My kids love cream cheese, so I usually pick up a tub of light cream cheese for their almost-daily bagels. But I’ve noticed a new product sneak on to the shelves, right next to the silver-colored tubs and blocks of Philadelphia-brand cream cheese—a larger tub, with a bright yellow lid, offering the ultimate in convenience desserts: Philadelphia’s Ready-To-Eat Cheesecake Filling. Simply buy a ready-made 9-inch pie shell, pour in the filling, add some "Baker’s chocolate, fresh berries, or Oreo crumbles," as the package suggests, and there you have it, a super-quick, no-bake cheesecake.
Saturated Fat Nightmare
Cheesecake is hardly central to a low-fat diet, but a little indulgence from time to time may, paradoxically, keep you on the dietary straight and narrow. So is Philadelphia's Ready-To-Eat Cheesecake Filling a product you should consider for fulfilling those secret cheesecake urges? In short, no.
The fat content is staggering. Without the crust, one-eighth of the filling delivers 22 grams of total fat (42 percent of daily value), 13 grams of saturated fat (65 percent of daily value), one gram of trans fats, plus 85mg of cholesterol (28 percent of daily value).
Add in the crust, and those daily values increase to 42 percent for total fat, and 80 percent for saturated fat, with trans fats and cholesterol remaining the same. This assumes you use a regular Honey Maid graham cracker crust. If you happen to choose a Keebler crust, the fat content, including trans fats, is much higher. You can, of course, buy a reduced-fat graham crust, but given the fat content of the filling, you’re not going to save a whole lot of fat and calories overall. (more below)
Low Fat Taste at a High Fat Price
All this fat is crammed into a 370-calorie dessert (with crust). If you can eat your remaining daily 1200-1600 calories without consuming any more fat, then fine, but I think I’d rather use my treat calories eating a thin slice of New York cheesecake, or having a scoop of my favorite premium brand of ice cream. The taste and texture of the cheesecake filling doesn’t do justice to its fat content. At least with a slice of real cheesecake or a scoop of premium ice cream, you can understand why they’re so high in fat: they taste rich, dense and creamy. But this ready-to-eat cheesecake filling is too light and tastes artificially smooth—which is more characteristic of many low-fat products. There’s simply not enough body and taste to justify ingesting all those fat calories to satisfy a cheesecake craving.
What Does Kraft Say?
Finally, I took a look at Kraft’s Web site to find out more about the ready-to-eat cheesecake filling before buying it. A search brought up a list of the Philadelphia-brand cream cheese products
, most with their saturated-fat content listed. At the bottom of the list is the cheesecake filling, but without that crucial information. I wonder why?