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Cheese, if You Please

6 ways to lighten up your favorite cheese dishes

6 Tips for Cooking With Cheese continued...

4. Sprinkle, don't smother. Often, recipes for casseroles or other mixed dishes call for a blanket of cheese over the top. Yet a sprinkling is enough to do the trick. I'm talking about a cup and a half of shredded cheese to cover a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, instead of 3 cups.

5. Pair cheese with healthy partners. Since cheese is a source of saturated fat, pair it with lower-fat and higher-fiber foods. Think pears, pasta, whole grains, beans, and vegetables instead of butter, high-fat crackers and pastries, and high-fat meats like salami or sausage.

6. Fat-free cheese may not please. I've personally never tasted a fat-free cheese I've liked, so if you're looking to find one, proceed with caution. It isn't going to melt like real cheese or taste like real cheese -- it just isn't. I've learned that manufacturers sometimes go too far when taking the fat out of food ingredients. When that happens, the fat-free food has very little in common -- chemically or aesthetically -- with the original food. Fat-free margarine, anyone?

Cheese Comparisons

There are lots of types of cheese out there in supermarket-land. You can even buy cheese made from soy milk or goats' milk. And if your grocery store has a deli cheese section, you'll find all sorts of imported and domestic cheese, from feta and farmers to Gouda and Gruyere.

Here are how a few of the more common options measure up nutritionally:

(1 ounce)
Calories

Fat
(gm)

Saturated
Fat (gm)
Protein
(gm)
Cholesterol
(mg)
Calcium
(% Daily Value)
Reduced-Fat Cheeses:
Kraft 2% Sharp Cheddar
90
6
4
7
20
20%
Part-skim mozzarella
80
5
3
8
15
25%
Borden 2% American Slices
67
4
2.7
5.4
14
40%
Regular Cheeses:
Cheddar
114
9.4
6
7
30
26%
Monterey Jack
106
8.6
5.4
7
25
26%
Parmesan
111
7.3
4.7
10
19
42%
Brie
95
8
5
6
28
7%

Cheese Recipes

Ready to try some healthy cheese cookery? Here are a couple of recipes to get you started.

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Breast

Journal as: 1 serving of lean meat without added fat + 1/4 cup "starchy foods and legumes without added fat"
OR 1 slice bread

3/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley (or 1/4 cup dried parsley flakes)
2/3 cup plain (or Italian) dried breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon zest
4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
Canola or olive oil cooking spray

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with foil; coat the foil with canola cooking spray.
  • Add parsley, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, pepper, and lemon zest to medium bowl and blend well.
  • Press both sides of each chicken breast in breadcrumb mixture, and place in prepared pan. Coat the top of each crusted breast lightly with cooking spray.
  • Bake until the chicken is completely cooked through, and the tops and bottoms are lightly browned (about 25 minutes).

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