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Cheese: You feta brie-lieve it!

Let’s talk about Cheese. It will be bit cheesy, just a brie-t. When we talk about cheese, it is related to enjoyment. Creamy, milky texture and flavour comes to mind. When we eat different cheese that comes from different part of world, greece, france, italy; we imaginal that we are there. It is one of the foods that most people love and enjoy.


Cheese can be incorporated into many meals from breakfast to dinner and in desserts too! With great nutritional benefits too, as cheese is high in calcium and protein. These two nutrients are key for the growth of children and maintaining healthy strong bones in adults. Let us bring your more joy with cheese and share more on the nutritional benefits to inspire you to include more cheese in your menus.  This is going to be gouda…


The Nutritional benefits of cheese from a dietitian

What is cheese?

Cheese is a dairy product that is formed from coagulation of milk protein mainly from cow, buffalo, goat, and sheep’s milk. Cheese is common around the world and can be found in many cuisines. Cheese is a very popular accompaniment to pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, and salads.


There is a wide variety of cheese that comes in different forms of taste, texture, moisture, and smell. Cheese is a nutritious dairy-made food from mammals, most commonly cows, goats, sheep and buffalo. Cheese is made by coagulating the milk protein casein. In Australia, cheese plays an important role in our diet, with almost one third of us eating cheese each day. The most common types of cheese consumed includes hard cheese, processed cheese, fresh cheese and surface ripened cheese.


Common different types and varieties of cheese

Hard cheese
Hard cheese

Hard cheese has very strong and unique flavours. Hard cheese is a mature-aged cheese, usually aged between 6 to 36 months, and therefore has a deep and concentrated flavour. It is a hard cheese due to its low moisture content from being cooked at a high temperature. Examples include grana Padano, pecorino, parmesan, gouda, Parmigiano Reggiano, provolone, pepato and Romano.


Processed cheese
Processed cheese

Processed cheese is a type of cheese that is made by adding ingredients such as food colouring, salt and emulsifiers. Sliced cheese, some packaged grated cheese and some American cheeses are examples of processed cheese.



Fresh unripened cheese
Fresh unripened cheese

Fresh cheeses have a soft and smooth texture, no rind and are very high in moisture. They taste milkier and are often used in cooking. Examples include ricotta, cottage cheese, cream cheese, feta cheese and paneer.



Surface ripened cheese
Surface ripened cheese

Surface ripened cheese is also known as white mould cheese. They have a creamy, rich and buttery flavour. White mould cheese has a white rind for the exterior, and inside they are creamy and have earthy flavours.  We can easily find surface ripened cheese such as Brie, Camembert, Triple Cream Cheese and Chèvre in Australia.


Wash rind cheese
Wash rind cheese

Wash rind cheese has a harder rind than the white mould cheese, they also have a bright red or orange rind as their colour. Wash rind cheeses are semi-soft with a strong aroma. Examples include gruyere, titlist and raclette.



Stretch curd cheese
Stretch curd cheese

These cheeses are cured in water between 70 to 80C for it to become elastic and can be pulled into threads, it is also known as ‘string cheese’. These are great to have on pastas, lasagnes, grilled sandwiches and in mac and cheese. Examples include mozzarella, bocconcini and halloumi.


Cheddar and cheddar styles
Cheddar and cheddar styles

The name cheddar cheese comes from how it has been processed, which is known as ‘cheddaring’. This is when blocks of cheese curds are stacked on top of each other to form the cheddar cheese. Cheddar cheese has a sharp taste and colouring from annatto is added to give its well-known yellow-orange colour.


Eye cheese
Eye cheese

This particular cheese is known for having holes or ‘eyes’. These eyes are developed due to the bubbles of carbon dioxide that is produced by the bacteria in the cheese. This cheese is supple and has a sweet and nutty flavour. Examples include Swiss cheese and Dutch gouda cheese.


Blue cheese
Blue cheese

Blue cheese has a natural crusty rind, it is ripened by mould, and it can been as blue mould spores which is the reason for its pungent smell.





The Nutritional benefits of cheese

Cheese is high in calcium and protein – two key nutrients that are important for both children and adults. Cheese also has many other nutritional qualities.


Cheese for Energy and Protein

Cheese provides energy and protein, an essential ingredient for kids all the way through to an aged care kitchen. Proteins are the building blocks for maintaining, repairing and building muscles.  Ensuring adequate protein intake will assist with strong muscles and allows individuals to do their daily tasks such as walking, running, cooking, lifting objects and simply moving around. A lack of protein can cause muscle weakness and slow growth in children.

On average, 1 serve of cheese provide around 500kJ energy and 8g protein. The amount of energy and protein can help to maintain muscle mass and minimise weight loss in elderly.


Cheese and Calcium

Cheese is one of the best sources of calcium in our diet. Calcium is a mineral that is important for the growth and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones. Calcium also has other roles in the body such as contributing to a healthy functioning of the heart, nerves, and muscles. A lack of calcium can lead to poor health outcomes, the body will start to break down the bones in our body to use calcium for other parts of the body. This increases the risk of developing porous bones that are weak and brittle, this is also known as osteoporosis. Eating cheese is a great way to gain more calcium, important for bone health, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and risk of falls and bone fractures.


Vitamins and Minerals in Cheese

Cheese also provides other nutrients from milk such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B12, iodine, phosphorus, selenium and zinc. They help the body’s metabolism, maintain energy levels and strengthen the immune system.


How much cheese do we need each day?

Cheese is classified as dairy - one of the five food groups in Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE). In the same group, cheese sit together with milk, yoghurt and other milk alternatives. The number of serve recommendations vary according to life age and gender. The recommended number of serves for dairy products and alternatives are shown below according to age group. For example, according to AGHE: for men aged 70+, 3.5 serves is recommended per day. For women aged 70+, 4 serves are recommended per day.


Dairy Serves per day

 

2-3 years

4-8 years

9-11 years

12-18 years

Boys

1 ½

2

2 ½

3 ½

Girls

1 ½

1 ½

3

3 ½

 

19-50 years

51-70 years

70+ years

 

Men

2 ½

2 ½

3 ½

 

Women

2 ½

4

4

 

It is crucial to achieve the recommended number of serves for dairy, particularly in growing children and in the elderly who are more prone to bone and muscle loss.


What is 1 serve of cheese?

A serving size of cheese provides approximately 500-600kJ energy, and it varies between different cheeses. Hard cheese and processed cheese usually have a higher energy content. Therefore, 40g of hard cheese such as cheddar, tasty, parmesan is equal to 1 serve of dairy. On the other hand, soft and fresh cheeses are less energy dense than the hard ones. 120g (1/2cup) of soft or fresh cheese such as ricotta and cottage, is equal to 1 serve of dairy.


One serving size of cheese is equivalent to:

  • 2 slices of cheese (40g)

  • 4cm x 3cm x 2cm cube hard cheese (40g)

  • ½ cup soft cheese such as ricotta and cottage cheese (120g)


Ideas to include cheese regularly in your Aged care and childcare menus

Ideas to include cheese regularly from breakfast to supper

Meeting recommendation of dairy is important for all ages. Cheese can be included anytime or with any meal of the day. It can be simple, savoury or sweet! Here are great ways to incorporate cheese into your daily throughout the day:


Breakfast

  • Ricotta with fresh fruit, nuts and seeds, drizzled with honey.

  • Bagel with cream cheese

  • Glass of milk as a drink

  • Add shredded cheese and milk to scrambled eggs.


Morning tea

  • Cheese and biscuits

  • Vegetable sticks with ricotta dip

  • Savoury muffins with vegetables and cheese


Lunch

  • Sliced cheddar cheese in sandwiches

  • Grilled cheese, tomato and ham sandwich

  • Parmesan shavings, feta, shredded cheddar, or fried halloumi in salad

  • Halloumi in burgers

  • Mac and cheese

  • Feta and pumpkin pizza

  • Ricotta cheese in a sandwich

  • Grated cheese on top of pasta


Afternoon tea

  • Cheese fondue with brie or camembert

  • Corn chips with cheese queso (Mexican cheese dip)

  • Small tub of yoghurt


Dinner

  • Sliced cheddar cheese in sandwiches

  • Parmesan shavings, feta, shredded cheddar, or fried halloumi in salad

  • Halloumi in burgers

  • Shredded cheddar cheese on top of baked dishes such as lasagne

  • Pasta with white, creamy cheese sauce

  • Cheese sauce on steamed vegetables

  • Grated cheese to soup, savory dish and mash potato

  • Creamy cheese base sauce for main meals


Dessert

  • Cheesecake

  • Baked ricotta chocolate tarts


Mmmm cheese platters…

Making a cheese platter is easy and only involves a few steps. First, choose the cheese, display on the plate either cut up or not. Next, choose different items to accompany the cheese, such as nuts, fresh fruit, fruit spread and multigrain crackers. One platter can have so many nutrients all on the one plate! Yum!


Common Cheese myths

During our dairy webinar, we answered a bunch of cheese myths using the latest evidence-based practice. We covered topics, such as

  • Can you still have some cheese and dairy foods even if you’re lactose intolerant?

  • How much lactose is in Cheese?

  • What types of cheese can you eat when you're pregnant?


Find out the answers here


Ain’t no one cheddar, than you!

Dairy is an essential component in all menus and cheese is one of the sources of dairy that can enhance flavour, texture, smell and colour of a dish.  For more information on dairy and nutrition subscribe to our website to get regular updates and inspiration. Our team of Dietitians are your go-to source for all things nutrition, and provide a range of services to Aged Care homes and Childcare Centres to help residents and children meet their requirements as well as through our clinic.


For more tailored information, reach out to our team today.

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