Saturday, February 2, 2013

Say Cheese!!

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Yay, a non-baby post!! It seems like the world of babies has taken over my life. I still have such a huge interest in nutrition though, so I'd like to start blogging more about that. I have a ton of topics on my list. Let's start with cheese.

The world of convenience food was brought to another level when pre-shredded cheese was readily available...and cheap! I think grating cheese is evil to most people (especially my husband). It takes forever, you're pretty likely to get a little skin in there (ha!, but yuck), and what do you do with the ends? Then there's sliced cheese. There's not much that seems wrong with this cheese, well except the fake Kraft kind that feels more like plastic than food. Brick cheese to me just seemed old fashioned. Something we bought we were children.

I've recently started looking closer at the cheese we buy. The first thing I wanted to get rid of was the artificial coloring. What cheese is yellow or orange by nature?? Why do they feel they have to add color? SO Weird!! My choices are usually Monterrey, Swiss, Mozzarella or White Cheddar.

Second, I started researching shredded cheese. The ingredients included a few extra items, and what is that powdery stuff that coats the shreds? Cellulose. Manufacturers use cellulose in shredded cheese to prevent clumping.

Cellulose is an difficult thing to discuss and even research. In the end I've found that it's actual wood pump. Not exactly saw dust, but enough like it to make me want to stay away. Okay, okay so it's a natural plant fiber (insoluble). However I don't usually go chew on a piece of bark, and I especially don't swallow it. The interesting thing about it is a lot of nutritionists and the FDA is they do not consider it toxic or harmful. Meat is the only food that has a limit on cellulose content-3.5%. So in the end, yes it's 'okay' that cellulose is in our food. It's even debated that it's good for us. We need insoluble fiber right? While I agree, I'd rather get it from FOOD. REAL FOOD. Not wood.

*These photos were taken before I went to WHITE cheese only.
So we decided to stay away from cellulose in our cheese (and hopefully other products). With that we had to rely on shredding it ourselves. Oh the life of a real foodie. Luckily, I have my handy-dandy food processor. It shred's a 2 lb bring of cheese in minutes!! I then bag it and throw in the fridge or freezer and presto! It even taste better.

What about sliced cheese? I never buy the cheap plastic kind. If I want the convenience of pre-sliced cheese, I'll get the natural kind, check the ingredients to make sure there's nothing added and done. Usually I'll just take some of my brink cheese and slice it myself. Again, my food processor comes in hand-it also has a slicer. I bag this separately and we have sliced cheese ready to go for my little guys grilled cheese sandwiches. Oh, and he doesn't even notice the cheese isn't orange!

*These photos were taken before I went to WHITE cheese only.
So that's where I'm at right now... we shred and slice our own WHITE cheese. It actually wasn't a hard change to make. I actually enjoy it. It makes me feel all domestic and such.

I do have one more step that we haven't accomplished yet-organic and grass fed. Because of budget and availability issues, this is one goal I'm still working on. I feel it's important to buy organic and grass fed cheese. Just as important as it is for milk. Organic cheese will be free of the hormones and antibiotics that is so prominent in most dairy.

Cheese from grass fed cows will have more Omega-3's than factory farm cows since they eat a natural diet of grass, insects, and soil.

One last thing to think about when selecting your cheese is fat content. I buy mainly full fat cheese since my baby loves his cheese and needs the fat. Plus it tastes better. I will admit though that I am a fan of low fat or non fat cheese. Not ideologically of course, but when it comes to losing weight-it's just hard to buy the full fat versions!!  However, I do believe that full fat dairy is the least processed and contains the most nutrients. I think buying the full fat dairy is a great choice, and if you are trying to lose weight, just cut back a little.

Well I hope this helps you choose how to buy your cheese. Baby steps is my motto in the real food journey. If you want to take it step by step try this:

1. White Cheese Only
2. No Cellulose-sliced or brick cheese only
3. Full Fat
4. Organic/Grass Fed

Even doing one of these steps is making the change to REAL FOOD.