Ah cheese and wine. It makes for the perfect Friday night in, but how can we ensure we’re not totally undoing all our hard work from the week that was? Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Chloe McLeod takes us through the makings of an (almost) guilt-free cheese board with all the extra trimmings. We’ll cheers to that!
There are so many different types of cheeses to choose from and although we really don’t like to discriminate, from a health and nutrition point of view, there are some that scale better for a number of various reasons. “Harder cheese, like cheddar or tasty cheese, are great sources of calcium,” explains Chloe. “Whereas ricotta and cottage cheese are richer in protein and lower in fat. Soft cheeses with a rind or mould on the outside (such as Brie) tend to be more of a ‘sometimes’ cheese, as they have less calcium and protein,” so it really all depends on your own personal nutritional needs.
Similarly, “cold meats are not all created equal! If choosing cold meats, choose ones that do not contain sodium nitrite or sodium nitrate (preservatives 249-252) and be sure that they come from a good quality source,” Chloe goes on to say. “Preferably grass fed if possible. Whilst not an ‘everyday food’, these do make a better choice, and can be happily enjoyed as part of your cheese platter.”
Fruit and nuts
“Fresh slices of fruit (such as pear, apricot or figs) work really well with cheese,” says Chloe. “Fresh fruit is low in calories and don’t have the additional sugar many of the fruit pastes do. Fermented vegetables (such as pickled cucumbers or onions) are good choices and raw nuts, such as almonds or walnuts are great options to include on the platter as well. Raw nuts are filling due to fibre and healthy fat content. Fermented vegetables are great for gut health.”
Instead of saying no to chips and crackers all together (because we all know how hard that is!) “try and avoid choices which are high in added flavours, salt and fat,” advises Chloe. “Wafer type biscuits, lavosh and wholegrain crackers are usually better options.” And when it comes to portion control? Be strategic with your plating. If it’s there, chances are you’re going to eat it! Unless you’re in a big group setting, you have control over how much you plate up.
“Many dips have vegetable oils, sugar and salt added to them,” explains Chloe. “Making them yourself means less addition of unnecessary ingredients. Vegetable oil is usually made from a mix of poorer quality oils; so choosing olive oil is your best bet when it comes to things like guacamole, tzatziki and hummus.” Love a drizzle of honey over your cheese? Opt for Manuka for its amazing antibacterial properties!
“Aim to stick to guidelines of 1 standard drink per day for women and 2 for men. Some people also don’t tolerate the preservatives in wine very well, so choose preservative-free if possible. For some, symptoms can arise in the form of a bad headache or even hay fever after a single glass. Also, don’t forget to alternate between wine and water, choose a wine you really like and savour every sip.”
You don’t need to tell us twice!