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Food Science and Nutrition Alumni

Partial Fat-Free Cheese Substitution is Acceptable in Macaroni and Cheese

by Jolene Safford and Sarah Hoekstra

Jolene Safford and Sarah Hoekstra

This study investigated the effects of Smart Beat?(Heart Beat Foods, Cresskill, NJ) a fat-free and cholesterol-free cheese as a replacement for cheese containing typical amounts of fat in a macaroni and cheese recipe. 

Three variations were tested: 1) a control prepared with 2% Kraft (Kraft Foods Inc., Glenview, IL) processed cheese; 2) a reduced-fat variation prepared with equal amounts of 2% Kraft? processed cheese and Smart Beat?; 3) a low-fat version prepared with Smart Beat? fat-free cheese. 

Twenty untrained panelists evaluated the macaroni and cheese samples for overall preference, visual preference, cheese flavor, aftertaste intensity, and sauce thickness.  A universal texture analyzer (TA.TX2) (Texture Technologies, Scarsdale, NY) was used to measure viscosity (1 diameter AOAC probe, peak force down) and tackiness (1 diameter AOAC probe, peak force up).  Panelists indicated no preference difference between the control and reduced-fat samples, but preferred them over the low-fat version.  No significant difference existed for visual preference, cheese flavor, aftertaste intensity, and sauce thickness. 

Objective tests revealed the low-fat sample was more viscous and tacky than both the control and reduced-fat samples at temperatures of 110°F and 80°F.  The fat-free cheese was found to be an acceptable cheese substitution in a basic macaroni and cheese recipe when only half of the 2% cheese was replaced.  Complete fat-free cheese substitution was not acceptable.  Fat-free cheese can be used as a healthy alternative for reducing the fat, saturated

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