A grilled cheese sandwich can be so much more

Create unique variations of grilled cheese sandwiches by trying different cheeses, breads and adding vegetables or fruit.

A grilled cheese sandwich is a classicGRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHcomfort food for many, especially as our days get shorter and cooler. They can be an easy meal, especially when combined with veggie and tomato soup, or veggies or fruit on the side. We can create grilled cheese cuisine by adding many different ingredients to our sandwiches. For starters, we can grill many different kinds of cheese instead of using the usual cheddar or American varieties. Good varieties include Swiss, mozzarella, Gouda, Edam, provolone and more. Cheese flavors range from mild to sharp, slightly sweet to spicy and can be paired with other foods that complement their flavors.

To make your grilled cheese sandwiches more fun and interesting, grill a few vegetables like green pepper, onion or zucchini in the skillet, assemble your lightly buttered bread, cheese and the grilled vegetables, and then grill until the cheese is completely melted. Try other vegetables as well, like tomato, leeks, mushrooms, or spinach. Fruits like sliced apple, pear or chopped cherries with Swiss or provolone will create a taste you’ll be sure to want again.

As well as experimenting with different kinds of cheese and vegetables, many different kinds of bread including pumpernickel, rye and various specialty breads add new dimensions of flavor to a grilled cheese. Michigan State University Extension recommends using whole grain breads to make half of your grains whole. By choosing whole grain breads you can boost the fiber and other nutrients in your meal. Most combinations can easily be turned into quesadillas by substituting tortillas for the bread.

Once your sandwich is complete, you can plate it with a tossed salad or a bowl of hot soup to complete a meal with lots of nutrient loaded vegetables. In addition, cheese and other dairy foods are high in protein and calcium to help us lead a healthy diet. The United Dairy Industry of Michigan has many ideas for using cheese and other dairy foods to increase your calcium and protein.

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