Usually while dining, the term “cheesy” refers to calorie bomb, most often in the form of a creamy, gooey, or melted. Though delicious, this cheese is usually accompanied with something being fried (MozzSticks), smothered (Enchiladas), or creamy (Alfredo).
Now cheese isn’t bad but there is a good and bad way to eat it.
CheeseStick – Good: Go for lowfat and have it with some almonds or an apple as an afternoon snack. I love Sargento because they even make flavored sticks like Pepper Jack & White Cheddar to switch it up.
Feta- Good: Enjoy it on a salad. The harder the cheese the better it is for you, honestly. Atheno is my personal favorite, even the reduced-fat version is amazing. Sprinkle it on salads and wraps.
Alfredo – Bad: It not only involves cheese but cream as well which is code for fat.
Queso – Bad: Not only is it creamy, gooey, and melted but it comes with a side salty chips. And you no, once you start you can’t stop.
If you really want cheese in your diet – try shredded cheese, a little goes a long ways and make it the reduced-fat or part-skim version. Cabot makes a great 50% fat free cheese in a variety of flavors. Need blue cheese, swiss cheese, Mexican cheese, or an herby cheese? Try Laughing Cow wedges. They’re 35 calories and low in fat. I’ve used them for quesadillas, buffalo wraps, alfredo sauces, and even just plain ol’ cheese & cracker snacks. This company is also the maker of the famous mini Babybel cheese rounds. Those are good in moderation as well – like a cheese stick type snack.
This being said, the king of cheese, at least in my opinion, is Goat Cheese aka Chevre. It’s French. It’s fancy. It’s creamy. It’s decadent. It’s full of flavor. It usually have 70-80 calories per ounce and around 6g of fat. Totally reasonable for cheese. Plus they make all types – spreadable logs, crumbles, and even cream cheese, I have a Fig flavor that’s great on bagel thins.
The below recipe is my ode to Chevre. Healthified of course! Often times while dining out, I’m drawn to a specific goat cheese salad, the encrusted goat cheese medallion salad that I often find on restaurant menus. However, I’ve never ordered it for I know the truth about this salad. This once healthy salad is destroyed in a restaurant kitchen with a dip in the fryer resulting in oil soaked cheese rounds.
So here’s my version at home version that’s quick and healthy.
Encrusted Goat Cheese Medallion Salad with Grapefruit Balsamic
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons whole almonds, finely chopped in a food processor
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons egg whites or 1 egg white
1-4oz log of Chevre cut into 6 rounds
1 grapefruit (3/4 sections with skins removed, 1/4 used for juicing)
Spring mix (3-4 cups or desired salad size)
1/4 cucumber, diced
handful of berries of choice, as garnish
additional almonds, coarsely chopped, as garnish
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed grapefruit juice (about 1 quarter of the fruit)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 – 2 teaspoons agave nectar or honey
In a bowl mix breadcrumbs, almonds, salt, pepper and basil.
In a 2nd bowl, place flour.
In a 3rd bowl place egg whites.
Take 4 of the 6 goat cheese rounds and dip the rounds in the flour then egg whites, then panko-almond mixture. You might need to press the crumb mixture into the grounds. Set aside. (Use your extra 2 rounds on a wrap later on)
Next make the balsamic dressing.
Heat balsamic vinegar over low heat on stove. Squeeze in 3 tablespoons of grapefruit juice (roughly a quarter of a grapefruit). Once warmed, stir in agave nectar or honey. Taste for desired sweetness. It should be sweet-tangy. Set aside.
Next, assemble the salads so they’re prepared when medallions are done cooking. Compile spring mix, cucumbers, grapefruit sections, berries, and roughly chopped almonds.
Finally, heavily spray a pan with olive oil (I use Pam Olive Oil). Heat on medium high and place medallions into pan. Cook 2-3 minutes per side until a brown and golden crust forms. Before flipping, spray the uncooked, top side with olive oil (3-4 second spray per round) and gently flip. Allow to cook until also golden and crispy. (You may need to re-spray pan if it looks a tad dry).
Before the flip.
You don’t need a complete crust on the outside. Just a good covering.
Once medallions are cooked and warmed through center, place on paper towel to soak up excess oil. Let stand 1 minute then place a top salads, drizzle with dressing and serve.
My berry of choice was blackberry.
Let me know if you like it/try it. And I’ll try and make a separate link in time for a printable version without pictures…just in case!