Helping families eat healthier for less

Helping families eat healthier for less

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Recipe Redux: Mexican Cheese Ball (with Beans)

The theme for Recipe ReDux this month is "Putting the P(ea) in Potluck.."  Because December is full of holiday parties and family gatherings, Recipe Redux requested party-friendly recipes that can feed a crowd that use peas, beans or lentils in festive dish. So, I decided I wanted to do something other than hummus, a favorite of mine, but fairly typical. I wanted to see if I could develop a recipe for a simple cheese ball that incorporated cooked beans.
Typically, cheese balls aren’t high on the list of healthy offerings at a buffet or party table. They often start with cream cheese and mayonnaise and are then rolled in nuts.  A “typical” cheese ball recipe can provide as much as 275 calories, 22 grams of total fat and 10 grams of saturated fat per 1/4-cup serving. I wanted to make a healthier version, naturally. So, I started with Neufchatel cream cheese with 1/3 less fat than regular cream cheese and added cooked pinto beans and Monterey Jack Cheese.
I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of adding cooked pinto beans to softened Neufchatel cream cheese in the food processor. I add some shredded Monterey jack cheese with the jalapeno peppers already in the cheese to give it more flavor and a little spice. You end up with a healthier cheese ball with a hint of pintos. The recipe uses few ingredients and goes together in minutes. It does need to be refrigerated for several hours so the cheese can get firm.

Mexican Cheese Ball uses pinto beans

Here is the complete recipe:

Mexican Cheese Ball
1 cup cooked pinto beans (from scratch or from can, rinsed)
8 oz neufchatel (1/3 less fat) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup (4 oz) shredded Monterey jack cheese with jalapeno peppers
1 cup finely chopped cilantro

Process beans, cream cheese and Monterey jack cheese together in food processor until smooth, about 20 seconds, scraping sides if needed. Transfer cheese mixture to center of a large sheet of plastic wrap. Bring 4 corners of wrap together and twist to form ball. Place ball in bowl to help hold its shape and refrigerate until firm for several hours or overnight. When ready to serve, roll ball in chopped cilantro and place on serving tray. Serve with whole wheat crackers (such as Triscuits) and top with a teaspoon of chunky salsa, if desired.
Makes 16 servings (about 3 tablespoons each).

Nutrition Information per 3-Tablespoon Serving:
72 calories, 4 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 14 mg cholesterol, 1 g dietary fiber, 4 g protein, and 115 mg sodium.

Cost per Serving: $0.22 (plus the cost of crackers and salsa)
Pricing Note: all ingredients were at “regular” prices except Neufchatel cheese was on sale for $1.50, jack cheese on sale for $2.00 for 8 oz., and cilantro on sale for $0.50 a bunch.

Click here to download and print a copy of this Mexican Cheese Ball recipe.
Be sure to check out these other Recipe ReDux Bloggers:

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