If you’re like me, you absolutely LOVE a cheese ball. What’s not to love? It’s a GIANT BALL OF CHEESE! It may come as no surprise that cheese balls are a high-calorie affair, so I came up with a lighter version.
This would be a perfect addition to your upcoming Super Bowl festivities. Who wouldn’t to nibble on a cheese ball while rooting for the So-and-sos as they take on the Whats-their-names. (Can you tell I’m not a football fan? In fact, I’ll be spending Super Bowl Sunday at a theme park, because hopefully the lines will be SHORT!)
This lighter version of a cheese ball is packed with flavor. And while it still might not qualify as health food and probably shouldn’t be part of your everyday diet, it’s a better-for-you alternative that makes a popular party food way more reasonable… while still being incredibly tasty too.
The key swap is the cream cheese. Instead of using regular cream cheese, I used two 8-ounce packages of a cream cheese and Greek yogurt blend. This stuff tastes the same, and has one-third less calories, two-thirds less fat, and twice the protein. Three great reasons right there to dive in!
I also used one 8-ounce package regular cream cheese with garden vegetables, simply because I wanted the flavor from the veggies in the cheese ball.
Leave all three packages out on the counter, until the cream cheese is room temperature. It makes it so much easier to work with. I used all three packages (24 ounces of cream cheese), but I was making two cheese balls: a big one for a party I went to, and a smaller one for a much smaller get-together. You can easily cut this recipe is half, or what the hell, you could double for a mega-enormous cheese ball!
Put the room temperature cream cheese in a mixing bowl, and add 3 tablespoons dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash (or your favorite salt-free spice blend). Mix it all together. Cream cheese is thick, even at room temperature, so this will take a little elbow grease. (I love a recipe that’s also a workout!)
Once those ingredients are all incorporated, add 2 tablespoons fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley and 1 bunch of green onions, sliced (white and light green parts only), and fold them in gently.
[Insert mental picture, because I forgot to photograph this step.]
Don’t add the parsley and green onions when you add the mustard and spices, because they’ll get pulverized from all the mixing.
I made two cheese balls, so I laid out 2 sheets of cling wrap, and divided the mixture between them.
Then I wrapped the cling wrap around them, and shaped them into balls. Mine ended up being roughly the size of a softball and a tennis ball.
Pop them in the fridge to harden, for about an hour. While they’re firming up, you can prep the outer coating. I chopped an entire bunch of flat-leaf parsley (minus the two tablespoons I already added into the mixture) and put it in one bowl, and dumped two ounces of sliced almonds and 2 ounces of crushed, shelled pistachios in another.
Here’s a neat trick: I crushed the pistachios myself. I bought a 2-ounce bag, and used a hammer to lightly tap them until they crumbled, without opening the bag. The bag helped prevent a big mess. Worked like a charm!
After an hour in the fridge, I unwrapped the cheese balls. First I decorated the little one. I rolled it in the parsley first, but then, because it was covered in parsley, the nuts wouldn’t stick when I rolled it in the nuts. So I ended shoving the almonds in so it looked like a stegosaurus, and then poured pistachio pieces in between the almonds.
For the larger cheese ball, I mixed the parsley and nuts together, and rolled it once in all three. That worked much better.
You can, by the way, use other things to coat the cheese ball, like walnuts or pecans, other fresh herbs like rosemary or dill, or even raisins or crushed pretzels.
The cheese ball was a hit. Of course it was! It’s creamy and satisfying, and the parsley and green onions make it taste super fresh (maybe even super bowl fresh!), with the nuts providing a bit of crunch.
This recipe works out to be 45 calories per tablespoon, with about 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, and 3 grams of carbs. Again – not the healthiest option on the planet, but then again, it’s significantly less calories than some of the other cheese ball recipes online – close to 50% less. You can amp up the healthy factor by forgoing the crackers and chips and eating it with vegetables.
I love finding ways to make snack foods better for your waistline, without sacrificing taste!
Keep it up, David!
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