Decadence AND a clear conscience

We’re coming up on the season of comfort food. Summers call for salads and fresh veggies and all those things that keep doctors and nutritionists smiling.

Fall and winter, however, beg for warm, rich, gooey foods that ease the onslaught of ice and snow. Calories equal heat, right? Makes sense.

The trouble is, for those of us trying to be healthy, comfort foods can make our consciences distinctly UNcomfortable. We start living in the I-shouldn’t-but…zone.

Thus, my dilemma tonight. I was really, really in the mood for a grilled-cheese sandwich. I had just made a loaf of oatmeal walnut bread, and the thought of some nice, sharp cheddar sandwiched between those slices, done to a golden brown, grew more appealing by the minute. I confess I don’t have a problem with thinly sliced cheddar now and then, but grilling it in melted butter…?

So, I decided to try something different. Maybe people all over the country discovered this long ago, but for me it was a brand new idea. Why not, I thought, grill it in olive oil? That stuff is actually good for you, and I do like the taste of it. Restaurants serve herbed olive oil for bread dipping. How much different would this be?

So, I poured a small amount of olive oil in a frying pan, sprinkled garlic powder into that, and then a very small amount of garlic salt to approximate the salty taste butter leaves on a grilled sandwich.

And that was it. As soon as one side was done, I took it out, removed the pan from the heat long enough to add more oil and garlic, did the other side of the sandwich, and sat down to sample it.

It was great! In fact, it was so great, I can honestly say I prefer it to butter. Proof of how good it was is that I didn’t think to get a photo until I had only a couple bites left.

Dare I call it healthy?

Dare I call it healthy?

If the idea of the cheese bothers the cholesterol-conscious, just remember that small portions, now and then, are considered OK. Or, you could try some other kind of cheese for your sandwich, like part-skim mozzarella.

But no matter what you use for the filling, do try the olive oil for the grilling!

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About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
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