In the U.S. you will often find the Neufchatel cheese just next to the low and reduced fat cream cheese options in the grocery isle, but many people do not know quite what to do with it. The original Neufchatel was a French invention dating back to the 6th century. Originally it was an unpretentious unripened cheese made from cow's or goat's milk, and it also goes by the simple name of "farmer's cheese."
From Legend to Larder
Legend has it that our version of Neufchatel had its origins in the experiments of an early American cheese maker looking to replicate the traditional French version. This resulted in a spreadable cheese that is quite different from the original rind-bound product, but nearly indistinguishable from American-style cream cheeses--excepting the fact that it has about a third of the fat content due to a lower cream content. This same reduced-fat quality makes it perfect for providing a lower-calorie substitute for everything from bagel spreads to reduced-calorie cheesecakes and specialty dips.
Better Bagels and Bonus Berries
Most people seem to find that Neufchatel is virtually interchangeable with its full-cream counterpart, making it a perfect easy substitute for a lower-fat breakfast fix. If you do feel the need to add a little more flair, consider making your own homemade bagel schmears by mixing in seasonal chopped fruits like strawberry, cherry, or raspberry. Smoked salmon and fresh dill makes an excellent spread for those who prefer something savory--particularly when topped with fresh-sliced tomato, capers, and onion.
Rich Dips Without the Extra Fat
Nothing makes raw and crunchy veggies go down more quickly than a well-seasoned cream-based dip. Replacing cream cheese with reduced fat Neufchatel is a great way to reduce the overall calorie count of this simple side without compromising on the rich flavor and smooth texture of your favorite condiment accompaniments and entertainment mainstays. Fresh basil and artichoke, roasted chipotle peppers and tomato, and the irresistible combination of seafood, spinach, lemon, and dill all make for amazing centerpiece spreads that are sure to surprise.
A Lighter Alfredo
Garlic, basil, parmesan, olive oil and cream cheese combine beautifully to create the perfect pasta sauce for fettuccini, linguini, and even homemade macaroni and cheese. You can easily reduce this high-fat favorite by replacing heavy cream cheese with Neufchatel. You might also consider replacing the parmesan with an extra light sharp cheddar that will provide all of the punch and less of the full-fat.
Every Calorie Counts: Reduced Fat Cream Cheese Desserts
Who can resist the siren call of a sweet dessert treat? Neufchatel cheese offers a simple substitute for heavy cream cheese frostings that can help to reduce your fat intake while preserving the smooth sweetness of that perfect baked treat--whether it's cheese cake or a sumptuous cream cheese frosting for cakes, cookies, or cupcakes.
Making Your Next Cheese Choice
Whether you are looking for a low-fat replacement for your daily bagel topping, the perfect condiment fix for your favorite dip, or something to cut the calories in that delectable dessert recipe, Neufchatel cheese can help you to cut calories while keeping your taste buds absolutely content.