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Cheese To Your Health

 

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The holiday of Shavuot is fast approaching.   If you are a type A personality your menu has been planned for weeks…  And if you are not, there is still some time and some great ideas.  So ditch the chicken and chuck the cholent!  It is time to think outside the meat box and start spinning the cheese wheel.

Dairy might be good for our bones but is it good for our bodies? The dairy food group is the number 2 source of saturated fat and cholesterol in the American diet (after meat).   And if you are concerned about sodium (and we all should be) a slice of cheese pizza can pack as much as 900 mg of sodium – almost half your recommended daily intake.  On the plus side, cheese is an excellent source of high quality protein and calcium.  Cheese also contains vitamins, A and B12, riboflavin, phosphorous and zinc.

So, can you have your cheese and eat it too?  Of course!  Here are a few slices of advice to help you be more choosy about your cheese:

  • Skim the fat.  Whole milk cheese contains 6 to 10 g of fat per 1 ounce serving, more than half is saturated. Cut it by a third with reduced fat or part skim options.
  • Look at the labels.  Find cheese varieties with less sodium. The sodium content of cheese varies greatly.  For example, feta has approximately 317 mg per ounce while Swiss cheese has a mere 54 mg of sodium (the lowest sodium natural cheese).  On average, most natural cheeses range between 100 and 200 mg per ounce and processed cheese and cheesy foods contain 350 to 450 mg per ounce.
  • Follow the French.  Eat your cheese at the end of a meal.  Some cheeses have even been shown to protect against cavities, such as Gouda, blue, and Monterey Jack.
  • Savor the flavor.  Choose strong flavored cheeses for  maximum taste but fewer calories.  Except for my sister-in-law, I don’t know too many people that can devour blue cheese the way you might mozzarella.  The rich taste and strong smell are delicious, and deliver a powerful taste in small doses – perfect  forsprinkling on salads, shaving on pasta and crumbling on anything green.

Ready to try some healthy cheese recipes, here are a couple to get your started.  Try the gorgeous Shaved Asparagus Salad with Pecorino and these Sweet Potato Skins with Blue Cheese and Pecans.

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About Tamar Genger MA, RD

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Tamar lives in New York and is the mother of three amazing children, a Registered Dietitian, professor of Nutrition, and as you can probably guess, a foodie! Tamar loves to travel with her family and visits kosher restaurants wherever she goes. Although she loves the sights, she spends more time talking about the restaurants and food she ate! As a mom and a nutritionist, Tamar tries to balance her passion for healthy cooking with her insatiable desire for chocolate!

 

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3 Responses to Cheese To Your Health

  1. Blue Cheese and Sweet Potatoes sounds so good I can’t wait to try it. Thanks.

  2. avatar says: SarahEats

    Anything with cheese gets my vote – cannot wait to try these recipes!

  3. I am so lactose intolerant I am not looking forward to the next few days. But I did make a crustless quiche for dinner tonight with only 2 cups of low fat cheese and egg substitute and lots of vegetables.

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