New Uses for Everyday Ingredients

Pantry staples work wonders when used in new ways. Try these unexpected applications for everyday ingredients.

New Uses for Lower-Fat Cream Cheese
Photo: Randy Mayor

Lower-Fat Cream Cheese

Enrich baked pasta: Stir 1 to 2 tablespoons into every cup of a light béchamel sauce to replace some of the rich flavor and creaminess lost when the fat is slashed. We whisked 1/4 cup into the sauce for our Spinach and Butternut Squash Lasagna (pictured) with creamy-luscious results. And it only adds about 20 calories per serving.

Perk up potatoes: In place of sour cream or butter in your standard mashed potato recipe, use an equal amount of softened cream cheese. The flavor is less tart than sour cream, more present than butter, and the texture is full and velvety. Our favorite incarnation: The naturally buttery taste of Yukon gold potatoes pairs well with the tang of the cheese

Enliven a smoothie: Love a go-to fruit smoothie for breakfast? This variation feels like an indulgence (but really isn’t): a cheesecake–flavored drink. For each serving, add 1 tablespoon of softened 1/3-less-fat cream cheese to fruit mixture before blending (try it with blueberries or strawberries). You gain about 1 1/2 grams protein for only 35 calories.

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