To this day I truly believe that I started the phrase “That’s cheesy.” I remember telling my sister that she was cheesy because she would “cheese” her toes, which in my eleven-year-old mind meant that she was wiggling her toes too close to me and her feet looked like american cheese slices (sorry Michelle!)
Speaking of American Cheese slices, that is the type of cheese that did NOT make the 150 of the Healthiest Foods on Earth list. Neither did Cheetos, Cheez-Its, Cheese Nips nor Spray cheese in a can (darn it!) Those “cheese foods” are the ones’ that my son wishes I would allow him to bring in his school lunch, instead of part-skim cheese sticks, but he is out of luck.
I was actually surprised to see cheese make the list of top 150 Healthy Foods, but it turns out so was Dr. Bowden. Cheese is such a broad category that it encompasses many unhealthy choices (think Velveeta) and many healthy choices (think Goat’s cheese.) Just like many other categories, the nutritional content of the cheese depends upon the source. Sheep and goat’s milk cheese are less likely to be factory farmed, therefore contains less drugs and antibiotics (see my free-range chicken post for more info.)
Most types of cheese have nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium and folate. Natural cheese also has all four fat-soluble vitamins: A, E, K, and D. Most cheese also has CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which is a cancer-fighting, fat-reducing fat. French cheese tends to be higher in CLA because French dairies are more likely to raise their cows on pasture. Just as I blogged about in my grass-fed beef post, the food that our food eats is extremely important.
One of my favorite types of cheese is ricotta. I can still remember my first calzone, at the age of ten, when my family traveled to New York. We got calzones at little family owned Italian restaurant and it was the best calzone I’ve ever had. It was filled with ricotta cheese, with a little bit of mozzarella. I’ve tried to recreate that taste at home to no avail. I am going to go back to New York someday, just to have that calzone.
One cup of ricotta cheese has 14 grams of protein, 257 mg calcium and 139 mg omega-3 fatty acid. This is great because I definitely try to have 40% of my calories from protein each day.
This weekend was Superbowl weekend, so I decided to try out a new recipe for our guests, Pizza Dip. The recipe is super simple, containing only three ingredients: tomato sauce, ricotta cheese and fresh diced mozzarella. Put the tomato sauce in an oven-proof skillet and drop dollops of ricotta cheese on top. Heat the mixture on the stove until warmed through. Top with fresh mozzarella cheese, diced into small pieces. Heat in a 350 degree oven until bubbly (about 20 minutes.)
Wow. It was delicious. Not the top diet food, but everything is OK in moderation.
What is your favorite cheese?