Make Cheese the Star of Your Salad,
And You Just May Grow to Love It
Here’s a phrase I hear too often: “Gosh, I’d love to have that much cheese in my fridge, but the problem is I’d just eat it all in one sitting.” Artisan cheese is one of the healthiest foods out there when you eat it in the right quantity. To pursue a diet that’s both cheesy and wholesome, we must learn what a healthy portion of artisan cheese looks like. In terms of weight, a modest serving is about an ounce. Depending on the type of cheese, an ounce can have anywhere from under 100 calories to almost 200 calories, as well as varying ratios of fat to protein. With all high-quality cheeses, however, those are going to be some of the most fulfilling, nutrient-dense calories available. Cheese has everything you need to survive except fiber and vitamin C. This makes a portion of cheese, in addition to an ideal snack to replace empty calories, an ideal main component of a dish, replacing the meat, fish, or tofu you might otherwise use.
When using cheese as the main source of sustenance in your meal, like in this beet and blue cheese salad, you will probably want to use a double portion, about 2 ounces. Cheese is an ideal focal point on a salad because the fat and protein in the cheese helps slow your digestion, allowing you to absorb more nutrients in the healthy vegetables. That’s right! Cheese makes salad more delicious and healthier.
The reverse is also true: the fiber in the other components of the salad help to digest the cheese. In addition to eating the right portion sizes, it’s important to consider what you’re eating cheese with. Whereas green salads make an ideal nutritional pairing, a baguette, for example, brings out the worst in the nutritional profile of cheese.
Portion control is a bitch, I know. We are evolved for the see-food diet: when we see food in front of us, we want to eat it. That’s why you still pick at the cold fries on your plate after the burger is gone. Just because they’re sitting there, all sad and limp and worthless. But that’s not a reason to eat something. You deserve better than cold fries and acid reflux.
I’m not judging. We all overeat from time to time. Don’t think I’m above it. I struggle to control myself around cheese. If there’s a block of cheddar left out on the counter, all alone and inviting, I’d polish that bastard off clean to the last crumble of curd. I’d lick the countertop. It’s happened. But I’m not embarrassed, because deep down we’re all animals that just want to eat and fuck… Anyway, my point is the way I deal with my urge to overindulge in cheese is strict portion control. I cut and weigh the right portion of cheese, then I wrap it up, put it in the fridge, shut the door, and walk away. I don’t want to abuse my relationship with cheese. What we have is far too special.
The following recipe is about 575 calories for one servint. It’s a perfect lunch that travels well, if you keep the vinaigrette separate. Do you have any great cheese and salad recipes? Share your favorites in the comments!
- 2 ounces blue cheese (210 calories, 12 g protein
- 1 ounce walnuts, chopped (185 calories, 4.3g of protein
- 3 small roasted beets, peeled (55 calories)
- 1 cup sauteed beet greens (50 calories)
- 1/2 ounce sliced shallot (10 calories)
- sea salt and fresh black pepper
- For the dressing //
- ½ teaspoon mustard
- 2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 3 teaspoons olive oil
- Cut the beets into 1/2" pieces. Crumble the blue cheese into large chunks. I like to keep the pieces big to retain that dreamy texture.
- Make the dressing. Whisk together the mustard, vinegar, honey and a pinch of salt. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, while whisking vigorously.
- Arrange the beet greens on a plate. Top with shallots, beet pieces, walnuts, and cheese. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and finish with freshly ground black pepper.