Disclosure: This blog post is part of a series that I received funds for from the Midwest Dairy Council to highlight dairy-focused recipes that feature the versatility, nutrition, and delicious flavor of dairy.
Mmmmmmm… grilled cheese. One of the sandwiches that I can say – with confidence – I never stopped swooning over as I moved from childhood into adulthood. Nothing tasted better than melted cheese sandwiched between buttery bread on a cold day and dipping it into chicken noodle soup. That’s right, I said chicken noodle soup. Tomato soup just isn’t my jam. Thankfully, grilled cheese goes well with about any soup.
Entering into the holiday season, our schedules can be a bit harried. There are more nights than I’d like to publicly admit where we are running home late and trying to figure out dinner on the fly. Meal planning works great in theory, but only if there’s enough time to put an actual meal together! Another positive check mark for the grilled cheese sandwich.
As an adult, grilled cheese has become a bit more elevated. I like to experiment with different cheeses, breads, and fillings and over the years have found a few personal favorites – one of which I am sharing below!
Grilled cheese can be a great vehicle for including more vegetables into a family meal, too. Hear me out – I know, it sounds a bit unbelievable. Ha! And, it may not work for all kids – especially if you have a little one who likes to pull out vegetables and place them on her napkin or hands them to you while saying ‘ew’ instead of tasting them (yep, I’ve got one of them). However, for kids with a bit more interest in trying new foods or flavors, adding vegetables to a favorite like grilled cheese is a great place to start. Layer up some old favorites with a new taste and you may just find a new favorite recipe!
When we’re talking nutrition, cheese can sometimes get a bad reputation. I started as a dietitian during the height of the low-fat diet phase and was convinced that fat-free cheese was the way to go for all future grilled cheese sandwiches and cheese in general. However, my grilled cheese didn’t melt quite as well and didn’t taste quite as great. It turned out that cheese needed fat to tantalize my taste buds and melt! I started to reintroduce fuller fat cheeses back into my diet as part of sandwiches and as a sprinkling on top of soups and salads.
My Veggie Stuffed Grilled Cheese not only tastes great but has lots of excellent nutrition packed into it. With two slices of mozzarella, you can meet about 1/3 of your daily calcium needs, which is about the same as an 8 ounce glass of milk. Since calcium intake for many is below recommendations, according to the 2015-2020 US Dietary Guidelines for Americans, this grilled cheese sandwich and others like it can be another addition to our bone-building toolbox! The added vegetables and sprouted wheat bread add other great nutrients, like vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber.
Veggie Stuffed Grilled Cheese
Makes 1 sandwich
- 1/4 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
- 1/4 medium red pepper, sliced
- 1 cup spinach leaves
- Ground black pepper
- 2 slices sprouted wheat bread
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 2 slices mozzarella cheese
- Spray medium skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Saute sliced zucchini and red bell peppers on medium heat, about 5 minutes. Add spinach. Season with black pepper, if desired. Remove cooked vegetables from skillet and set aside.
- Build grilled cheese: Butter 1 slice bread with 1/2 Tbsp. butter. Place in skillet over medium heat, butter side down. Add 1 slice of mozzarella, then vegetables, then last slice of mozzarella. Spread remaining butter onto last slice of bread and place on top of sandwich, butter facing up.
- Once cheese has started to melt and bread has started to brown, flip grilled cheese to other side. Grilled cheese is done once both sides of bread have browned and cheese is melted.
Nutrition Facts (per sandwich): 367 calories, 18.3 g fat (7 g saturated, 2 g monounsaturated), 493 mg sodium, 286 mg potassium, 29 g total carbohydrates (6.7 g dietary fiber, 6.1 g sugar), 19.6 g protein, 120% vitamin A, 176% vitamin C, 33.5% calcium, 14.5% iron
What do you like to add to your grilled cheese sandwiches? What’s your favorite ooey-gooey melty cheese? Let me know below!