5 great-tasting Cheddars you don’t have to feel bad about eating
By Carolyn Malcoun, June 30, 2010 - 10:54am
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.