Real cheese choices

Options for a low-fat lifestyle

Recipes


A low-fat lifestyle and the pleasures of cheese don't have to be mutually exclusive. Some cheeses are naturally low in fat, and many of today's fat-trimmed cheeses have satisfying flavors, ranging from mild to sharp, although they tend to be less complex than their full-fat counterparts. And they do melt, if not quite as well.

Compared with its role model, a trimmed-down cheese may have only a few grams less fat per ounce (see chart below). But if you cook with cheese by the cupful, this can make a difference. Reduced-fat cheese contains at least 25 percent less fat than regular. Light cheese contains one-third fewer calories or 50 percent less fat. Low-fat cheese must have no more than 3 grams of fat per ounce. Part-skim mozzarella cheese has 26 percent less fat.

In a Sunset tasting, these lower-fat products all fared well for flavor, melting quality, and texture. However, cheeses processed to remove all fat tend to have an unusual, uncheeselike flavor, and they get gummy when heated.

Some cheeses don't need any adjusting to meet low-fat goals. Two regular cheeses you may not have considered for low-fat cooking are intensely flavored parmesan and sap sago ― particularly the latter, which is made from whey and therefore naturally nonfat. Grated, a little of either hard cheese goes a long way toward enhancing the character of other cheeses. In combination with a fat-trimmed type, they can give traditionally high-fat pizza and toasted cheese sandwiches plenty of taste ― and a trim profile.

FAT FACTS

Check the label of each cheese you buy for nutrition information. This chart gives ranges found in reduced-fat, light, low-fat, and part-skim cheeses.

CHEESE REGULAR FAT-TRIMMED
Per oz. Gm. fat Cal. Gm. fat Cal.
Cheddar 9-10 110-120 1.5-6 50-90
Jack 8-9 100-110 6 80-90
Mozzarella 6 80 1.5-4.5 50-72
Parmesan 7-8 106-111 n/a n/a
Sap sago 0 51 n/a n/a
Swiss 7.8-8 107-110 4-6.5 80-90


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