March 05, 2014

Making an iconic grilled cheese—complete with gooey, melty goodness contrasted against golden-crisp bread—is no small feat for a nutrition-minded cook. An impeccably creamy interior is easy to achieve with several ounces of hearty cheddar, and even easier with American. Fry it (let's not kid ourselves by calling this a sauté) in a chunk of butter, and you're in 400-plus-calorie territory, double-digit sat fat, and nearly 1,000 milligrams of sodium for a three-ingredient meal.

Reduced-fat cheese would be an obvious swap, but meltability is a problem. We found it worth using a few more ingredients to duplicate the irresistible texture of the original. Reduced-fat shredded cheddar combines with light cream cheese and canola mayo for a mixture that has 40% less saturated fat than regular cheddar. When slathered on whole-grain bread and sautéed in olive oil, the mixture melts into the gloriously silky, ultracheesy filling you see here. As for swapping olive oil for butter, it saves an additional 7 grams of sat fat.

THE FORMULACombine ½ ounce 1/3-less-fat cream cheese and 1 teaspoon canola mayo. Add 1 ounce 2% reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese. Spread between 2 (1-ounce) slices whole-grain bread. Heat a small skillet over medium heat; sear each side in ¼ teaspoon olive oil until bread is browned and crisp.CALORIES 288; FAT 13.8g (sat 5.8g); SODIUM 556mg

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