Q:I've noticed recently there is a lot of emphasis on "low fat" cheese. Although Cabot makes a delicious low fat cheese, I am curious as to why "low fat" and also what must be done (i.e. extra exercise etc.) to enjoy "regular" cheese?
I think there is really a use for each type of cheese. Low fat cheese is generally made of skimmed milk and sometimes has a mild textural difference. In the last few years, low fat cheese has improved in its ability to melt well. The higher the fat in a cheese, the better it tends to melt, but the higher it is in fat and calories. My general rule is to use reduced fat cheese in anything where I will not notice the difference. The best place for full-fat cheeses is to use them as a flavor enhancer in small amounts instead of as the main attraction in your meal.
I dont often recommend that people compensate for eating with tons of extra exercise. If you think about how many extra calories are in high fat foods like cheese, you get more bang for your buck by compensating with other calories and fats during the day. For example, if you eat an extra 300 calories in cheese (not hard to do), it could take you at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise (on top of your regular exercise) just to burn that off. A more effective strategy is to add 15 extra minutes to your workout AND cut back on a few of the other foods you are eating that day. This rule applies to any high fat/calorie meals.
Eating lower fat meats and less carbohydrates during that day are two effective strategies for cutting extra fat and calories that you will use on the higher fat items like cheese. This is really a process of experimentation. Everyones body can handle a different amount of these foods and still maintain/lose weight.
Here are some great cheese ideas that you might find enjoyable.
- When you are making a food like open-faced cheese toast, use only a small amount of full-fat cheese and spread it over the whole piece of toast when it is hot. That will allow you to use the cheese you love and reduce the fat and calories.
- Use Laughing Cow. Laughing Cow spreadable cheeses come in many flavors and can replace higher fat cheeses and add interest to dishes. Garlic and Herb flavor is amazing in scrambled egg whites. Most of the flavors are also fantastic when making alfredo sauce with low fat sour cream or Greek yogurt. These cheese wedges add a wonderfully creamy texture to hot spaghetti squash.
- Feta, Parmesan, and goat cheese are very flavorful cheeses, so a little bit goes a long way.