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We're not just talking about posing for a picture. We're talking about the versatile (and tasty) sliced, grated, and melted ingredient we adore. Despite its bad rap, cheese can be nutritious! It fuels your body with protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, and phosphorus.
A 1.5 ounce piece of hard cheddar cheese (the size of four stacked dice) contains more than 30% of your daily value of calcium, and only 171 calories.
These 43 low-fat cheese recipes, from breakfast to main dish to dessert, will make you "say cheese" more often!
Baked Two-Cheese Penne with Roasted Pepper Sauce
Keep your comfort foods with this twist on the traditional macaroni and cheeseand with fewer calories! This family-friendly meal provides calcium and half your daily requirement of protein.
Try this recipe: Baked Two-Cheese Penne with Roasted Pepper Sauce
Cheese and Olive-Stuffed Tomatoes
Fresh herbs, olives, and feta cheese adorn these stuffed and broiled tomatoes. Cut the saturated fat by using fat-free feta cheese. This dish works as a small lunch or a side.
Try this recipe: Cheese and Olive-Stuffed Tomatoes
Chicken Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Garlic
The Cordon Blue just got a makeover! Goat cheese, with its soft, mild texture and flavor, mixed with the spice of garlic, compliments the chicken breastand for less than 503 calories per serving.
Try this recipe: Chicken Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Garlic
This Italian comfort food gets a health makeover, with low-fat and reduced-fat cheese. Each serving is less than 300 calories and provides nearly half your daily value of protein.
If you're feeling frisky, add a cup of spinach for a great source of iron and folate.
Try this recipe: Turkey Lasagna
Pizza doesn't have to be unhealthy! Cheese is filled with calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones. Using turkey pepperoni lowers the saturated fat in the recipe, but still acts as a good source of protein.
Mix up this classic pepperoni pizza recipe with sautéed mushrooms to add earthy flavor.
If you’re looking for a veggie-friendly pizza, try this Spicy Margharita Pizza.
Try this recipe: Pepperoni Pizza
Garden Vegetable Crustless Quiche
A quiche is like the omelet's fancier cousin, especially when packed with a handful of vegetables and three varieties of cheese. This vegetarian dish is also loaded with vitamin C and E, fiber, calcium, and antioxidants.
It is a crowd-pleasing and healthy meal (only 230 calories) that can be assembled the night before and refrigerated.
Related: 43 Vegetarian Recipes We Love
Try this recipe: Garden Vegetable Crustless Quiche
Arugula Pesto, Ricotta, and Smoked Mozzarella Pizza
Smoked mozzarella makes for a new take on the traditional pie. The arugula pesto adds a peppery bite and is loaded with fiber, vitamins A, C and K, and other nutrients, including potassium.
For more arugula recipes, try this arugula soup.
Try this recipe: Arugula Pesto, Ricotta, and Smoked Mozzarella Pizza
Zucchini Eggplant Lasagna
Who wouldn't want layers of cheese, fresh produce, cheese, pasta, and did we say cheese?
This vegetarian-friendly lasagna features vitamin C-packed tomatoes and fiber-rich eggplant, swimming in part-skim ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.
Try this recipe: Zucchini Eggplant Lasagna
Three Cheese and Sage Ravioli
Try this lighter version of a typically rich-and-heavy Italian classic. With triple the cheese, you get triple the amount of calcium (40% of your daily value of calcium), plus nearly half the daily recommendation of protein.
Sage adds a sweet, yet savory flavor and is a source for vitamin K.
Try this recipe: Three Cheese and Sage Ravioli
Green Vegetable Risotto
Sharp Parmesan cheese adds some zing to this mixed greens and risotto dish. Receive nearly half your recommended daily intake of protein, plus added vitamins from spinach.
Make it vegan by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
Try this recipe: Green Vegetable Risotto
Grilled Shrimp Pizza
Skewered shrimp adds a barbecue bite to this low-fat pizza recipe. Two slices (only 458 calories) provides more than half your daily recommendation of protein.
Added to pizza, shrimp is a great way to increase nutrient intake to a popular comfort food.
Related: 17 Healthy Seafood Recipes
Try this recipe: Grilled Shrimp Pizza
Red Pepper, Goat Cheese, and Fresh Mint Wraps
Easy, portable wraps (like this five-ingredient recipe) are good for snacks or work lunches. They're nutritious too: Red bell peppers are loaded with more vitamin C than an orange; goat cheese provides calcium; and you'll get 10 grams of filling protein.
Try this recipe: Red Pepper, Goat Cheese, and Fresh Mint Wraps
Canadian Bacon-and-Cheese Quesadillas with Arugula Salad
A popular Mexican recipe gets an interesting twist with Canadian bacon. This quesadilla packs half your daily recommendation for calcium and protein.
For healthier options, choose turkey bacon and low-fat cheese to cut back on saturated fat. Use whole-wheat tortillas instead of flour tortillas for added fiber.
Related: Sweet Potato and Spinach Quesadillas
Try this recipe: Canadian Bacon-and-Cheese Quesadillas with Arugula Salad
Photo: Getty Images
Panini with Sauteed Mushrooms and Gruyere
This pressed and grilled sandwich combines creamy Gruyere with sautéed mushrooms, spinach, and red bell peppers. Mushrooms act as the meaty texture to the panini and provide potassium and iron.
Enjoy the whole sandwich for just over 400 calories and 30% of your daily value of calcium.
Try this recipe: Panini with Sauteed Mushrooms and Gruyere
Photo: Getty Images
Calzones Two Ways
Pizza's distant relative, the calzone, gets a health makeover using part-skim ricotta and part-skim mozzarella cheeses. Choose between a vegetarian calzone with broccoli and cheese, or a turkey pepperoni and cheese version.
Try this recipe: Calzones Two Ways
Bacon isn't just for breakfast. This recipe can act as a hearty dinner entrée that will keep you full for only 298 calories per serving. Add green leafy vegetables, such as spinach or kale for added fiber, iron, and vitamins.
Try this recipe: Cheese-Bacon Tart
Italian Potato Torta
A wholesome combination of potatoes, tomatoes, and low-fat cheese makes this tortaItalian for tart, cake, or piea great vegetarian entrée that's packed with vitamins.
Serve with a mixed green salad and balsamic vinaigrette dressing for a complete Italian meal.
Related: 26 Reasons to Love Potatoes
Try this recipe: Italian Potato Torta
Warm Eggplant and Goat Cheese Sandwiches
Eggplant does a whole lot more than add color to your plateit contains plenty of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting antioxidants. Creamy goat cheese adds protein and calcium, and is lower in fat and calories than cheese made from cow’s milk.
Try a multigrain roll for a fiber boost.
Related: 11 Easy Eggplant Recipes
Try this recipe: Warm Eggplant and Goat Cheese Sandwiches
Blue Cheese Veal Chops
Forget your usual marinate. Slather this blue cheese spread over veal chops before cooking for a tangy (and satisfying) bite.
Each serving packs 25 grams of protein, half your daily recommendation of protein. Pair with whole-grain rice for heart-healthy fiber.
Try this recipe: Blue Cheese Veal Chops
Swiss cheese is on the list of lower fat cheeses so these enchiladas are a really healthy twist on a Mexican classic.
Go a step further by choosing fat-free milk. For extra fiber, trade flour tortillas for whole-wheat tortillas, or add a healthy portion of spinach for iron and vitamins.
Related: Chicken Enchiladas
Try this recipe: Swiss Enchiladas
Artichoke, Goat Cheese, and Potato Omelet
This wholesome omelet is quick to make and will keep you full all morning. Artichokes are rich in vitamin K and are a good source of dietary fiber. This meatless omelet has 20 grams of protein, nearly half of your daily recommendation.
Try this recipe: Artichoke, Goat Cheese, and Potato Omelet
Spicy Chicken with Poblano Peppers and Cheese
Get a cup of milk ready for this dishyour mouth is sure to be on fire. But, it's all worth it for a taste of blended chicken, reduced-fat cheddar cheese, poblano peppers, and spices.
This recipe calls for a medley of various vegetables, each boasting their own nutritional value. Eat up and get your fill of vitamin C, fiber, and whole grains.
Try this recipe: Spicy Chicken with Poblano Peppers and Cheese
Pasta with Peas, Ham, and Parmesan Cheese
Ditch the tomato sauce and swap in this cheesy sauce with Parmesan and light sour cream. Lean ham slices and peas are packed with protein (just over half your daily value of protein).
Related: 5 Delicious Pasta Dinners
Try this recipe: Pasta with Peas, Ham, and Parmesan Cheese
Prosciutto, Pear, and Blue Cheese Sushi
If you don't like seafood but have always wanted to try sushi, here's your chance! Each roll (one serving) is packed with the sweet and salty flavorings of pine nuts, pears, and blue cheese.
Related: 5-Minute Sushi
Try this recipe: Prosciutto, Pear, and Blue Cheese Sushi
Grilled Pimento Cheese
Pimento, a popular Southern comfort food, is traditionally made from a mixture of cheese, mayo, and sweet pimento peppers.
This recipe swaps in red bell peppers, providing vitamin C, and uses reduced-fat cheddar cheese and mayo. Use whole-grain bread for extra fiber.
Try this recipe: Grilled Pimento Cheese
Savory Two-Cheese Biscotti
Biscotti's aren’t just for dipping in your morning cup of joe. Savory versions, like this two-cheese biscotti, can be dipped in stews, soups, or chili.
Enjoy two of these savory Biscotti's, made with cheddar cheese and Parmesan, for less than 200 calories.
Dip your biscotti into one of these soup recipes.
Try this recipe: Savory Two-Cheese Biscotti
French Onion Soup
Warm your taste buds with this rich-tasting French onion soup. Don’t look back on the spoonfuls; you’re getting 1/3 the amount of calcium needed in a day, and with less than 300 calories per bowl!
Try this recipe: French Onion Soup
Garlicky Spinach Dip with Hearts of Palm
Build strong bones like Popeye with this garlicky spinach dip, featuring five varieties of cheeses and a healthy portion of spinach and hearts of palm. Pair with whole-grain chips or pita wedges for added fiber.
Related: Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Try this recipe: Garlicky Spinach Dip with Hearts of Palm
Mozzarella and Nectarine Skewers with Pesto
This delicious recipe is easy to pop in your mouth while chatting with friends at a party, is less than 215 calories for two skewers. Nectarines are refreshing and provide vitamin C and antioxidants. A bonus? It’s low carb.
Related: Marinated Feta and Olive Skewers
Try this recipe: Mozzarella and Nectarine Skewers with Pesto
Red Pepper-Cheese Dip
This low-sodium, low-fat dip gets a slightly spicy bite from vitamin-C packed red bell peppers. It's great with whole-grain crackers, pita wedges, or chopped veggies, and even works as a sandwich spread.
If you happen to lick the bowl clean, don't feel guiltythere’s 20 calories per serving and a mere 320 calories for the entire dip.
Try this recipe: Red Pepper-Cheese Dip
Photo: Getty Images
Bean, Bacon, and Blue Cheese
This dip is a manly twist on hummus. Your hubby won’t even know it’s low in cholesterol and calories (71 calories per serving).
Serve as a low-carb snack or appetizer with pita wedges or celery sticks at your next sports get-together.
Related: The Best Super Bowl Chips and Dips
Try this recipe: Bean, Bacon, and Blue Cheese
Parmesan and Herb Cheese Straws
Compliment a dip or salad with these cheesy, crunchy straws. Pungent, low-fat Parmesan pairs well with fresh herbs, such as thyme and parsley.
Snack on two cheese straws for just over 100 calories.
Related: Decadent Dip Recipes
Try this recipe: Parmesan and Herb Cheese Straws
Blue Cheese-Stuffed Dates
Sharp, salty flavors of blue cheese compliments the natural sweetener in dates. Pecans are good sources of dietary fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
Try this recipe: Blue Cheese-Stuffed Dates
Baked Brie with Cran-Apple Chutney
Creamy, warm Brie cheese and cran-apple chutney satisfies both a savory and sweet tooth. With only 57 calories per serving (one slice of bread and topping), it's easy to snack guilt-free.
Throw in some chopped walnuts for added protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
Related: More appetizers
Try this recipe: Baked Brie with Cran-Apple Chutney
Mozzarella and Tomato Salad
This classic, simple salad is a refreshing dish year round and can be served as a side or main entrée for only 275 calories per serving.
Consider sprucing it up with greens, such as arugula or mache, for added vitamins and fiber.
Try this recipe: Mozzarella and Tomato Salad
Pecan-Crusted Goat Cheese Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Snack on this low carb, low cholesterol endive salad with cubes of polenta (cornmeal) and gooey goat cheese that's coated with a walnut crunch. The meal is rich in monounsaturated fats and fiber.
Try this recipe: Pecan-Crusted Goat Cheese Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Classic Apple and Blue Cheese Salad
This salad is light enough to act as a side dish (54 calories) but well-rounded enough to act as a full meal (110 calories for a plateful).
Add diced, grilled chicken for extra protein. Walnuts and extra-virgin olive oil give you double the dose of heart disease fighting omega-3 fatty acids.
Related: 8 Salads That Satifsy
Try this recipe: Classic Apple and Blue Cheese Salad
Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake
It's time to take cheesecake off your naughty list. This recipe provides nearly 1/3 of your daily value of calcium in one slice and has half the calories than a slice from The Cheesecake Factory. Decorative raspberry swirls provide vitamin C and antioxidants.
Try this recipe: Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake
Photo: Getty Images
Sweet Crisps with Ricotta and Berries
Take a satisfying crunch into these sweet and creamy crisps. Raspberries add a tangy, sweet flavor and are rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
For an even healthier version of this recipe, use low-fat ricotta cheese.
Try this recipe: Sweet Crisps with Ricotta and Berries
Chocolate Ricotta Muffins
You'll love these – they taste like dessert without all the fat and calories! These fluffy chocolate ricotta muffins are easy to make and are portable.
Trade semi-sweet chocolate chips for dark chocolate to add extra antioxidants.
Related: Healthy muffin recipes
Try this recipe: Chocolate Ricotta Muffins
One bite of this pineapple and ricotta Napoleon and you’ll be channeled to the closest beach. Good as a breakfast treat or dessert, this pastry features tangy pineapple, which is rich in dietary fiber, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.
Related: Chili-Dusted Mango and Pineapple
Try this recipe: Pineapple-and-Ricotta-Stuffed Napoleon