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Are There Really Any Good Substitutes for Cheese?

Updated on January 17, 2017
CHEESE!
CHEESE! | Source

Make Better Choices in the Cheese Department

I've recently lost more than 20 pounds in less than three months, in part by more carefully watching my portions and also by making healthier, lower-fat choices. You know, the usual stuff.

One food item that's proven challenging to amend, however, is cheese.

I, for one, don't recommend eliminating it from your diet completely if you don't have to. But there are what I consider tasty substitutes for recipes and some real cheeses that are better than others when it comes to fat content and cholesterol.

Here are some suggestions for those who love their cheese but not always what's in it....

Use avacado or guacamole instead of cheese
Use avacado or guacamole instead of cheese | Source

Alternatives to Cheese

Some "Instead Of" Suggestions....

If you want to cut out cheese (the dairy kind anyway) or cut down on how often you use it, these are substitutes that work for me at least for some dishes.


Substituting Avocado for Cheese:

There are good fats and bad fats, as I'm sure you well know. Avocado, while pretty high in calories at 240 per cup, is low in saturated fat. Of the 22 grams of total fat in that same cup, just 3.2 are saturated, and 2.7 are polyunsaturated. That leaves 14.7 grams of monounsaturated fat. And I usually don't need to use a whole cup -- more like half that -- to satisfy.

Also on avocado's plus side is that it's cholesterol-free, very low in sodium, and low in sugar but high in dietary fiber and vitamin C. While avocado has a very different taste than cheese, I find it adds great flavor and that desired creamy texture to sandwiches, so I don't miss the cheese at all. I also like some avocado on salads and in wraps instead of cheese or mayo.

You can use slices of avocado, smash up plain avocado for a spread, or, if you like a bit more tang, make some guacamole with lime juice, diced onion, fresh cilantro, diced tomatoes and garlic.


Substituting Hummus for Cheese:

This is another creamy, flavorful spread that can take the place of cheese on sandwiches and in wraps, among other foods. Hummus is a Middle Eastern recipe made from cooked, mashed chickpeas, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. It's got about 27 calories per tablespoon with just 1.3 total grams of fat (1 gram of which is unsaturated).

Hummus is more versatile than you might think. Check out this recipe for Cheeseless Hummus Pizza.


Substituting Yogurt Cheese or Greek Yogurt:

Yogurt Cheese really isn't cheese at all. It's simply yogurt that's become thicker by draining the liquid whey through a cheesecloth or other strainer, so it takes on more of a cream cheese consistency. The longer it sits, the thicker it gets. You can put it in the refrigerator overnight to really thicken it up and then use it in place of cheese on sandwiches, in wraps, for making cheesecakes and other desserts, and in recipes such as raviolis for example. You can make yogurt cheese out of any type of plain yogurt or, for tangier, thicker yogurt cheese, use Greek Yogurt.

You can also use the plain yogurt or Greek yogurt straight out of the container as a spread if you like that consistency and flavor.

Some Help With Yogurt Cheese

If you like this alternative and want to use it in all sorts of ways, check out the Not Just Cheesecake: A Yogurt Cheese Cookbook with 250 recipes for everything from appetizers to desserts and all meals in between....

This simple gadget makes yogurt cheese-making easy...

Cuisipro Donvier Yogurt Cheese Maker
Cuisipro Donvier Yogurt Cheese Maker

This dishwasher safe plastic container and stainless-steel fine-mesh strainer converts 3 cups of yogurt into 1 cup of yogurt cheese in about 24 hours.

 
Cheese Substitutes
Cheese Substitutes | Source

Non-Dairy Recipes

Here are some dairy-free recipes for cheese including the types of regular cheeses they can replace in order to help you choose the right one.

The Basic Dairy-Free Cheese Round can be substituted for a variety of cheeses.

Want a cheese substitute that actually melts? Check out the Dairy-Free Cheese Sauce recipe or the Creamy, Mild Cheese Sauce that isn't really cheese, either (but tastes like it).

And take a look at this "Avo-Garlic-Lemon-Miso" spread idea from the Organic Granny as a sandwich filler instead of cheese. This one isn't supposed to mimic cheese at all, though.

The Best Vegan Cheese Alternative

I'm not a vegan or even a vegetarian, but some friends of mine who are vegans suggested this cheese substitute to me, saying it tastes very good and melts well, especially under the broiler and in the microwave. And they were right. I too recommend at least trying this alternative. It comes in a few different varieties and is....

  • Cholesterol free
  • Preservative free
  • Free of hormones and antibiotics

Have you tried any of these substitutes?

If so, let us know which you liked, which you didn’t, and which were just “meh” by leaving a message in the Guestbook below.

Cut Out the Cheese but not the Taste

A cheese-free cookbook with more than 100 five- and four-star reviews

This is a tenth-anniversary edition with revised versions of the original, cheesy-tasting but dairy-free recipes and many new ones.

The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook: Delicious Dairy-Free Cheeses and Classic "Uncheese" Dishes
The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook: Delicious Dairy-Free Cheeses and Classic "Uncheese" Dishes

This cookbook includes charts with dietary information, such as the calcium, protein, and other nutrients in a variety of plant foods to help you make substitutions for dairy in your diet. This new edition also indicates whether each recipe is gluten-free or contains soy, nuts, yeast, and/or corn for those who might have certain food allergies and sensitivies.

 

But if it's Real Cheese You Prefer....

Cheese Platter: Which ones to choose?
Cheese Platter: Which ones to choose? | Source

The Better Choices

Stay to the white....

Cheese doesn't always equate with being unhealthy or fattening. It can actually be an excellent source of lean protein as well as calcium and phosphorus, not to mention have other health benefits. That is, if you choose the right kinds.

While cheddar cheese is extremely popular, it's also one of the highest in fat and calories, at 120 calories and 10 grams of fat per ounce. And blue cheese has the same amount of calories and 12 grams of fat per ounce.

But not all cheeses are created equal. In general, the more orange the cheese, the higher the fat content. So consider topping things off or snacking on these instead....

Low Fat or Fat Free Ricotta:

This type of cheese is one of the lowest in fat at just five percent, and Italian ricotta is made from whey rather than from whole milk. Ricotta is a great for pasta dishes, such as Low Fat Spinach and Ricotta Pasta, and for desserts. Ricotta is also tasty on crackers, bagels and fruit.

Low Fat or Nonfat Cottage Cheese:

This is a very versatile and healthy type of cheese, with 3 grams of protein and only 20 calories for the low fat option. You can eat it straight from the container or pair it with fruit and cinnamon or vegetables, eat it on salads, and use it in many recipes -- such as Low Fat Peach Berry Dessert -- that call for soft cheese. Just watch the sodium content, which can be high, so look for low sodium options.

Goat Cheese:

In addition to other health benefits, goat cheese has just eighty calories and six grams of fat per ounce. Many cheeses made from cow's milk are higher in both fat and calories but still high in calcium. Those with lactose intolerance are often able to better tolerate goat cheese, which is great on salads and vegetables and a delicious and healthier substitute for mayonnaise on sandwiches.

Feta Cheese:

At 75 calories and four grams of protein per ounce, feta is lower in calories and fat than most other cheeses. It's also got a strong, somewhat salty flavor, so you don't need much of it to really add taste. Use it on salads instead of bleu cheese and on fruit. It's also really good sprinkled over soup or on sweet vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash. And if you don't want to eat cheese made with cow's milk, try Greek feta instead, which is made goat or sheep milk.

Part-Skim Mozzarella:

I especially like to get this in the form of string cheese, because it's already portioned out. A one-ounce serving of part-skim, 100% mozzarella has just 71 calories but 7 grams of protein.

Parmesan:

Like feta, Parmesan has a strong flavor, so you don't need much. It's not all that low in calories at 110 per one ounce, but even a light sprinkling adds taste. (One ounce of shredded Parmesan is roughly half a cup.) Parmesan is great sprinkled over pasta, salads, on baked chicken or a veggie-loaded pizza instead of other, heavier cheeses. It's good on apple slices, too. Parmegiano Reggiano is considered the highest quality Parmesan.

Low Fat or Low Sodium Swiss:

This is yet another strong cheese, so less is more here, too, which is why I'm including it as a better choice than some others. Swiss cheese is high in phosphorus, which is important to bone growth, and also high in vitamin B-12. A one-ounce slice is 106 calories with 8 grams of fat and 7.5 grams of protein. One slice is really enough, though, to add plenty of flavor to a sandwich.

Do a Side-by-Side Cheese Comparison ... and look at alternatives too.

TwoFoods Instant Food Comparison lets you easily compare the calories, carbs, fat and protein of two food items, with alternatives for each.

See this sample comparison between cheddar cheese and goat cheese.

Do You Substitute or Do Without? - Share your cheese philosophy and tips.

Do you go without cheese altogether?

I have to have my cheese. (But if you make certain choices, let us know.)

I have to have my cheese. (But if you make certain choices, let us know.)

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    • Ruthi 3 years ago

      I say "Cheese!" Oh my, cheese is THE most difficult food for me to eliminate from my diet and I do eat it in some form or flavor nearly every day. I am trying, of late, to eat mostly cottage cheese and feta for salads and such, but sure do have to have a brick of some kind of cheese at least once a week.

    • Meganhere 3 years ago

      I don't eat it a lot, but it's so goooooood.

    • Gregory Moore 4 years ago from Louisville, KY

      I think I eat cheese just about every day.

    • WordChipper 4 years ago

      I love cheese. Especially a nice creamy brie on a french baguette

    • Spiderlily321 4 years ago

      I do like cheese occasionally but I am trying to go completely without. I do really like the vegetarian substitutes that I've tried.

    • Rose Jones 4 years ago

      Girl, are you serious? :) I love cheese. But the "I recently lost 20 lbs in three months" caught my attention.

    • Kathryn Grace 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Oh yeah, I love my cheese. With even the most casual stop at the local grocers, I always add cheese to my basket, because we never, ever want to run out. Lately, though, I've been thinking I need to cut back, and I've been experimenting with avocado in place of cheese on salads and sandwiches. So glad to see that recommendation here!

      I don't know if I'd ever like a vegan substitute, but I may give the one you mention above a try.

      I have been making my own Greek-style yogurt and "cream cheese" from yogurt for years (I even have a lens about that), and they work very well as substitutes for the real thing, except for baking. I learned the hard way, I need real cream cheese in baked goods. I'm intrigued with your yogurt cheese cookbook recommendation, tho, so may give that a try too.

    • Elyn MacInnis 4 years ago from Shanghai, China

      Not if I can help it!

    • Carol 4 years ago from Arkansas

      No, I love cheese. But I do try to use low fat extra sharp and only use a little bit at a time.

    • Indigo Janson 4 years ago from UK

      I do like cheese. But cottage cheese and other low-fat options are good ideas.

    • jasminesphotogr 4 years ago

      Cheese, well dairy in general, tends to make me sick. If I can, I use raw cheese. It doesn't make me sick like processed cheeses do. It tastes better, too. :)

    • kathrynd7 4 years ago

      Cheese is the best! So many varieties that are so great and interesting! Cheese, please!

    • Chazz 4 years ago from New York

      I love cheese but try to stick with low fat and goat cheeses. Since I prefer stronger cheeses, a little does go a long way for flavoring, as you noted.

    • Terrie_Schultz 4 years ago

      I love all kinds of cheese! I eat it just about every day.

    • Joan4 4 years ago

      I don't go without cheese ever! But I do watch portions when I am dieting.

    • Kylyssa Shay 4 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      I try to stick with tiny sprinklings of Asiago, Romano, or Parmesan but I also indulge in goat cheeses from time to time. Every once in a while, I splurge and just have some cheese of whatever type I want.

    • aquarian_insight 4 years ago

      I love cheese, and although I don't eat it too often, I eat all kinds.

    • Deb Kingsbury 4 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I eat much less cheese than I used to, but, when I do, it's usually goat cheese, feta, or part-skim mozzarella for me. No more cheddar or Colby.

    • AlleyCatLane 4 years ago

      I love cheese, preferably melted. Fat free cheeses just don't taste as good nor do they melt well.

    No cheese for me, thanks. Instead, I use...

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      • anonymous 4 years ago

        MAYONAAISE is my taste

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        Do without!

      • Choosethislife 4 years ago

        I love nut cheese options-much better if you cannot get your hands on local grass fed cheese !

      • MelloKnitty LM 4 years ago

        I've never liked vegan "pretend cheese" - the only thing that satisfies my cheese cravings (and butter for that matter) is hummus! Hummus all the way, I practically live on it!

      • BrightDaysAhead 4 years ago

        I love your suggestions! I hardly ever eat real cheese anymore, even though it does taste delicious every now and then!

      • lclchors 4 years ago

        go without and I love cheese i mix avocado and greek yogurt together

      Cheese Substitute Recipe Videos

      Better Than Parmesan: How to make a healthy Parmesan substitute that tastes good too....

      Vegan Cheese -- A Creamy Alternative: A good substitute for cheddar cheese or cheese sauces....

      A Dairy-Free Recipe: Using nuts and seeds to make cheese? Interesting....

      © 2012 Deb Kingsbury

      Say Cheese! If you've tried any of these -- or any other -- cheese substitutes or alternatives, please let us know what you recommend ... and what you don't.

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          aquarian_insight 4 years ago

          Cheese is wonderful and I can't imagine cutting it out of my diet. Congratulations on the weight loss!

        • lclchors profile image

          lclchors 4 years ago

          I love almonds even more than cheese so this is on my list of todos now to get a good blender......

        • profile image

          AngryBaker 4 years ago

          I don't eat much cheese... but I don't know that I could give it up entirely..

        • gottaloveit2 profile image

          gottaloveit2 4 years ago

          You've got some good suggestions but, for my buck, I'll take real cheese please. I don't eat a hunk of the stuff and I think the low fat or fat free varieties are yucky.

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          I love cheese. Cheddar cheese, goat cheese, Brie, Camembert, cheese made from rice milk and soy milk... you name it! :-)

        • profile image

          gradientcat 4 years ago

          I'm allergic to dairy, so I don't eat much cheese.

        • buttonhead lm profile image

          buttonhead lm 4 years ago

          Avocado IS a really good cheese alternative-ish. Like you said, it doesn't have cheese flavor, but it does give you a creamy cheesy texture. I just love it! It's great on sandwiches that need a little something extra. :)

        • Mickie Gee profile image

          Mickie Goad 4 years ago

          You made me really think! I do love some cheese but I do not like the calories it can add to one's meals. I like the idea of using avocado and have a really good recipe for guacamole that I could substitute for mayo. Good job on this page.

        • LiteraryMind profile image

          Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

          So much information. Who knew you could make cheese from nuts. This is great information. Thanks.

        • bake-dawg profile image

          bake-dawg 4 years ago

          Nice try, but there's no substitute.

        • profile image

          BrightDaysAhead 4 years ago

          Thanks for posting this! Great ideas!

        • indigoj profile image

          Indigo Janson 4 years ago from UK

          Cheeeese! Thanks for sharing some great tips on substitutes for cheese. I like the low-fat options but have been disappointed in some dairy-free 'cheese' so it's good to think about other foods such as avocado that could make a tasty alternative. Congratulations on the weight loss. :)

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          Carol 4 years ago from Arkansas

          VERY nice lens-I enjoyed all the suggestions and will stop back by for some of the recipes. Thanks!

        • Elyn MacInnis profile image

          Elyn MacInnis 4 years ago from Shanghai, China

          Where I live, lots of people don't like cheese. (I live in Shanghai, China. ). But they love dofu (tofu), and have a million ways to make it, some of which taste like cheese, sort of. I like the rubbery texture of cheese and. It's saltiness. My favorite cheese? Muenster. Yum. This is a very interesting, thoughtfully done lens - thank you!

        • ecogranny profile image

          Kathryn Grace 4 years ago from San Francisco

          This lens came along just at the right time. I'm looking for ways to eat a little less cheese without losing flavor or enjoyment. Thank you.

        • TapIn2U profile image

          TapIn2U 4 years ago

          Great ideas! I love cheese and it's always included in my diet. Sundae ;-)

        • MelloKnitty LM profile image

          MelloKnitty LM 4 years ago

          Great lens! Apparently nutritional yeast flakes can be used to make a cheesy sauce (a la Mac and Cheese) but I've never got it to work...!

        • Gypzeerose profile image

          Rose Jones 4 years ago

          @MayaIxchel: Can I come visit you?

        • Ramkitten2000 profile image
          Author

          Deb Kingsbury 4 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

          @Gypzeerose: Anytime!

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