A grilled cheese sandwich is the epitome of comfort food: Creamy, melty goodness on warm, buttery bread. Test Kitchen intern Rachael Daylong shares her tips for transforming the everyday sandwich into a healthier meal suited for a special occasion--or well, even just a night in.

Although I never require a reason to whip up a grilled cheese sandwich, having an extra excuse is always a plus--especially especially when it comes in the form of an entire month!! All over the Internet in April, you will see blog posts and stories with pictures of piled-high sandwiches, oozing with heart-stopping amounts of cheese. And while that type of overindulgence has its place, I prefer to enjoy my warm and cheesy sandwiches more often than as an occasional treat.

Use a combination of cheeses. When you want to make a lower-fat grilled cheese
sandwich, the easiest and most common way is to use a low-fat cheese. However, while these cheeses usually melt just fine, they sometimes lack fundamental cheese flavors. To help with this problem I love to combine low-fat cheeses like reduced fat sharp white cheddar, with hard cheeses like parmesan or gruyere. Not only are hard cheeses low in fat, but they are bursting with smoky, cheesy flavor!

Try It: Our Grilled Gruyère and Olive Tapenade Sandwiches uses Gruyère cheese with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Add some veggies! Adding vegetables to a grilled cheese is obviously a great way to bulk up the sandwich, but it also gives you the opportunity to try more grown-up flavors. One of my favorite combinations is mozzarella, tomato, olives, and red onion on ciabatta bread. You can also try low-fat white cheddar, parmesan, sun dried tomato and spinach on French loaf.

Try It: Our grown-up Grilled Vegetable and Mozzarella Sandwiches use zucchini, red onion, red bell pepper and salad greens

Change up the bread. I love pre-sliced white sandwich bread for my grilled cheese as much as the next guy, but if you are going to eat grilled cheese sandwiches more than once in a blue moon, you may want to consider other options. Lean dough breads, such as French baguettes and ciabatta, are a healthier option because they have no added fat or sugar in the dough. (They are traditionally made with only flour, water, yeast, and salt). And of course

whole grain breads are always a better option if you don’t mind these dark breads paired with gooey cheese. 

Try It: Try our Grilled Tomato and Brie Sandwich for a whole-grain option.

Have a Happy Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day!!