Eating Well With Kim: More Cheese, Please!

By: Kim Beavers Email
By: Kim Beavers Email

Monday, Aug. 27, 2012

Can you believe I did not like cheese when I was a kid? I used to peel it off the pizza and just eat crust and tomato paste (I was a weird kid, I know).

Well, now as an adult, I would not mind it if I did not like cheese since it is high in saturated fat and calories. The good news is that cheese comes in lower fat varieties these days, many of which are good, and a little bit of a good quality high fat cheese goes a long way in terms of flavor.

This week Tim and I reviewed soft cheeses at the store.

Cottage cheese is actually quite a nice softer cheese, as it is high in protein and calcium. It also comes in low fat and fat-free varieties. The issue with cottage cheese is in the sodium content. A half cup serving can have almost 400mg sodium (ouch). Fortunately, Breakstone now makes a 2 percent lower sodium cottage cheese. I think it tastes wonderful and I commend them for being first on the shelves in the lower sodium cottage cheese market. Sodium content is still high at 290mg but that is 30 percent lower than regular. A good goal when choosing cottage cheese is to look for one with 1.5g saturated fat and 300mg sodium or less per half cup.

Ricotta cheese, something we are familiar with in lasagna and cheesecake. Part skim ricotta cheese is actually still high in saturated fat with about 3g per serving, depending on brand. However, low fat varieties can be found in our local market (Yippee!). The low fat variety contains about 1.5g saturated fat and I have had success using it in both lasagna and dessert -- not cheesecake -- but dessert nonetheless.

Cream cheese: This one hurts me to talk about because I do like/love cream cheese especially on a big ole “everything bagel." I have many happy morning memories at various bagel shops around town. However, at home, I try to stay away from cream cheese -- even the reduced fat type -- because it has few nutrients and 3g saturated fat in a two tablespoon serving (bummer). I just keep cream cheese on my “occasional” food list, which is also where I keep my “everything bagel." I would advise you to do the same!

Feta and goat cheese are two culinary pleasures and I have seen them in the fat-free variety, too. As you know, I shy away from fat-free things, however, sometimes when developing a recipe with a student, they will use fat-free feta and I must admit that when it is in a recipe, I have not been able to tell a difference. Goat cheese is a bit lower in saturated fat and sodium, as a general rule. Two brands that have a lower saturated fat content include: Presidents Feta Cheese and Chavrie Goats Milk Cheese.

Finally, we come to the broad category of spreadable cheeses -- some of which are off the chart on fat and calories. Many of them are cream cheese based, so not exceptionally high in protein or calcium.

A good rule of thumb when choosing spreadable cheese is to look for options with no more than 3g saturated fat and 200mg sodium. Two good options are: Alouette Light and Boursin Vermont White Cheddar and Sage.

Until next time: eat well, live well!

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