You may ask why this classic savoury comfort food has the month of April dedicated to it. Then I asked myself, why not go with it and dedicate a blog to one of my favourite foods cheese and one of North American’s much-loved sandwiches!
The First Grilled Cheese
It’s thought that the grilled cheese originated in the 1920s, first appearing in Iowa somewhere as an open-faced sandwich made with American (processed) cheese. The concept became more popular during the Great Depression because of the inexpensive ingredients of the white bread and processed cheese. That is when the second slice of bread was added to complete the classic grilled cheese sandwich known today.
Not Just on the Kid’s Menu
Fast forward and I’ll ask you, “Have you spent $15 or more for a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich?” I was in a restaurant in Laguna Beach, California and they were charging $22 for a grilled cheese made with two types of cheese including blue! This is not just an option for the kid’s menu anymore.
Do you remember the grilled cheese scene from Jon Favreau’s movie Chef that was released last summer? The original classic combining processed cheese and white bread served with a bottle of the best (ketchup) has evolved into a gourmet must-have and is on menus everywhere from food trucks to fine dining restaurants. What was once mostly an at-home sandwich is now trending and being successfully sold across the world. My at-home favourite creations are sourdough bread, aged cheddar cheese with a side of vegetable chutney and dark rye bread, brie cheese with a light spread of tapenade. They are delish. Let me know what your favourites are too!
I couldn’t end this post without identifying the nutritional benefits of cheese. Cheese is a nutrient dense food, so it is important to monitor portion size. In a one ounce serving of full fat Cheddar there are 113 calories, 7 grams of protein and 9 grams of fat. Cheese in moderation promotes bone and immune health as it is a source of calcium, protein, vitamin A, riboflavin, niacin, and folate.
Cheese has saturated fat but also contains omega-3 fatty acids and linoleic acid which are shown to promote heart health (1). There are multiple low-fat cheese options available. I like the taste, texture and melt of full fat, so I watch the portion size. And I’ll share a tip with you that I use when making grilled cheese with Cheddar – grate it! You’ll use less and it will melt better!
Keep in mind grilled cheese sandwiches are not low calorie! With April being National Grilled Cheese Month there are a number of recipes popping up everywhere. Check out the 20 Grilled Cheese Makeovers from CookingLight.com. And remember to enjoy in moderation, as this gourmet must-have with minimal ingredients can pack anywhere from 400 to 500 delicious calories per sandwich!
- McIntosh G, Roupas P, Royle P. Cheese, omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid and human health. Aust J Dairy Technol. 2006;61(2):142-146.