Friday, May 8, 2009

Oops...I goofed on the low-fat cheese ingredient

In my last newsletter I included a recipe for Chicken Taco Rice which listed low-fat cheese as an ingredient. After the newsletter came out I received an e-mail from Ellyn Satter, the author of multiple books and creator of the model of division of responsibility in feeding for children. I attended an intensive workshop with Ellyn last fall and am fortunate to have received not only a great deal of education, but also encouragement from her.

Ellyn asked me why I listed low-fat, and not just regular, cheese as an ingredient in my recipe. To be honest, I hadn't really noticed. I copied and pasted the recipe from my files in my somewhat distracted efforts to get the newsletter ready before I became consumed with entertaining and hosting activities for my daughter's 1st Communion. But when it was brought to my attention, I realized that I almost never use low-fat cheese. I sometimes buy the Cabot brand of 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar. I think it tastes pretty good, but other reduced fat cheese reminds me of rubber. For me, taste is hugely important in guiding my choices for what I eat and what ingredients I include in recipes that I cook. So unless you enjoy the taste of rubbery cheese, I'd suggest you change the low-fat cheese to regular cheese.

In addition, Ellyn also provided me with some references for research showing that when people perceive foods to be "healthier" (e.g., "low-fat"), they actually eat more of it. People have been shown to ignore their own internal regulators of fullness and to eat larger quantities of food with low-fat labels regardless of the actual fat content of the food!

So what do you think? Do you use low-fat dairy products? How do you think labels affect your food choices and consumption?

1 comment:

  1. Great post–and a subject dear to my heart.

    I do NOT use low-fat ingredients. I use heavy cream, full-fat cheese and butter.

    And ever since my husband substituted 2% milk for heavy cream in a lovely Tomato Arborio Rice Soup recipe, I often specify full-fat ingredients when sharing recipes.

    A agree that people eat more when they think a food is low-fat or low-calorie. And in general, I think Americans just eat more.

    Factory farming has habituated us to abundant, abnormally low-priced foods and we've adjusted our bellies to super-sized portions.

    So, I think we need to adjust back down to moderate portioning.

    That said, 1/2 cup cream divided by four servings (Say, for my soup) yields 100 calories--not an extravagant per-serving amount when you factor in the recipe's other relatively low-calorie ingredients.


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