Cheese fondue is often a guilty pleasure, especially during the cold winter months when you are craving comfort foods - or want to woo your mate on Valentine's Day. However, this classic ooey gooey melted cheese dip doesn't have to be a high-fat treat. You can indulge guilt-free by making fondue with lower fat cheeses, beans and plenty of herbs and spices to amp up the flavor. For an extra nutritional boost, use fresh vegetables or cubes of whole-wheat bread as dippers. Here's your guide to making a luscious low-fat fondue.
Cooking tips for making low-fat fondue
Cooking tip #1: Use lower fat cheeses
The most important part of a good fondue is obviously the cheese. Regular fat cheeses contain about 9 grams of fat per ounce (much of it saturated) while lower fat cheeses have about 5 grams of fat per ounce. Because lower fat cheeses often have poor melting qualities, the best way to get a superlative — but lighter — fondue is by using a good low-fat cheese mixed with a regular fat cheese.
Cooking tip #2: Add texture with a bean puree
Another way to make a thick, rich fondue without adding more cheese is to add a white bean puree using great northern, cannellini or navy beans. The beans will add texture and extra protein.
Cooking tip #3: Flavor with wine
Adding wine, beer or another liquor will give the fondue another layer of taste without a lot of calories and will help balance out the other flavors.
Cooking tip #4: Season with herbs and spices
Herbs and spices like rosemary, thyme, sage, curry, chili powder and saffron will deepen the flavor of your fondue without adding fat or calories. If using fresh herbs, be sure to mince them so they don't interfere with the silky texture of the melted cheese.
Cooking tip #5: Fire it up
If you love pepper jack cheese or simply the fire from chilies, add pureed peppers, like roasted red bell peppers or poblanos or chipotle in adobo sauce. You can also add a few drops of hot sauce to taste.
Cooking tip #6: Keep it warm
The key to maintaining a mouthwateringly melted fondue is to keep it warm. Use a fondue pot or a slow-cooker to serve.
Cooking tip #7: Serve with a variety of dippers
For dipping, serve whole wheat or whole grain bread cut into bite-sized cubes as well as lightly steamed or raw fresh vegetables like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms.
Low-fat fondue recipes
Low-Fat Cheddar Fondue
Makes 12 servings Ingredients:
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, rinsed, drained
1 (12-ounce) bottle good dark beer
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste Directions:
1. Add beans and 1/4 cup beer to a food processor or blender and puree. 2. Pour bean mixture and remaining beer in a pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add cheese in sections, stirring to melt before adding more. 3. Mix in remaining ingredients and pour into a fondue pot or slow cooker. Serve with dippers of your choice.
Three Cheese Fondue
Makes 4 to 6 servings Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons fat-free or light sour cream
2-1/2 tablespoons Wondra quick-mixing flour
3/4 cup fat-free half-and-half
3/4 cup low-fat milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch ground nutmeg or cayenne red pepper
3/4 cup grated lite Jarlsberg or reduced-fat Swiss cheese
1/2 cup grated reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Directions:
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepot. Blend in sour cream and flour then whisk in half-and-half and milk and bring to a boil. 2. Lower heat to a simmer and stir in salt, pepper and nutmeg or cayenne. Continue stirring until sauce thickens. 3. Take pot off of heat and stir in cheeses in batches, mixing well until melted. Pour fondue into a fondue pot or slow cooker to serve.
White Wine Fondue
Makes 4 to 6 servings Ingredients:
2 cups grated low-fat Swiss cheese
2 cups Neufchatel cheese or reduced-fat cream cheese
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste Directions:
1. Add cheeses and cornstarch to a medium saucepot over medium heat and stir to melt. Add wine and continue to stir until mixture comes to a light simmer. 2. Mix in the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Pour into a fondue pot or a slow cooker. Serve with your choice of dippers.
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