Athenos Feta Cheese [Inside the Label] + Bonus Recipe

Feta cheese, of Greek origin, is a white crumbly and rindless cheese. It is traditionally made from sheep or goat milk and has a rich tangy flavor. In the US, Feta cheese is made from cow’s milk and while still delicious, does not have as strong a flavor.

Athenos is one of the more popular brands and touts itself as a healthy alternative to fatty American cheeses. In fact, it claims in its advertisements to have 30% less calories than cheddar cheese.

Let’s take a look inside the label…

What you need to know:

The ingredient list for the Chunk Feta is nice and short:

Pasteurized Part-Skim Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes.

A serving is 1 ounce, and contains 70 calories, 50 of which are from fat. The cheese has got 3.5 grams of saturated fat (18% of the daily max) out of a total of 6 grams (9% of the daily max). Not very low. You could buy the reduced fat version with 1/3 less grams of fat.

The sodium value is a bit high too, with 340mg per the small 1 ounce serving. That’s about 15% of the daily max.

Now let’s compare to cheddar cheese. A 1 ounce slice of cheddar cheese is between 100-110 calories. It has 5 grams of saturated fat and 9 grams total fat.

As you can see, the Feta cheese indeed has less calories, and less fat than the more familiar cheddar cheese option.

Recipe: Watermelon and Feta Autumn Salad from Chef Mike Benninger:

Chef Mike says: I have a very strict policy of recipes that goes that if it has 6 ingredients (not including salt, pepper, spices, sugar, oil, or water) or has a method with more than 5 steps, I usually I won’t make it. I cook for a living and I find recipes more complex than that are the ones that break your heart, and there are so many wonderful things to make that are easier, tastier and less prone to failure.

Ingredients:
2-4 limes, depending on juiciness     2 lbs. sweet, ripe seedless watermelon (very well chilled)
250g feta cheese (chilled)                   bunch of fresh basil rough chopped
bunch of mint, chopped                      4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and coarse black pepper

Instructions:
1. Remove the rind from the watermelon, and cut into approximately ¾” squares, maybe a little smaller if it has a very firm texture. Add to a large flat bowl. Drain the feta well and then dice into ¾” or so sized pieces, add it to the watermelon, then add the roughly chopped herbs.

2. Add the juice of 2 limes, the olive oil and VERY gently toss the salad so that the feta and melon don’t lose their shape. Add a good grinding of black pepper and taste to see whether the dressing needs more lime juice.

3. Serve topped with a sprinkle of coarse kosher salt; goes great with pinot grigio or sav blanc.

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  • Steve

    I would not call Athenos cheese “feta” – that would be like calling American cheese slices “cheddar”. Real feta cheese is available at your local Greek or sometimes middle eastern grocery stores, still in its brine. I have yet to find a packaged feta which taste anything like the real feta you can get at these stores or in Greece. Ask to taste each of the different kinds your local Greek grocer carries. My family typically prefers a stronger, creamier feta rather than a more subdued, crumbly feta.

    Our favorite feta recipe (one we used to eat all the time when we lived in Athens): Pasta with feta and lemons

    1 lb pasta
    Block of feta from your Greek grocer
    Greek oregano, preferably fresh
    2T Extra virgin olive oil
    Lemons

    Cook pasta. Toss with olive oil. Serve in wide bowls. Scoop out as much feta as you want from the block with a fork and mix in with pasta. Squeeze half a lemon over the pasta. Top with oregano. One of the easiest, simplest, and best meals you’ll find. We eat it often.

  • Paula

    The recipe reminds me of a grilled watermelon & tomato & basil salad I made a few weeks ago. I was amazed at how good watermelon can be in a savory salad. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe.

  • Carol

    Lower calories and fat is purely due to higher water content of this style of cheese.

  • http://foodtrainers.blogspot.com Lauren Slayton

    Love this chefs philosophy, recipes do not have to be complicated. Aside from Indian food, I do not use recipes with long ingredient lists, they can “break your heart”.

  • http://www.newtaste.com Dave Schy

    Another interesting fact to consider is that one ounce of cheddar is just one slice while one ounce of feta can be crumbled and easily cover 2 salads.

  • abigail

    Do you know of any feta cheese brand sold in the US that does not contain goat’s milk?

    abigail@ryanhood.com