Dr. Gourmet Says... Eat - Don't Eat

Dr. Gourmet Says... Eat - Don't Eat: September 4, 2007

Don't Eat

Regular Cream CheeseI get questions asking about cream cheese all the time. Most of these have to do with which of the many should be used and for what. Real cream cheese is made with milk that is about 35% butterfat. When all is said and done this works out to about 10 grams of fat in each ounce (about 2 tablespoons). It's about 2/3 saturated fat. That's about the same as other good quality cheese but, unlike a good parmesan, there is an alternative to regular cream cheese.


I don't use regular cream cheese very often because reduced-fat cream cheese is so darn good. Light cream cheese is the American version of the French Neufchtel (new-sha-tell). Like the French version, it is a semi-soft cheese but made with a lower fat cow's milk (about 23% butterfat instead of the 45% used in French Neufchtel).

Light Cream CheeseThis is terrific on bagels, and the flavor and texture is so similar to regular cream cheese you would never know. When you compare it to butter you're even better off. A tablespoon of butter has about 100 calories and 12 grams of fat while a tablespoon of low-fat cream cheese has only 35 calories and 2.6 grams of fat (1.6 grams saturated fat). Spread this one on your bagel or English muffin.

Definitely Don't Eat (sort of)

Fat-free cream cheese is pretty awful spread on a bagel. It's not much better spread on anything else, either, so it's best if you just don't try. Life is way too short to eat bad food, and this is bad food. That said, there is one catch. I do occasionally use the fat-free cream cheese in baking. It works pretty well when you use it half and half with the reduced-fat cream cheese. That's it, though. Best to pretty much just leave it in the refrigerator case.

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