Grilled Cheese, Lightened Up

Who doesn’t love the ooey-gooey goodness of a grilled cheese sandwich? You can enjoy the scrumptious combo of toasted bread and melted cheese without throwing your healthy eating plan out the window.
Related To:

Who doesn’t love the ooey-gooey goodness of a grilled cheese sandwich? We crave the comfort food year-round, but it's almost mandatory to enjoy one during April's National Grilled Cheese Month. But you don't have to throw your healthy eating plan out the window -- here's how to enjoy the scrumptious bread-cheese combo without going overboard.

Bread & Cheese

A typical grilled cheese can tip the scales at 700 calories per serving. When made with hefty amounts of cheese and butter, your sandwich's saturated fat content skyrockets -- not very heart-healthy!

Because the ingredients for this dish are minimal, you want them to be high quality and full of flavor (diet bread and fat-free cheese just won’t do!). Choose a whole-grain bread that has 110 calories or less per slice and match it up with a small amount -- only 100 calories worth -- of a really flavorful cheese such as Manchego, Swiss or goat cheese. Pre-sliced, low-fat cheeses usually have about 70 to 100 calories per slice -- cheddar, Jarlsberg Lite, provolone or pepper jack are all yummy choices and as long as they're low fat or part skim, you'll still get the flavor.

Layering in the Flavor

Instead of just relying on cheese to bulk up your sandwich, add flavorful ingredients that are lower on the calorie scale. Spread on your favorite condiments and toss in just about any veggie you can think of or even a fruits such as green apple slices or a tart jam spread. You can also add in some hunger-fighting protein to keep your sandwich satisfying without the fat (though, yes, we know that is veering off from the classic).

    Here are some winning combinations:
  • Turkey, Swiss and sundried tomatoes on whole-wheat bread
  • Low-fat cheddar, honey mustard and granny smith apple slices on multi-grain bread
  • Goat cheese, tomato and baby spinach in a whole-wheat pita
  • Part-skim mozzarella, basil and roasted red pepper on whole-wheat bread
  • Manchego, arugula and olive tapenade on an English muffin
  • Jarlsberg Lite, grilled chicken breast and BBQ sauce on potato bread
  • Low-fat cheddar, salsa and spinach on multi-grain bread
Heating It Up

When it comes to grilling your sandwich, pass on the butter or oily griddle. Use a nonstick pan or panini press along with some nonstick cooking spray. The cheese will be melty and the bread toasty without adding in additional calories and fat from gobs of butter.

    Recipes to Try:
[Photo by Annacia / Recipezaar]
TELL US: How do you make grilled cheese?
Keep Reading

Next Up

Scalloped Potatoes, Lightened Up

Most classic versions of this all-time favorite potato dish aren’t very figure-friendly, especially with boatloads of heavy cream and mounds of cheese. There are a few tricks to lighten things up—here’s how.

50 Grilled Cheese

Make a sandwich from Food Network Magazine for any meal of the day—even dessert!

6 Ways to One-Up Side Dish Favorites with Cheese — Sensational Sides

Cheesy does it, cheese lovers. Instead of taking your favorite food by the block, use cheese to improve your favorite go-to side dishes.

Cheese Basics

Learn about storing, buying and pairing cheese from the cheese experts at Sartori Cheese.

Get Custom Cheese Slices

Hot Tips for cooking with cheese from Food Network Kitchens' Katherine Alford: Instead of buying presliced cheese in packages, hit the deli counter to find more interesting cheeses.

Cheese: Is It Healthy?

Does this dairy delight have a place in your healthy eating plan? Although cheese has gotten bad press for being high in artery-clogging fat, choosing the right ones can provide important nutrients to your diet.

Why We Love Cheese

Happy National Cheese Lover's Day! Find out why we love cheese, and how it can be a part of a healthy diet.

Pairing Cheese and Wine

Putting cheese and wine together successfully is a little more challenging than it might seem, although these simple tips will help ensure enjoyable pairings.

Sweet and Salty "Lollipop" Cheese Balls

These are the perfect special occasion food — kids can help make them and they’re also delicious (for kids and adults). Get the recipe now.

Food Network Apps

In the Kitchen

Get over 70,000 FN recipes on all your mobile devices.

Facebook Messenger

Ask our bot for recipes, meal ideas and daily food trivia.

Amazon Echo

Just say "Alexa, enable Food Network skill" to get started.