Pass the Cheese Please!

Amy Gardner
December 4, 2014

Are you a cheese lover?  If so then you’re in good company!  This time of year definitely puts me in the mood for some warm brie, a nice viney blue or our family favorite, Dubliner.  Which is why this article in Food & Wine about the best artisinal cheese got my mouth watering.  It features some local New England cheeses including one from Shy Brothers Farm in Westport, MA.  Luckily, we don’t have to travel to Vermont, Connecticut or even Westport to enjoy these delicious artisinals.  If you visit the farm’s websites, you can find out where their products are sold or possibly order online.

Many people assume cheese isn’t “healthy” due to it’s high fat content.  Before I argue that point, let’s just say, so what if it isn’t healthy?  Must every morsel we put in our mouths be contributing to the greater good of our body?  Is enjoying food important?  Is it possible to balance nutrition with enjoyment?  What happens when you deprive yourself of foods you love?  Managing your relationship with food is a personal matter and these are good questions to ask yourself.

More often than note, deprivation leads to over-indulgence.  Think about this throughout the holiday season.  Let go a little more and let your body cues guide the way.  Try to avoid ‘all or nothing’ mentality.  Instead think ‘some’.  Many people give themselves unrestrained permission to eat throughout the holidays with the caveat “my diet starts in January”.  This can be a set up since the message remains that it’s really not ok to eat these foods and therefore, you better get it all in while you can!  I’m going to repeat my favorite quote from Ellyn Satter once again, “when you give yourself permission to eat, you can give yourself permission to stop.”

Now for the health benefits of cheese.  It is “healthy”.  Cheese is an excellent source of protein (5g/oz) and of course, calcium (~300mg/oz).  It also has a good amount of fat to help with satiety .  Cheese satisfies the palate’s craving for creamy, rich and savory food.  Finally, recently a lot of attention has been placed on the importance of our microbiome (see former post,  “Getting to Know Your Microbiome” for more on that).  While there is still a lot of research to be done, probiotics appear to help improve gut bacteria. One of the best sources of probiotics is raw milk.  That’s right raw, as in not pasteurized.

If interested in raw milk, you will want to find a local farm that sells it. The Raw Milk Network within the Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) is a great resource for finding local dairy farms.  You will also find more information here on local, organic foods.  Eastleigh Farm in Framingham offers raw as well as pasteurized dairy.

So go on, enjoy your cheese; along with a variety of other foods this holiday season!

Here are some of our favorite combos:

1.  Baked brie with fruit.  Try this one Baked brie with apples and cranberries .
2.  Fruit and cheese platter.  Here are some tips for creating it.
3.  Baked into things like in these cheese crisps.
4.  Sprinkled on salad.  Read about 5 great cheeses for salads.