C is for Cookie: A Cheese by another name tastes great and is low-cal too!

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Cheese by another name tastes great and is low-cal too!

For all you cheese and dip lovers, I have a healthy new suggestion. I tried a new dip by the TreStelle company made with low-fat ricotta and it's a winner! I've been cooking with ricotta cheese for a few years now and it's a good, creamy, low-fat substitute for cottage or cream cheese, and an excellent ingredient in cheesecakes, lasagna, and other creamy dishes.

TreStelle's new ricotta cheese spreads come in 1 savoury flavour and 3 sweet ones: spinach and garlic, strawberry, blueberry, and tropical fruit. I bought the Spinach one and I'll admit I added about 2/3 tsp of garlic salt to it because I found it a bit mild on the garlic side. Kudos to them for making a low-sodium product, too, and shame on me for wanting to add more salt. The best news of all though is that 4 whopping tablespoons of this dip amounts to only 100 calories and 6 g of fat*. That's incredibly low compared, for example, to cream cheese which has 8 times the calories and 4 times as much fat.

I would recommend sticking to the savoury dip because it's easy to pair with cut up veggies like bell peppers, cucumber, celery, carrots, snow or sugar-snap peas and steamed broccoli, green beans or cauliflower. Fruit flavoured versions will keep up the sugar cravings because naturally they're sweet and they beg to be spread on bagels or have sweet fruits like strawberries or pinneapple dipped into them. The other benefit of the spinach spread is that it's a great alternative to butter or margarine as a low-fat spread for whole-grain crackers or healthy sandwiches.

The more we support companies by purchasing their healthy products, the more we tell these manufacturers that we want them to produce foods that support our heath, not endanger it.

*NOTE: the actual serving size says 5 Tbsp is 70g and contains 6g fat and 100 calories but that entire container only holds 270 g. There did not appear to be 15 or more Tablespoons in that small container so I was skeptical. I did my own measuring using my own scale and found that 70g was approximately 4 Tbsp of the spread. Still a great nutritional value though!

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