Lisa Lillien is the author of the popular Hungry Girl website and email newsletter, featuring smart, funny advice on guilt-free eating. She is also the author of twelve books, six of which debuted at number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Read her PEOPLE.com blog every Monday for slimmed-down celebrity recipes and more.
Cheese is delicious and while some are high in calories, there are ways to get your fix without overdoing it. I’ve tried a bunch, and these are some of my favorites:
Say yes to cheesy popcorn! Skinny Pop has several cheese-flavored varieties, but this one is my favorite. The cheddar flavor is right on, and it doesn’t stain your fingers orange like some competitors. And you can eat about 3 cups for just 140 calories. Hooray for high-volume snacks!
Snikiddy’s beloved puffs are now certified organic! They come in Mac n’ Cheese and Grilled Cheese flavors; both are a little mild and a lot delicious. Enjoy a 1-oz. serving (about 1 to 2 cups) for just 140 to 150 calories, or find them in .75-oz. mini bags. They’re not just for kids, people!
Sometimes there’s no substitute for real cheese, and when you want real cheese, Sargento is always a solid choice. These mini cheese sticks allow you to easily customize your snack size: Each piece has under 20 calories, and a full 7-piece serving has 110 to 120 calories. Try the Smokehouse Gouda, Garden Vegetable Jack, Colby-Pepper Jack, and Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar.
I’m crazy about the smooth tanginess that cream cheese adds to recipes, and I’m nuts for snacks with cream cheese flavor. These crisps are a middle ground between crackers and chips, and while all the varieties are amazing, this flavor is the hands-down favorite at Hungryland. (Pro tip: If you’re having trouble tracking them down in stores, check Amazon.) Eat 21 pieces for just 130 calories.
Good flavor is wildly important, and smart nutritional stats mean a lot but a cute design is still a bonus! I love that these crackers look like holey cheese slices. The crunchy snacks come in Mild Cheddar, Smoked Gouda, and Swiss & Black Pepper. About 28 crackers for 120 to 130 calories!
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More real cheese! Check this out: You get three balls of fresh mozzarella in a convenient, 70-calorie snack. Um, yes, please! This is the perfect sidekick for some fresh fruit; your afternoon snack will feel so classy. Find them stocked with the fancy cheeses at your local grocery store.
If you keep a box or two of dried mac ‘n cheese mix in your pantry just in case, you’re gonna want to upgrade. This savory oat mix is kind of miraculous; it tastes like macaroni & cheese crossed with risotto and has the nutritional benefits of oatmeal. (Hello, fiber.) How great is that?! Stock up ASAP. (It’s in select stores, but readily available on Amazon.) I love this with some steamed broccoli and cooked chicken for a complete meal!
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Finally, this is one of the best non-dairy cheeses I’ve tried in a while. Daiya’s slices are ideal for melting, and I flipped when I tasted this delicious American cheese swap. If you’re vegan (or just cutting down on dairy), gooey grilled cheese is back on the menu.
‘Til next time… Chew the right thing!