There are probably as many variations on the classic grilled cheese sandwich as there are people who make them. These healthier grilled cheese options put cheese in more of a supporting role with the flavors and textures of the add-ins as the surprise stars of the show.
The basics for a healthier grilled cheese include a flavorful cheese and whole-grain bread. Cheeses with strong flavors allow you to use less cheese in your sandwich. Grating the cheese helps it melt around the other ingredients, reducing the need for multiple slices of cheese. And using whole-grain bread adds fiber and a nutty flavor.
Cheese note: Both of these variations use sharp cheddar, but there are many other cheese options — such as Swiss or mozzarella — that would work in a healthier grilled cheese sandwich. Most reduced fat options (2 percent cheddar or part-skim mozzarella, for example) work equally well in this recipe, but be sure to check the sodium levels in the cheese. Many times when fat is reduced, sodium is increased.
Add-ins note: The first variation is a great way to use leftover roasted vegetables. This version uses a combination of broccoli and cauliflower, but you could also use roasted asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes or other favorites. Make sure to remove from the fridge in advance so the vegetables can come up to room temperature.
Preparation note: If you use a non-stick pan, griddle or panini press, there is no need to butter or otherwise dress the bread or cooking surface. Whole-wheat bread gets a nice nutty crust without any extra fat.
Add-ins (variation 1, pictured above):
Add-ins (variation 2):
(does not include oil used in cooking)