Cheese: Clever Ways to Keep Calories Low
Cheeses are packed with nutrition and are a valuable source of calcium, so they play an important part in our diet.
There is a bewildering choice of wonderful cheeses available to us; and not just from the supermarket dairy and deli counters, but from glorious Continental market stalls and even whole shops devoted to just cheese.
Be Sparing with the PortionsPay attention to the portions you are eating and aim to eat no more than 45-60 grams of the reduced fat varieties (two ounces). On the occasions when you are using full-fat cheeses, cut down the portion size.
Types of CheeseThe calorie and fat content of cheeses varies considerably. Use the following guides for a few of the most popular cheeses. With the exception of Parmesan, the figures all relate to a serving of 28 grams (1oz).
- Camembert cheese is delicately flavoured and softens as it matures, oozing when it is cut open. Camembert has 89 calories and a fat content of 7.1 grams.
- Cheddar is a high calorie, high fat cheese with 124 calories and 10.3 grams of fat. Use reduced-fat cheddar at around 74-98 calories and 3-4 grams of fat.
- Cottage Cheese is a fresh curd cheese. It is very low in fat (0.5 grams) and has only 29 calories.
- Moist, crumbly Greek Feta cheese has grown in popularity. It is medium-fat (6.1 grams), made from either goat’s or sheep’s milk and is a low calorie 75.
- Fromage Frais is a light, fresh French cheese with the consistency of thick yogurt, and a refreshing, slightly tart taste. Use low fat varieties for healthy, low calorie sauces, salad dressings and dessert toppings. It has 34 calories and 2 grams of fat.
- Italian Mozzarella is one of the best soft cheeses for cooking as it melts so easily. It has 87 calories and 7.5 grams of fat.
- Hard, strong-tasting Parmesan is ripened for two years before it is sold, which is why it is more expensive. Use only a little, however, and buy it in a fresh block if possible. The values for this cheese are for 1 teaspoon only, and are 23 calories and 1.5 grams of fat.
- Use soft, fresh Ricotta in cooking for savoury and sweet dishes. It has 43 calories and 3.3 grams of fat.
- Stilton, the English blue cheese, crumbles easily for whisking into white sauces or dressings. It has a high 133 calories and 10.6 grams of fat respectively.
Lighter Cheese SauceA cheese sauce is versatile and having a low fat version in your repertoire will pay dividends. Forget about butter, use semi-skimmed milk and use a mixture of low-fat cheeses.
- 3 tbsp cornflour
- 500ml skimmed milk
- grated nutmeg
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp made mustard
- 40 grams grated low fat Cheddar
- 40 grams grated low-fat Mozzarella
Heat the milk gently with a good grating of nutmeg and salt and pepper. Mix the cornflour with 50 ml of the milk then whisk it into the heated milk, continuing to cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened. Add the mustard and cheeses and mix to complete.
Pizza ToppingMake your own low fat topping for a Margherita pizza.
- Make a basic tomato sauce by simmering a chopped shallot, a crushed garlic clove, 1 tbsp tomato puree, 1 tsp dried oregano and freshly ground black pepper in the juices drained from a 400 gram can of tomatoes. Then add the chopped tomatoes and continue to simmer until thick and cooked.
- Brush the pizza base with a little olive oil and spread the tomato sauce on top. Take sliced rings of onion and place them on top. Lastly cover with slices of light mozzarella cheese (125 grams).
- Bake for 15-20 minutes in a moderate oven.
Healthy LasagneThis meatless lasagne recipe uses reduced fat Cheddar and a little Parmesan to give a low fat dish.
- Preheat the oven to Gas mark 5 (190 degrees C). Make tomato sauce as above but use 2 tins tomatoes, replace oregano with basil and add 150 ml vegetable stock for a more liquid sauce.
- In a bowl, combine thoroughly 450 grams frozen spinach, defrosted and sieved to remove excess water; 250 gram tub of ricotta cheese; half teaspoon ground nutmeg; and freshly ground black pepper.
- Pour half the tomato sauce over the base of a shallow ovenproof dish, place a layer of lasagne sheets over the sauce, followed by ricotta mixture, more lasagne sheets and the remainder of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle 25 grams of reduced fat Cheddar and 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan over the top.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes.