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Mac and Cheese w/ lite cheddar?

I took my first stab at mac and cheese today - not out of a box. It was wonderful, and I was pleased that the taste did not seem compromised by my attempts to make it a bit more healthy. I used about 1/3 of the butter called for, and skim milk rather than whole or cream. But the 8oz block of cheddar that went in had just about 1000 calories in it...

Before you boo me from the boards with "live a little," "everything in moderation," and "heresy," has anyone tried to sub lite cheese in mac & cheese w/reasonable results?

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  1. Perhaps someone who's done it will post. I have not, but if I were considering it I would first grate a little pile of both lite and regular, mix in equal parts evaporated milk, and test how well it melts. Evaporated because it keeps cheese from clumping. Personally, I'd sooner omit the butter entirely, and retain the regular cheddar.

    1. If by "lite" you mean cheese made with part-skim milk, then by all means go for it. If by "lite" you mean one of the recent abominations that consists of carageenan, nonfat whey solids, and natural flavorings, then reduce the amount of cheese and/or cheese sauce in the recipe.

      I'm no shrinking violet when it comes to fatty foods, but IMHO most mac'n'cheese recipes have two to four times too much cheese in them. Before you start inserting imitation foods into your recipes, try using the real thing in reduced quantities.

      1. evaporated milk and/or pureed cottage cheese have been hits in my book to reduce the calorie burden with a lot of creaminess. Also using a very flavorful cheddar cheese helps, because you don't have to use as much.

        1. I've only found one "lite" cheese that I like even a little and that's L'Acentre's Frugal cheese(although I'm in Canada..) and it doesn't seem to hold up well to heat.

          I make mac 'n cheese for my kids fairly often. I'd suggest(like jsaimd said earlier) trying an older cheddar rather than "lite" and cutting the amount called for in half - and if that is still yields good results then try cutting back a bit more...dry mustard added to the sauce also makes it a bit more tangy.

          HTH - let us know how the next try goes :)

          1. Cabot makes two wonderful light cheddars. One is 50% and the other is 75%. Just remember, when you're removing fat, you need to replace it with some other flavour, or increase the spices/seasonings you're using already.

            I've made mac and cheese with the 50% and it was good. Not great, but I'd probably add more spice (maybe more mustard) to beef it up a bit.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Morganna

              I have made macaroni and cheese with light cheddar (Cabot's) and skim milk and it tastes great. I add hot sauce to taste to the white sauce.

              1. re: veggielover

                Cabot 50% reduced fat cheddar is real cheese. No weird ingredients, just less fat in the milk. It's good stuff.