Want my trick for starting the year off on a fun and healthy note? Drag out the fondue pot!
Fondue is a casual and social way to celebrate. The trouble is, fondue — especially cheese fondue — can be incredibly unhealthy. A classic fondue starts with rich cheeses blended with a little spice and some white wine to create a thick, savory sauce for dipping chunks of bread and other morsels.
Delicious, but dangerous to your New Year’s resolutions. So I decided to make a recipe that lets you eat sinfully without the sin. The secret is in the blend of cheeses: I used a low-fat Jarlsberg, a creamy light brie and already low-calorie pecorino Romano to make a rich fondue that no one will guess is low in calories and fat.
For the liquid, I chose dry Champagne — one of the lowest calorie adult beverages you can serve — and a thickener similar to cornstarch called arrowroot (which has virtually no calories) in order to get the right consistency and flavor.
Fondues are outrageously easy to prepare — virtually no cooking skill required. For starters, allow the cheese to stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before making the fondue so it will melt more quickly and incorporate more smoothly. Then simply stir together the ingredients in a saucepan, blend well and heat.
Next, pour the mixture into a fondue pot and perch it on a coffee table or dining table where everyone can indulge.
For healthy dunking, you can serve whole-wheat bread or grapes for dipping, or even pieces of raw broccoli, cooked shrimp or baked chicken strips. I suggest coating these with the thinnest layer of cheese possible, so that you can still taste whatever is at the end of your dipping stick.
Finally, pull up some chairs or cushions (yes, you can place your fondue pot right on the floor) for some relaxed eating fun.
And the numbers alone are reason to celebrate. Traditional cheese fondue can pack 670 calories and 29 grams of fat per serving. My version comes in with just 227 calories and 10 grams of fat.
Allow the cheese to stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before making the fondue; it will melt quicker and blend more smoothly.