Cheese, cheese, and more cheese

By: Kim Beavers Email
By: Kim Beavers Email

Cheese is something just about everyone enjoys! My favorite way to eat it is to take a piece of extra sharp cheddar, thinly slice it and put it on an apple wedge (Granny Smith preferred). However, it is high and fat and in the full fat version should really only be eaten in moderation.

Suggestions on shopping for cheese and keeping your diet low in saturated fat:

  • Look for cheese with 3g saturated fat or less per serving

  • Look for cheese with 280mg sodium or less per serving

  • Use shredded cheese (it is easy to sprinkle over things plus a little looks like a lot which is always nice)

  • Snack cheese or pre-cut and pre-portioned cheeses are nice to help keep portion sizes in check.

Kim’s Quick (local) Picks:

  • Cracker Barrel 2% sharp cheddar (although a little higher in saturated fat with 3.5g saturated)

  • Cabot® 50% Reduced fat Sharp cheddar (sometimes I have a hard time finding this one…if we ask for it and buy it they will stock it)!

  • Store brand reduced fat shredded usually fits the nutrition guidelines and is less expensive.

  • The Laughing Cow Babybel Light or Sargento Light Mozzarella String

*Disclaimer: these quick picks are not meant to purposely promote or exclude any particular brands. I have not tried all available local light cheese, but these are the choices that fit my guideline for nutrition and that I personally enjoy from a flavor standpoint.

Sometimes a reduced fat variety is not available, and that is when flavor really matters. The key to fitting full fat cheese into a healthy diet is concentrated flavor.

Good choices include:

  • Extra sharp cheddar

  • Goat cheese (crumble on salad, spread on crackers or fruit). Goat cheese has a little less fat than harder cheese like cheddar.

  • Feta is also a lovely full flavored cheese AND it come in a lower fat variety now as well which is very good.

  • Parmesan (my favorite) shredded or grated is a great way to add a flavor boost to veggies, pasta, and salad. One tablespoon of shredded is 25 calories, 1.5g fat, 1g saturated fat, 80mg sodium.

  • For a real treat try REAL Parmigiano-Reggiano. You can identify it by the rind, which is stamped Parmigiano-Reggiano. This means the cheese was produced in the Parma area of Italy. It is expensive and that alone will help you practice portion control. A note about sodium: real Parmesan is high in sodium, so if you do spring for it, reduce the sodium in your recipe.

Bottom line: "A little goes a long way" is the secret to using cheese (reduced-fat or full fat) in a healthy diet.

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