Posted by: thehungryrunner | July 1, 2011

Fat-free Cream Cheese: Curiously, the WD-40 (or is it Duct Tape?) of my pantry

I love lists.  To-do lists, project lists, itineraries… everything-in-its-place mind somehow feels much more empowered when I’m armed with my own hand-scribbled instructions than when I’m just “winging it.”

And no other list trumps the others like my almighty grocery list, which is always up and running in The Hungry Runner household.  It’s either being built vis-a-vis my handy countertop memo pad or it’s tucked away in my purse, ready to give purpose and direction to my next shopping excursion.  And if I must be honest, it’s also the only way I know of to keep me from spontaneously thinking, “Ooh, special-edition chocolate-covered raisins, excellent,” or, “Crunchy dessert that thinks it’s breakfast cereal, great idea!”  T’aint on the list, t’aint going in the cart.  DONE.  Move along.

Anyway, I couldn’t help but notice that one particular item keeps popping up on my magic list, at an accelerated rate from before.  No, it’s not carrots or apples.  OK, it’s that too, but that’s nothing new — I love those foods and am gnawing constantly on one or the other.  It’s not tuna, though that’s a close runner up (my middle name really should be Charlie).  It’s fat-free cream cheese.

Huh.  Fat-free cream cheese.  Who’da thunk?  And trust me, it’s not because Mr. Hungry Runner is suddenly draining my stash (by now I know better than to offer him fat-free anything, short of using it as a threat in heated argument).  So I decided to take a look at all of its occurrences over the last month alone.  Here we go, in no particular order:

Evamarie’s Fat-free Cream Cheese Log,  June 2011:

  • Mixed in (along with the mayo, pickle and other seasonings) my tuna salad
  • As a “binder” for my chicken-apple salad
  • Sweetened with non -caloric sweetener, flavored with cinnamon and spread on rice cakes
  • Stirred into hot oatmeal (with or without whey protein powder) to add thickness and creaminess
  • Mixed in (at the end, along with fresh mozzarella and chopped fresh basil) a sun-dried tomato-based risotto
  • Sweetenened with non-caloric sweetener, flavored with vanilla extract, and served in a bowl with fresh strawberries as a stand-in for “strawberry cheesecake”
  • Blended with frozen banana, yogurt, honey and peanut butter for a dense, high-protein smoothie
  • Mixed with cottage cheese and fresh ground pepper and served over baked (OK, microwaved) potato
  • Spread on wide strips of bell pepper, topped with smoked salmon

And since I’m the kind of person who tends to eat the same thing over and over….it’s increasingly clear to me, why suddenly, mysteriously, I’ve found this one ingredient to be migrating to the top of la lista per Von’s.  If WD-40 is the “if all else fails, use this” tool in everyone’s junk drawer, I dare declare fat-free cream cheese to be the Official WD-40 of The Hungry Runner!

And because I’m sure you’re all pondering the obvious, riveting, next question, “Well so which is it, generic brand or good ol’ Philadelphia?”  Not to worry, I won’t leave you in suspense:  For most savory and blended recipes, I find no need to be fussy:  go with the sales item.  But for recipes that are sweet, particularly those in which there are few other ingredients besides the fat-free cream cheese (or “ff cc” as I charmingly refer to it), then Philadelphia is the choice for mellow sweetness.

So there you have it!  I hope my inadvertant obsession with what admittedly starts out looking a bit like kid’s paste but thankfully can be So Much More is offering you some ideas on making good use of this (kind of) food for yourself!

When not Running (and not Hungry), Evamarie Pilipuf is a stretching consultant based in southern California, and the owner/operator of, a membership site where athletes stretch and do yoga online via Evamarie’s audio and video courses.


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