Grilled cheese sandwiches used to be a staple in our home. I loaded them up with cheese — usually a combination of Jack and Cheddar, and then cooked them in about an inch of melted butter — they were absolutely, to-die-for fabulous! Everyone in our family loved them, including my husband, who has a major aversion to cheese.
But, as the saying goes, “All good things must come to an end”, and when we switched to a plant-based diet, about a year ago, that was the end of our grilled cheese sandwich.
I know, I know — Horror of horrors and tragedy of tragedies!
But, hang on a bit… this story does have a happy ending.
Although our family now consumes a diet of, mainly, plant-based foods, we’ve learned that as long as we keep our consumption of animal-based protein to 5%, or less, of our overall diet, we still have the ability to stave off what are called ”diseases of affluence”, like heart disease, cancer and diabetes — our main reason for making the diet change (if you’re interested, here’s the movie that got it all started for us).
Here’s what our grilled cheese sandwiches look like, now…
They are loaded with chopped kale, apples, and a little bit of aged cheddar cheese — 5% that acts as the “glue” to help hold them all together! 🙂
For eight, sandwiches, I use a total of 7 oz. of aged cheddar cheese , about 2 cups of fresh, chopped kale from my garden, and one large, organic, red delicious apple. *A note on cheese selection: it’s best to use organic cheese that comes from grass-fed cows to avoid consuming GMOs, which will, most certainly, be found in the feed of non grass-fed cows — if you’re eating what they eat, then you may, unsuspectingly, be consuming genetically modified food, too.
I use Dave’s Killer Bread as the bookends on these sandwiches. I appreciate that the goal at this company is to “create the ultimate healthy bread using the best organic ingredients available on the market”, but what I love, even more, is the story about Dave, the man behind the bread — a wonderful, second-chance story, of an ex-con who has turned his life around, and is now paying it forward in many different ways.
I don’t think the process of putting this sandwich together takes any explanation, but a couple of hints on making it:
1. Slice your apples nice and thin – you want them to get nice and warm along with the other ingredients inside of the sandwich.
2. Shred your cheese, rather than slicing it. This way you can better control the amount that goes onto each sandwich.
2. Layer the kale and apples in between the cheese – as I said, you need some “glue” to hold it all together.
3. Lightly oil your griddle with a touch of coconut oil to help brown the bread – another good oil is grapeseed oil (these both remain stable at high heats). *You’ll want to avoid canola oil, as it is, most likely, genetically modified, and butter, as it is high in cholesterol and fat. (Technically, all oils are 100% fat, so, if you are cutting down on fat in your diet, just skip the oil altogether, it’ll still brown fairly nicely without it).
4. When flipping the sandwich, use a spatula underneath and your hand on the top to help hold the sandwich together while turning it over, otherwise you may end up with a big mess. 🙂
This sandwich is as nutritious as it is delicious. The pairing of cheese and apples is wonderful — I especially enjoy how the sweet balances out the strong aged cheddar flavor (another reason why you can get away with so little cheese), and the kale provides a nice, mild tasting third layer of flavor. For those who don’t like kale, spinach would also be a nice alternative, and so would some spicy arugula!
In fact, if you are strictly a plant-based eater, you could make an even healthier grilled cheese sandwich by using a vegan “cheez” sauce, like this one, which I am going to do the next time I make these.
So, although we no longer consume the traditional grilled cheese sandwich, loaded with cheese and cooked in oodles of butter, we haven’t completely given up on them.
The version we eat now, however, is more suited to helping us live “happily ever after”, and what better ending to a story could you ask for than that? 🙂