchini to the feta grilled cheese or add sliced tomatoes to the mozzarella for an Italian delight grilled cheese!
 Check out this awesome grilled cheese recipe from

Continue reading as I continue my mission: Healthy Huggins!


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