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5 great-tasting Cheddars you don’t have to feel bad about eating

By Carolyn Malcoun, June 30, 2010 - 10:54am

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5 great-tasting Cheddars you don’t have to feel bad about eating

If I had to pick the one food that’s my biggest weakness, without question it would be cheese. Every day I include cheese in my breakfast—over-hard egg (like over-easy but with a hard yolk) on whole-grain toast with a little super-sharp Cheddar—and if we have pasta or Mexican for dinner, I’m most likely going to sprinkle a little on top. And I love cheese and crackers for a simple snack. (Find out how to buy the healthiest crackers to snack on.)

Cheese is rich in calcium, a bone-strengthening mineral that most of us don’t get enough of, so I know I shouldn’t exclude it from my diet. Get 20 Healthy Cheesy Recipes for Strong Bones here.

But since many cheeses are high in saturated fat and calories, I often choose reduced-fat Cheddar because I’m watching my weight. (What other “bad” foods should you be eating?) A cup of reduced-fat Cheddar saves about 90 calories, 14 grams of fat and 8 grams of saturated fat, over regular Cheddar.

I can understand if you’re turning up your nose at the mention of reduced-fat cheese, given that some of these products are flavorless and have the texture of, say, rubber. Many of EatingWell’s recipes—including super-easy Loaded Twice-Baked Potatoes and potluck-perfect 7-Layer Salad—regularly call for reduced-fat cheeses. So we decided to put several supermarket brands of reduced-fat Cheddar to the test in the EatingWell Test Kitchen. The term “reduced-fat” means the product has at least 25 percent less fat than the full-fat version—but must that translate to reduced flavor as well?

What were our favorites?

  • Cracker Barrel 2% Milk Natural Cheese, Extra Sharp Cheddar
    This cheese was the top pick by five of our six panelists. It also had the highest marks in appearance, taste and texture. Per 1-ounce serving: 90 calories; 6 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat).
  • Cabot 50% Light
    One taster felt it was “sharper and cheesier” than the others, while another was fond of the flavor but wasn’t as keen about its texture. Per 1-ounce serving: 70 calories; 4.5 g fat (3 g saturated fat).
  • Kraft 2% Milk Natural Reduced Fat Mild Cheddar Cheese
    This was a favorite of one tester who was pleased with the chewy, gooey texture. The sharpness appealed to our food editor, Jessie Price, who thought this one would be a winner melted on nachos. But one of our testers disliked its texture and believed the only place for it was atop a bland saltine. Per 1-ounce serving: 90 calories; 6 g fat (4 g saturated fat).

Other cheeses EatingWell liked:

  • Crystal Farms Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese Per 1-ounce serving: 90 calories; 6 g fat (4 g saturated fat).
  • Tillamook Reduced Fat Medium Cheddar Cheese Per 1-ounce serving: 90 calories; 6 g fat (4 g saturated fat).

What are your favorite reduced-fat cheeses? Tell us what you think below.

TAGS: Carolyn Malcoun, Healthy Cooking Blog, Product reviews, Taste test, Weight loss

Carolyn Malcoun
Carolyn Malcoun combines her love of food and writing as a recipe contributor for EatingWell. Carolyn has a culinary arts degree from New England Culinary Institute and a degree in journalism from University of Wisconsin—Madison. Carolyn lives in Burlington, Vermont, and enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking and running in her free time.

Carolyn asks: What are your favorite reduced-fat cheeses?

Tell us what you think:

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