healthy thanksgiving

The Best Thanksgiving Grilled Cheese

cranberry grilled cheese

This recipe video was sponsored by Cape Cod Select Cranberries. I only work with brands that I truly like and would recommend. 

This recipe was part of the monthly #letsberealmeals recipe project, a project featuring simple, healthy recipes created by registered dietitians. Follow along here.

I'll be honest, I was pretty impressed with this grilled cheese. I even served it to a group of (harder to please) guys, who were equally as impressed. We tried it with both brie and white cheddar, both were good, but we all agreed the cheddar stood out over the brie. 

I grew up spending summers on Cape Cod back in Massachusetts, so I was excited to connect with Cape Cod Select Cranberries, and equally impressed I found them all the way out in Montana. These cranberries seem bigger, brighter, and even sweeter than the standard cranberries. Plus, the frozen version is super easy to cook with. I'm a big fan.

cheddar apple grilled cheese

I love a good cranberry sauce. And as much as I like sugar, many cranberry sauces have a bit much for me. I love the natural sweetness and slight tartness of cranberries and would rather not mask these natural flavors with a bunch of added sugar. This cranberry sauce I made is just the right amount of sweet and tart to compliment the cheddar and apples. If you prefer it sweeter, you can add more maple syrup.

Check out my latest recipe video below featuring this amazing cran apple grilled cheese!



Cranberry Sauce
1.5 cups Cape Cod Select Cranberries
1 ripe orange, juiced
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup

Grilled Cheese
1/2 a Granny Smith apple, sliced thinly
2 oz white cheddar cheese
2 slices sourdough bread (I found cran orange sourdough in the bakery of my local store)
1/4 cup cranberry sauce

Your measurements for the grilled cheese may vary based on the size of your bread, use enough of each to cover one slice of bread in a single layer.


1. Heat ingredients for cranberry sauce in a medium size pot over medium heat. As it begins to boil, mash the berries into a sauce. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated and it reaches your desired consistency.

2. Lightly butter one side of each slice of bread.

3.  On the unbuttered side of one slice of bread - layer cranberry sauce, then apples, then cheese. Top with the other slice of bread - buttered side facing out.

4. Heat fry pan over medium heat. Fry the sandwich on each side for about 3 minutes each until the cheese melts and the bread is golden brown. I recommend covering the fry pan with a lid to keep the heat in and help the cheese melt without the bread burning.

5. Slice in half and enjoy!

Tips for a Healthier Holiday

Each year, the average American consumes 2,000-4,000 calories at Thanksgiving dinner, more than most people should consume in an entire day. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, the average person gains 1 to 2 pounds. Although it doesn’t sound like much, the problem is that many people never lose the extra weight and pack it on year after year. Read on for a few tips on how to cut down on calories while still enjoying the holiday season with friends, family, and food.

Rethink Your Table

Hosting this year? Set your table with smaller plates, your guests will thank you! Research has shown that by just switching to a 10-inch plate compared to a 12-inch plate, consumers eat 30% less. Swapping out your plates for a whole year could help you lose up to 18 pounds! (You could also consider using smaller serving utensils!)

No matter who’s hosting, think about your seat at the table. Baskets of rolls, trays of butter, and gravy boats are typically placed in the center of the table for easy access. Consider sitting at one of the far ends of the table, where you’ll be far less likely to grab that extra roll, extra pat of butter, or extra ladle of gravy just by seating yourself a bit out of reach.

Just Another Meal

Often, people will skip breakfast or lunch to prepare for the holiday meal. If you treat the main Thanksgiving Day meal as a typical lunch or dinner you won’t be as likely to overeat. Skipping meals in general may cause us to eat more the next time we eat, often whether we realize it or not. When we skip meals, our bodies enter starvation mode causing us to store more energy as fat the next time we eat. This Thanksgiving, try eating until you’re about 80% full. After about 20 minutes, if you’re still hungry, go back for seconds or dessert will likely be on its way!

What About Dessert?

Dessert can be overwhelming at holiday parties with so many amazing choices that you only see around this time of year. Try to pick just 1 or 2 items that you really want and don’t go crazy with portions. Remember that Thanksgiving is just the beginning of the holiday season and you will likely see many of these same desserts at the next holiday party.

If you’re in charge of dessert this year, consider baked apples with cinnamon and whipped cream or a crust-free apple crumble. Offer your guests whipped cream over ice cream or pumpkin pie over apple. Pumpkin pie is typically lower in calories because it only has crust on the bottom (you could even try a crust-less pumpkin pie).

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!