Cheese, you either love it or hate it. I love it, like seriously love it. A good charcuterie board poolside is my very own little slice of heaven. But the question always seems to be, is it healthy for you? Cheese is a great source of calcium, fat, and protein. It also contains high amounts of Vitamins A and B-12, along with zinc, phosphorus, and riboflavin. Cheese made from the milk of 100% grass-fed animals is the highest in nutrients, and also contains omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin K-2. But cheese is also loaded with artery-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol. Eating too much fat from animal-derived sources can lead to high cholesterol and heart disease. Here’s a breakdown of my favorite snack, calorie by calorie.
Brie (1 ounce)
Cheddar (1 ounce)
Feta (1 ounce)
Gouda (1 ounce)
Mozzarella (1 ounce)
Swiss (1 ounce)
Note: One ounce of cheese is about the size of a 1-inch cube. All cheeses above are full-fat versions.
In general, cheese is a healthy and delicious source of many nutrients.
Occasionally snacking on cheese or having a few crumbles with your salad or sprinkled over vegetables, isn’t likely to cause any problems. Overconsuming can and will cause problems though. I would suggest doing what I do and adding way more veggies with healthy, nondairy dips to your next charcuterie board. 1/4 cheese, 3/4 other is my motto. Hummus and cucumber dip make great additions!
Here is my favorite hummus recipe:
-Chickpeas (3 cups). Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are the star ingredient in hummus. Canned or dry chickpeas? If you’re wondering how to make hummus from scratch–the best, extra creamy, authentic stuff–you’ll want to cook your own chickpeas from scratch (you’ll give them a good soak overnight + boil in water until well-done. More on this later)
-Garlic (1 or 2 cloves). Start with 1 clove and make sure it is finely minced. Tip: to tame its pungency, allow minced garlic to sit in a little bit of lemon juice for a few minutes.
-Tahini (⅓ cup). Tahini is a rich, nutty and slightly bitter paste made from toasted sesame seeds.
-Fresh Lemon Juice (from 1 lemon). Fresh lemon juice is just the thing to add tang here.
-Kosher Salt. Just a pinch of kosher salt to your liking. You can always add more.
-Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
-Soak and cook the chickpeas
If using dry chickpeas allow extra time for soaking (overnight) and cooking (2 hours).
Take 1 cup dry chickpeas and place it in a large bowl. Add plenty of water and soak overnight (chickpeas will expand in the bowl).
When ready, drain chickpeas and place them in a medium-sized heavy cooking pot. Cover with water by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours. You should end up with about 3 cups of cooked chickpeas.
*If using canned chickpeas, give them a quick 20-minute simmer in plenty of water to help soften them some more.
-Peel the chickpeas
Cover the cooked chickpeas in hot water and add 1 ½ tsp baking soda. Leave for a few minutes. Take a handful of chickpeas and rub under running water to remove the skins. Discard skins. Let the chickpeas cool completely before using.
-Puree them in a food processor
Dry the chickpeas well then add them to the bowl of a large food processor that’s fitted with a blade. Run the processor until the chickpeas turn into a smooth powder-like paste.
-Add the rest and keep blending
While the food processor is running, add 2 ice cubes, tahini, salt, and lemon juice. Blend for about 4 minutes or so. Check, and if the consistency is too thick still, run processor and slowly add a little hot water. Blend until you reach desired silky-smooth consistency. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the hummus for an hour or so before serving.
-Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish.
Spread in a serving bowl and add a generous drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil. Add a few chickpeas to the middle as a garnish if you like. Sprinkle sumac on top. Enjoy with warm pita wedges and your favorite veggies and some warm pita bread. My favorite garnishes are Tahini and roasted red peppers blended inside! YUM!
And Here is my favorite super simple, nondairy cucumber dipping sauce. Enjoy!
-40mL extra virgin olive oil
-2 tbsp of lemon juice
-1 garlic clove
-black pepper & salt to taste
With the use of a food processor, blend the blanched almonds together with the chopped cucumber and the rest of the ingredients until you get a smooth sauce. Try it then add salt and/or pepper to-taste if needed. Enjoy!