7 places you should to say no to cheese
We love cheese as much as the rest of you but think twice before you add it to your food.
There are some times when all those extra calories just aren't worth it - often because you're already consuming more than enough saturated fat and salt, or because you've got a dish that works pretty well without added cheese. Here are the worst offenders:
1. Cheesy chips
These are wrong on so many levels. Firstly, fried chips are a high fat food
already. Secondly, when you order cheesy chips, usually the cheese used is a tasteless, plasticky variety. And thirdly, blanket of this stuff on your chips is mainly likely to make them soggy. And no-one likes soggy chips.
2. Cheese burger
Meat in a bun is delicious enough without the addition of extras such as cheese, or bacon. A 20g processed cheese slice adds an extra 60 calories and 4.6g grams of fat, of which 2.9g is saturated fat. For a more gourmet option, you might be tempted to add a matchbox-sized piece (30g) of a hard cheese such as Cheddar, Stilton or Double Gloucester to your burger. But think twice, as this would add typically add an extra 125 calories and 10.5g of fat (6.5g saturated fat). Adding bacon too, or side orders such as chips, onion rings or coleslaw will raise the fat content even more.
A good quality burger shouldn't need any embellishments apart from some sliced tomato and maybe some sliced onion or a couple of lettuce leaves. A burger that you make yourself with lean meat is a healthier alternative to a fast-food version.
3. Deep fried cheese
This is the savoury equivalent of the deep fried Mars bar. Whether it’s deep fried Camembert in a posh restaurant, breaded mozzarella or cheese dippers in a fast food outlet, nutritionally it amounts to much the same thing. Having your cheese in a salad would provide more nutrients with less fat. Or if it's the contrast of melted goo with crunchy exterior you're looking for, have melted cheese on some wholemeal toast, which if not healthy, is a healthier option.
4. Stuffed crust pizza
Your pizza is already covered in cheese, so you don’t need extra stuffed into its crust. If you’re wondering whether this is an improvement, note that you won’t find stuffed-crust pizza anywhere in Italy.
Make your own pizza, then you can make sure the toppings go right to the edge if you want to avoid boring crusts, and you can control how much cheese is added (and consider using a reduced-fat version).
5. Ham and cheese sandwich
You've probably gathered by now that cheese is high in fat and salt. So is ham, so try and restrict yourself to one of these in a sandwich. For more flavour add some decent tomatoes, or mustard, or both. Or buy a more flavoursome ham or cheese (this might cost a little more, but if you are using one filling instead of two, the cost should balance out). Better still, make our chicken and egg wrap instead.
6. Cheesy garlic bread
Many pizza restaurants will try to persuade you to “upgrade” your garlic bread with cheese. Bear in mind that most garlic bread you buy is full of butter, so high in saturated fat (and probably salt) already. Skip the garlic bread completely and order an undressed green salad with your meal instead. Typically, you’ll save 197 calories and 9.7 grams of fat, of which 3.2g is saturated fat. If it’s garlic bread you yearn for, make your own with plenty of finely chopped garlic, parsley and unsaturated spread instead of butter. It won’t cut calories but the type of fat will be healthier for your heart.
7. Cheesy mash
Mashed potatoes can go from saintly to downright sinful once you start adding cream, butter or cheese. Mash your potatoes with just a little milk to save excess calories and fat. If you want to add flavour, try black pepper and finely chopped rosemary, or freshly grated nutmeg, or your favourite mustard. Or as a change from simple mash, try mashed sweet potato, or mix potato with another root vegetable such as carrots, swede, turnip or parsnip. This will help your 5-a-day intake too.