Annual consumption has been growing steadily for decades, and last year reached about 39 pounds per person; that’s about three-fourths of a pound per week. But as we nibble away, concerns about calories, sodium, and fat persist. So where does cheese fit in a healthy diet?
Fat and calories What is the typical nutrition profile for cheese? A typical slice (22 grams) of Swiss Cheese is 86 calories, with 6.8 grams of fat, 5.9 grams of protein, and zero fiber and sugar. Mozzarella is one of the lowest calorie (78 calories per ounce) cheeses. An ounce of brie is about 100 calories. Colby, jack, edam and gouda are much higher.
Pairings For a festive cheese board, with great variety:
- A variety of crackers
- Nuts—both plain and candied
- Jams, honeys or conserves
- Pickles and olives
- Fresh fruits and veggies
- Sausage and deli meats
- Fresh herbs
- Candies or small cookies
Meat Replacement While I enjoy all of the meat family, cheese works well in certain dishes, as a meat substitute. Pasta comes to mind first, in casseroles and salads. Try my great Five Cheese Penne Pasta that I sent for the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Some real cheese heads just use a block of their favorite cheese as their main dish! I am not sure what the right answer might be. A few of my favorites are fontina, Havarti, gouda, and Jarlsberg. On the softer side, camembert, and brie are at the top of my list.
Dessert When this first came up, I was a college student, in a French restaurant for the first time. Imagine my surprise! After the initial shock, I started to enjoy it. I prefer a lighter, creamery cheese, rather than the stronger, drier cheeses for dessert. My rule of thumb? The nicer the restaurant, the better the cheese selection. Add a nice port or dessert wine! An older, single malt Scotch also pairs well.
With wine This is my favorite combination. The combination improves both the wine and the cheese. My top choice is champagne with brie. I have a preference for softer cheeses, though the harder ones are typically healthier in fat and calorie content.
People tend to focus on the calories, rather than the taste. I understand. But cheese is an indulgence well worth the calories!!! I would love to hear your favorites.