Cheese is a solid food predominately made from the milk of cows, goats and sheep. Cheese can be made from whole, 2% low-fat, 1% low-fat or non-fat milk. There are literally thousands of varieties of cheeses produced around the world and they vary by region.
Cheese’s look, feel, style and distinctiveness is a result of the milk used, the kind of bacteria or mold added, the length of aging, fat content, and how it was processed. Other factors include herbs, spices, smoking processes, whether or not the milk was pasteurized, and the diet of the animal.
There are also many cheese alternatives that do not contain animal products, but are made with soy products like isolated soy protein and tofu, and rice, almond or oat milk, or nuts. Added to these products are various gums, cornstarch and tapioca to provide a cheese-like texture. What makes these vegan cheeses so desirable is that most of them have no cholesterol, have fewer calories and less protein and fat, but they do have slightly more sodium than dairy cheese.
Cheese can be mass-produced or be created by an artisan. Like coffee and chocolate, dairy and vegan cheeses can have thousands of flavors and nuances. Cheese can taste different to you based on what you have just eaten or drank.
Cheese is truly a compact form of nutrition. Besides its unique taste and versatility in eating and cooking, cheese is valued for:
- Its long shelf life
- High fat content
- A high concentration of vitamins and minerals
A one-ounce serving of cheddar cheese contains about seven grams of protein and 200 milligrams of calcium, but beware of its fat content. Most nutrition experts believe you should consume no more than two ounces per week. The fat content of cheeses varies by type. Usually, any grocery store or cheese shop will sell three kinds of low-fat cheeses:
- Low-fat – 3 grams or less of fat per serving
- Reduced-fat – 25% less fat than its full-fat counterpart
- Fat-free – less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving
Veggie cheese brands
- Follow Your Heart
- Play Food
- Tofutti Brands
- Soya Kass
- Soyco or Soymage
- Vegan, Tofu, Hemp, Zero-fat, and Almond Rellas
Look at cheese as a treat and enjoy it with a good glass of wine or piece of fruit. I’m not a big fan of adding cheese to any dish or meal just to add it. Why would you want the additional calories or fat? Cheese – at least to me – is meant to be savored and enjoyed in rich Italian or Mexican meals.
If you are going to eat cheese, buy the best cheese you can buy – organic if possible, but if you are using cheese for cooking, always buy the low-fat or skim milk cheese and make up the difference in flavor with spices. Also experiment with some of the vegetable or nut-based cheeses. It’s amazing how some of these cheeses taste today.