Grilled Cheese Goes Gourmet

I did a quick Google search for “grilled cheese” and the first recipe I saw called for “2 slices cheese, 2 slices white bread and 2 tablespoons butter.” That’s for one sandwich. A seemingly innocent sandwich like a plain old grilled cheese is apparently not so innocent anymore. By Jessie Price

Get the recipe: Southwestern Cheese Panini

A quick analysis showed that traditional grilled cheese contains:

  • 410 calories
  • 29 grams fat
  • 18 grams saturated fat
  • 840 mg sodium
  • 1 gram fiber

All right, so it’s not going to break the bank. But, come on! Who needs 18 grams of saturated fat in a single sandwich?

I smiled at the numbers. EatingWell’s Southwestern Cheese Panini shows just how easy and tasty a makeover can be. Our sandwich has about 25 percent fewer calories, 60 percent less fat, 70 percent less saturated fat and 38 percent less sodium. Plus we’ve upped the fiber from 1 gram to 5 grams and increased vitamins A and C as well as iron. Here’s how we do it:

  • Use whole-wheat bread instead of white bread
  • Use less cheese to reduce fat and saturated fat
  • Add shredded zucchini and carrots
  • Add salsa
  • Add chopped jalapenos and onion
  • Omit the butter and use a panini press or our easy no-special-equipment-required panini technique

Plus I must say, this sandwich is far more exciting than a plain-Jane grilled cheese. Some of my other favorite grilled sandwiches from EatingWell that show just how easy it is to make a healthier sandwich are the Turkey & Tomato Panini, the Mediterranean Tuna Panini and the best one for warm weather, the Grilled Eggplant Panini.