What’s gouda, friends? Sorry for the cheesy puns, but you feta believe that I wasn’t going to let this go without throwing some cheese puns into the mix. Anyway, back to actual content…
When it comes to cheese, there are about 5 million variations you can go with. Head over to the grocery store and you might find 5 different brands of cheddar cheese alone, all with slightly different nutrition. So while these numbers aren’t always going to be exact, they should give you a solid idea!
Cottage & Ricotta cheese are much lower in calories than most the others on this guide, but that is solely because contain more liquid. 1oz of either of those will not go as far as 1oz of a soft or solid cheese. If you’re going to snack on cottage cheese, you’re going to measure it by 1/2 cup measurements in all likelihood, so don’t necessarily be fooled by the low calorie content here.
And of course, many cheeses now have varying levels of fat. This guide is for the typical full-fat versions. There are many low fat or completely fat free versions of feta, mozzarella, cheddar, and more, which will obviously have lower calories and fat.
When I buy cheese, I tend to look for lower-fat options. I don’t do this because I fear eating too high-fat, but fat comes with extra calories that I like to avoid when I can. Don’t get me wrong, I’m never going to turn down some full-fat pizza or lasagna! But if I can opt for a part-skim cheese, I’ll typically do that for my own cooking.
Lower fat cheeses don’t quite taste the same (fat = flavor) but depending on the application, they totally work. I regularly use low-fat ricotta because once cooked, I don’t taste a difference. For a while I would eat fat free shredded cheese like mozzarella and cheddar, but I’ve found that they don’t melt very well due to the lack of fat. If you make a pizza with fat free mozzarella, you’re never going to get that delicious cheese-pull that we love so much.
I purposely left American Cheese off this guide because I wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of scrutiny from the cheese police- American cheese is not technically cheese, but a “pasteurized processed cheese product.” To put it simply, American cheese is a bunch of different cheese & other ingredients processed together to make a different cheese product. But… it makes a great grilled cheese. The fact that it’s processed doesn’t bother me, but we’ll stick to the pure cheeses for these purposes.
I very well may have left your favorite cheese off this guide, and for that I apologize. I will add that the different “jack” cheeses (Monterey, Colby, Pepper Jack) are very similar nutritionally to cheddar, so you can group them all together.
Personally, my favorite cheese is pepper jack, which is a spicy version of monterey jack cheese, although I don’t eat it very often. Cheese typically doesn’t sit super well with me so I try to limit my consumption, but there are certain times when you just have to make an exception: pizza, pasta, mac & cheese, grilled cheese… okay, I’m drooling.
I think it’s time for a grilled cheese lunch today. American cheese, here I come!