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Cheese of the Week: Meadow Creek Dairy's Appalachian Cheese

Cheese of the Week: Meadow Creek Dairy's Appalachian Cheese


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In today's incredibly particular, local-and-organic-obsessed, farm-to-table-conscious food movement, Appalachian Cheese from Meadow Creek Dairy is a perfect example of truly mindful farming and cheesemaking.

Handmade on the Feete Family Farm in the Appalachian mountains of southwest Virginia, this cheese has been produced for more than 15 years on the family's herbicide- and pesticide-free pastures. Located at an altitude of 2800 feet, the farm has an ideal climate for producing grass for their unique Jersey cross-bred herd.

Cows are meant to eat grass, not grains as they do at most conventional confinement dairies. At the Feete Family Farm, the cows live outside and graze rotationally – they are moved from field to field on a regular basis. This keeps the pastures’ grass from being eaten to the ground and doesn’t allow the cows’ manure to be concentrated on a small area, which in turn keeps the chemical balance of the land in its optimal state. When the chemical balance of the soil is at its best, the grass has more essential vitamins and minerals for the cows, and the quality of milk improves enormously.

Not only is Meadow Creek Dairy committed to keeping their cows healthy and their milk quality pristine, but The Feete Family has opted to only make their cheese from milk obtained while the cows are actively feeding on pastures, thus imparting the cheese with more nuanced flavors and grassier notes. All of their cheese is made within two hours of milking the cows, so the milk is at its absolute freshest. This dairy could produce much more cheese – and make far more money – by selling cheese made from the cows while they eat stored food, but they choose not to because they feel that cheese would not live up to the standard of quality they strive to maintain. Doing what is best for the cheese and those who eat it is more important to the Feete family than making more money by selling a slightly inferior product. This is both rare and admirable in today’s harsh economy, and encapsulates the true mindset of the farm-to-table ethos.

As for the taste of the cheese itself: Appalachian is an authentic reflection of the farm. It is no longer patterned after any one specific cheese; rather, the Feete family’s goal has been to reflect the exceptional quality of the farm’s milk and in the process develop an American original. It is semi-soft, with sweet, bright, citrus flavors, and comes in a unique square shape with a dappled white rind and a bright yellow paste. Each cheese is aged in underground, high-humidity cellars, which over the past seven years have developed their own distinctive microflora. They are flipped once or twice a week depending on their age; they are aged for a minimum of ninety days.

This cheese pairs well with the Terrapin Rye Pale Ale, brewed in Athens, Georgia; this spicy rye beer will be perfect with the cave flavors and pasture notes in the cheese. And because I am a country boy, I'd recommend trying it with a nip of Julien “Pappy” Van Winkle’s 23-year-old bourbon. The first sip has a little bite, but the next few sips will be perfection

Appalachian Cheese is a fantastic example of a product that defines the food term "local." In the words of cheesemaker Helen Feete, "Appalachian is an original cheese designed to showcase our land, our milk, our cows, our cellars…to be a cheese of its place."

Additional reporting by Madeleine James.


Brexit: UK cheese firm boss in despair over minister's export advice

The boss of a Cheshire cheese firm has told of his despair over Brexit after an unexpected meeting with the environment minister resulted in advice to look at the US and Canada markets.

Simon Spurrell, the co-founder of the Cheshire Cheese Company, was phoned “out of the blue” for an online meeting with Victoria Prentis after he embarked on a personal crusade involving nearly 100 media interviews in the UK and the EU about his post-Brexit plight.

He says the past three months have been among the worst in his career, with a lucrative EU business brought to a halt because of the extra costs and paperwork caused by a hard Brexit.

Spurrell has been been left with a £250,000 hole in his export trade with Europe but said Prentis told him in a meeting on Tuesday there was nothing she could do to ease the barriers because the extra paperwork, including health certificates for each consignment of cheese, were mandatory under EU rules.

Sales of his £25 to £30 pack of cheeses to individuals were growing and he had planned a £1m warehouse in Macclesfield to fulfil orders.

But under the new rules each parcel needs to be accompanied by a health certificate costing £180, making low-value sales unviable.

The environment minister and her aides suggested he pursue business in “emerging markets” across the Atlantic where different barriers apply but he explained that the delivery costs were prohibitive.

“It was a fairly useless conversation as a whole,” he said.

“We have had a flood of people offering anything from: ‘Come to our town in Lithuania, Poland, France, Hungary, we’ll help you set up, we’ve got the resources,’ to British in the EU saying: ‘We’ve got a lock-up you can store your cheese here if you want,” said Spurrell.

“They think there’s an opportunity to get employment in their town, but that’s exactly what the British government should be doing.”.

Back home, he has been offered help from the Department for International Trade with “emerging markets” but says what he wanted was help with salvaging his EU business.

A spokesperson for Defra said Spurrell’s reflection of the meeting was different to theirs and while the minister was unable to help him on the health certificate requirements, she “highlighted our desire to help the Cheshire Cheese Company where possible”.

The department also committed to sending him “further information on possible trading solutions – including on groupage [multiple consignments per truck], which some dairy businesses are using to export products successfully”.

But Spurrell said while they were trying to help he saw no way of salvaging his consumer sales business in the EU.


Gluten-free Dairy-free Ground Beef Casserole Recipes

1. Sweet Potato Cheeseburger Casserole
Who doesn’t love cheeseburgers? But when you’re gluten-free and dairy-free, they aren’t as easy to enjoy without getting a little creative.

This recipe will lighten up the traditional cheeseburger and give you all the flavors you’re after to satiate your craving.

2. Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping
Shepherd’s pie is an amazing comfort food, but with a few simple swaps, this recipe can be made gluten-free, dairy-free, and even healthier!

3. Low Carb Hamburger Casserole
This tasty hamburger casserole uses healthy cauliflower to keep it on the lighter side, while the chicken bone broth and coconut milk are excellent for your digestion and naturally gluten-free and dairy-free.

4. Barbecue Beef, Bean, and Bacon Casserole
This dish screams summertime campout to me. The ingredients are simple, but the seasonings help kick it up to a new level.

Plus, it’s gluten-free and dairy-free and hearty enough that the whole family can enjoy!

5. Easy Hamburger Casserole
When I first stumbled upon this recipe, I thought it was the weirdest idea, but after reading through the blog post and directions, I was quickly on board.

Who doesn’t love the flavors of hamburgers without all the work of putting them together? This easy hamburger casserole is naturally gluten-free and dairy-free when you leave out the cheese.

6. Grandma Cash’s Hamburger Bean Casserole
Talk about down-home cooking! This recipe is another simple but flavorful (and naturally gluten-free and dairy-free) and I love that she gives options for the Instant Pot to make it even faster to get a tasty meal to the table.

7. Keema
I love recipes like this Keema ground beef casserole. With only 7 main ingredients, you can get a huge bang for your buck and loads of nutrient-dense goodness on a gluten-free dairy-free diet.

8. Gluten and Dairy Free Tater Tot Casserole
This Tater Tot casserole turns a old favorite into a gluten-free dairy-free version so you don’t have to miss out on an old family favorite.

Gluten-free flour and soy milk are the main swaps, but also be sure that whatever beef bouillon you use is gluten-free and dairy-free too!

9. Thai Ground Beef & Spaghetti Squash Casserole
Don’t let the long list of ingredient throw you off making this recipe! With loads of naturally gluten-free and dairy-free ingredients, you’re going to load up on nutrient dense foods and get the tasty goodness from a Thai-inspired dish.

10. Mom’s Comfort Casserole
I love seeing family recipes adapted to become gluten-free and dairy-free – and this recipe doesn’t disappoint!

By simply swapping out spiralized sweet potato for the normal elbow macaroni and taking out the cheese entirely, a new dish is born – and suitable for any gluten and dairy-free diet.

11. Gluten-free Dairy-free Mexican Beef and Beans Casserole
What’s great about this recipe is not only that you get some of the best flavors of Mexican food, but that you can freeze it ahead of time for easy prep later on.

12. Ground beef Tomato Spinach Casserole
This classic Italian dish gets a gluten-free dairy-free stamp of approvel with gluten-free pasta – and NO cheese or dairy.

13. Paleo and Whole 30 Breakfast Casserole
Breakfast casseroles are a favorite in our house, but without the gluten and dairy- you have to get creative.

This paleo and whole 30-friendly breakfast casserole makes it happen with bacon, ground beef, onion, garlic, zucchini, carrots, and eggs.

14. Make Ahead Mexican Breakfast Casserole
This make ahead Mexican breakfast casserole has got to taste good, because it has almost all my favorite Mexican flavors included: ground beef, sweet potatoes, jalapeno, chili powder, and tomatoes.

Add some eggs, spinach, and some seasonings – and a beautiful breakfast that can be prepped ahead is born.

15. Creamy Beef & Cauli Rice Casserole
I love when simple ingredients are dressed up and made to taste out of this world. This beef and cauli rice casserole does just that – turns plain ground beef and casserole up a notch with tons of seasonings and flavor.

16. Cabbage Beef Casserole
I love the simplicity of this casserole – a few simple whole food ingredients turned into something amazing. Ground beef, onions, rice, and cabbage are the star of this easy dish.

17. Bacon Burger Cauliflower Rice Casserole
This recipe is a nod to bacon cheeseburgers – but healthier. No guilt, no dairy, no gluten – just cauliflower, ground beef, bacon, tomatoes, and seasonings for a yummy meal idea.

18. Easy Layered Crockpot Casserole
For a homestyle cooked meal, try this crockpot recipe with ground beef, red potatoes, frozen corn, peas, and carrots, Daiya cheddar cheese, and a homemade cream of chicken soup.

19. Dairy-free Tater Tot Casserole
This dairy-free tater tot casserole is a gluten and dairy-free twist on an old classic. With tater tots, ground beef, onion, cooked vegetables, and a homemade dairy-free condensed soup, you’ll love how this comfort meal comes together.

20. Hamburger and Rice Casserole
This recipe is simple, but great for a hearty dinner. Hamburger casserole with cornbread topping is made with ground beef, onions, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and gluten-free cornbread mix. It couldn’t be easier!

21. The Best Taco Bake
I love recipes that recreate flavors I enjoy into new dishes. This taco bake is the perfect blend of all your favorite Mexican ingredients, layered up, then baked.

This dish takes about 50 minutes to make.

22. Mexican Rice Casserole
One-pan meals are some fo my favorite to make, and this Mexican Rice Casserole is full of flavors, like peppers, tomato paste, chili powder, garlic powder, and cumin.

With ground beef, rice, spinach, and cilantro, you know it will taste good!

23. Gluten-free Taco Casserole
This gluten-free taco casserole is made with a shortcut, using McCormick gluten-free taco mix. To be sure it’s dairy-free, use dairy-free cheddar cheese.

24. Dairy-free Cheeseburger Casserole
When you’re gluten-free, you either have to opt for a gluten-free bun or lettuce wrap with burgers.

This cheeseburger casserole takes it to a new level by combining all your favorite cheeseburger flavors into a casserole. You even get to make your own dairy-free cheese sauce with this recipe!

25. Spaghetti Squash Pie
Technically, this recipe is considered a “pie” instead of a casserole, but with ingredients like spaghetti squash, ground beef, onion, diced tomatoes with green chiles, spinach, applesauce, red bell pepper, and seasonings, no matter what you call it – you know it’s going to be good.

I hope you loved this gluten and dairy-free ground beef casserole recipe roundup and found some great inspiration for getting dinner to the table this week! If you try any of these recipes and love them, I’d love for you to share in the comments. As a community, it’s nice to know what others try so that we can all benefit!

If you loved this post, I hope that you’ll share it with your friends on Facebook and pin it for future reference on Pinterest.


Cream Cheese: Is It Healthy?

Does this soft, spreadable cheese have any place in a healthy eating plan? It may depend on which kind you choose.

Cream cheese comes in numerous forms: brick, regular, whipped, light, fat-free and Neufchatel. You can also find regular, light and fat-free in flavors like scallion, vegetable, cinnamon-raisin, salmon and strawberry.

Two tablespoons of regular cream cheese have 100 calories, 9 grams of fat and 6 grams of saturated fat. So if you want to lighten things up, whipped or light varieties are the ways to go.

Whipped cream cheese incorporates air (from whipping) so it seems as if you're eating more. Two tablespoons have 80 calories, 8 grams of fat and 5 grams of saturated fat.

Light cream cheese has even fewer calories, with 2 tablespoons clocking in at 70 calories, 5 grams of fat and 3 grams of saturated fat. (Fat-free has about half the calories of whipped or light.)

Neufchatel has one-third less fat than regular cream cheese with 80 calories, 6 grams of fat and 4 grams saturated in 2 tablespoons.

Beyond its traditional uses (with lox, in cheesecake), cream cheese can enhance the flavor of many healthy recipes. Use the whipped or low-fat variety to make cream cheese frosting, mashed potatoes, artichoke dip, alfredo sauce or even a cheese and fruit pizza. As always, the key is to keep portions under control.

Regular cream cheese has a fair amount of fat, especially the artery-clogging kind, for a pretty moderate serving. Cream cheese also doesn't provide a significant amount of any good-for-you nutrients.

If you do choose the fat-free, you may be disappointed in the flavor and the laundry list of preservatives (they need to replace the fat with something!).

The Verdict: If you're a cream cheese lover, choose a touch of whipped or light cream cheese to get your fill. (A tub of the whipped variety is a staple in my house!) To make a little go even further, add your own ingredients (like fresh chives, scallions or freshly chopped veggies) for more flavor.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »


Classically Cheesy Foods That Can Actually Be Plenty Delicious Without Dairy

Okay, so here are some of the classically cheesy foods we all know and love, along with some of the cheese-free alternatives I’ve been enjoying.

Pizza

Vegan Summer Pizza with Sweet Corn, Cherry Tomatoes, and Fresh Basil

We have pizza every Friday night. So health-wise, it’s perhaps a good thing that I had to nix the cheese!

I’ve tried vegan pizza many ways over the past year, and I have to say, a pizza without cheese isn’t really as depressing as it sounds! I’ve found that you either need to have 1) some element of creamy (to make up for the creaminess the cheese would have contributed, like a creamy sauce or flavorful pesto), or 2) add a little vegan cheese to the mix – either nut parm or store-bought. Otherwise, good ingredients like an amazing homemade crust and a terrific sauce go a long way.

Recipes to try:

  • Vegan Summer Pizza with Sweet Corn, Tomatoes, and Basil – The creamy sauce made with pureed coconut milk, garlic, and corn totally makes this pizza. So good.
  • Vegan White Pizza from Veggie Angie – That transcendent roasted garlic and coconut milk sauce and the pop of sun-dried tomatoes? Yum.
  • My Favorite Vegan Pizza from Minimalist Baker – Dana sautes the veggies before baking her pizza and swears by it. I’ve tried it – it definitely makes for a tasty pizza! A dusting of cashew parm completes the picture.
  • Deep-Dish Vegan Pepperoni Pizza from Namely Marley – that homemade pizza crust, vegan pepperoni, some vegan cheese shreds and nut parm … if you’re really missing traditional pizza, carnivore style, this decadent affair should do you nicely.
  • Florentine Dairy-Free Pizza from BBC Good Food – if you’re a meat-eater removing the dairy from your diet, this delicious-looking pizza has plenty of options for you.

Macaroni & Cheese

Ridiculously Creamy Vegan Shells and Cheese

I waxed poetic about how much I love macaroni and cheese in this post, which is also one of the most popular recipes ever on Kitchen Treaty. But, hey, going cheese-free is an opportunity to be creative in the kitchen, right? Oh, who am I kidding. I miss mac and cheese.

But there are a few options that come surprisingly close to the real thing. Many of them involve some sort of vegetable-based cheese sauce, and they’re remarkably creamy and delicious. There are also options out there that utilize cashews or store-bought vegan cheese products. (I now have a cashew-based vegan shells and cheese recipe that is on constant rotation around here!)

Recipes to try:

  • Ridiculously Creamy Vegan Shells & Cheese – Cashew based and SO GOOD. Just swap out the shells for macaroni if you want the full-on mac and cheese experience.
  • Creamy Stovetop Vegan Mac & Cheese – This mac & cheese uses sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and no nutritional yeast if you’re not quite ready to try it or (what happens to me often) you’ve run out. I love this stuff!
  • Dairy-Free Mac & Cheese from Fork & Beans – Another veggie based version, this one uses cauliflower and butternut squash. I love the cauliflower especially – it gets so silky and creamy smooth when pureed.
  • Grown-Up Dairy-Free Mac & Cheese from Go Dairy Free – this version replicates the roux-and-cheese base that is the heart of most classic mac and cheese recipes. It uses almond milk and store-bought vegan cheese and though I haven’t tried this one yet, it looks remarkably good!
  • Chipotle Mac & Cheese with Roasted Brussels Sprouts from The Post Punk Kitchen – another cashew-based dream.
  • Vegan Mac & Cheese with Butternut Squash Noodles from Food, Faith, Fitness – Creamy butternut squash noodles with a creamy, cheesy cashew-based sauce. Yum.
  • Creamy One-Pot Pumpkin Pasta – This is not a mac & cheese recipe, but that creamy, tasty sauce is sure reminiscent of many of the qualities of classic mac. I encourage you to give the dairy-free version a try!

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Tangy Cheese Sauce on a Beastly Pretzel Slider

This recipe for White Pizza Grilled Cheese went viral in Kitchen Treaty’s early days, and trust me, this decadently cheesy sandwich – and grilled cheese sandwiches in general – are one of my favorite foodstuff. Ever. And I hate to say it, but I’ve really not been able to come close to replicating a good grilled cheese sandwich. WAIT, SCRATCH THAT! It’s now 2020, and I can now say that I’m all about Chao slices in grilled cheese sandwiches. A bit of olive oil or vegan butter on the outside of the bread, cook like any ol’ grilled cheese, and you’ve got some serious melty grilled cheese bliss. (Scroll up to the Vegan Cheeses section to read more about Chao).

I’ve also used hummus in lieu of cheese or cheese substitutes altogether. I haven’t quite perfected that one, but it’s passable.

Recipes to try:

  • Grilled Cheese Sandwiches from Vegan Yumminess – That vegetable-based cheese sauce looks ooey-gooey-melty perfect.
  • Vegan Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions from My Whole Food Life – A “cheesy” cashew-based sauce along with a smattering of veggies make this sandwich a contender for sure.
  • Tangy Cheese Sauce on a Beastly Pretzel Slider from Spa Bettie – Not a classic grilled cheese per se, but dang if this cheese-and-bread combo doesn’t look insanely good.

Lasagna

This is another cheesy delight that’s hard to come close to replicating. This summer, I worked on a version of this no-bake summer lasagna with tofu ricotta swapped in for the cheeses. It was pretty good! (I need to perfect it and will share the final recipe once I have!)

There are a few ways to go about dairy-free lasagna. First, you can just swap out the cheeses with store-bought vegan cheeses. Done. You can also create a tofu ricotta that tastes much like the real thing – it’s uncanny and delicious in lasagnas. Another great ricotta sub can be made with cashews. Or perhaps a bechamel-like cashew cream? Seriously, is there anything cashews can’t do?!

Finish up with a sprinkle of nut parmesan and deliciousness ensues.

Recipes to try:

  • Vegan Lasagna with Lemon Basil Cashew Cheeze from Oh She Glows – This incredibly decadent-looking version makes use of a lemon basil cashew “ricotta” along with store-bought shreds. Yum!
  • Ultimate Vegan Lasagna from Vegetarian Times – This one uses both tofu ricotta and vegan cream cheese.
  • Vegan Butternut Squash Lasagna with Cashew Cheese & Kale Pesto from Food By Mars – Creamy cashew cheese, pesto, and butternut squash make an extra-healthy lasagna.

Quesadillas

Dairy-Free Green Chile Enchilada Quesadillas

Quesadillas are another tough one. Again, store-bought shreds are one option. Another way to go about a cheese-free quesadilla? Try inserting some avocados. They add the creaminess that you’re missing – so good.

Recipes to try:

  • Green Chile Enchilada Quesadillas from Fork & Beans – Avocados, onion, black beans, green-chile sauce, and a homemade grain-free tortilla recipe to go along with it for those who are eating gluten-free. Yes yes.
  • Vegan Avocado Quesadillas from The Garden Grazer – Super simple yet creamy-dreamy good.
  • Quickie Cheeseless Quesadillas from Happy Healthy Life – More avocado plus mashed beans help ensure you’ll never give cheese a second thought.
  • Black Bean Cashew Cheese Quesadillas from Earthgiven Kitchen – Cashew cheese and Daiya shreds both lend cheesy goodness.

Queso/Cheese Dip

Velvet Vegan Cheese Sauce

Cheese dip – one of life’s most divine foodstuffs. This is a tough one to give up.

We’ve got a few plant-based alternatives, though. Pureed veggies with lemon juice, garlic, and other flavorings can fit the bill surprisingly well. There are also cashew-based recipes out there, too.

Recipes to try:

  • Velvet Vegan Cheese Sauce from Namely Marly – This dairy-free queso reminds the author of American cheese, but it has two surprisingly healthy ingredients thrown into the mix, pumpkin and chickpeas! Some store-bought shreds seal the deal in this recipe.
  • Vegan Butternut Queso from The First Mess – A seriously swoon-worthy imitation of the real thing.
  • Nacho Sweet Potato Cheese from Connoisseurus Veg – An excellent rendition of nacho cheese, with the color to match the flavor!
  • Cashew Queso from The Post Punk Kitchen – Cashews and miso make a darn tasty combo.
  • Vegan Mexican Cheese 3 Ways from Minimalist Baker – Three different ways to get your queso fix, dairy-free. Can’t beat it.

Pesto

My Very Favorite Vegan Pesto

Okay, so pesto isn’t necessarily a “cheesy” food but the traditional stuff usually contains a good dose of Parmesan. But I’ve found that either leaving the cheese out completely or adding in a bit of nutritional yeast and lemon juice yields a glorious pesto. The parm is an afterthought!

Recipes to try:

  • My Very Favorite Vegan Pesto Recipe – A versatile, vibrant pesto that proves no parm is needed.
  • Dairy-Free Basil Pesto from Overtime Cook – Another great dairy-free pesto option.
  • Grilled Summer Vegetable Sandwiches with Pesto – A creamy vegan pesto brings these veggie sandwiches to life.
  • Vegan Pesto Parmesan Breadsticks from Minimalist Baker – We’ve got vegan pesto and vegan parm for these bad boys, and I’m not sure I’d have it any other way.

Cheesecake

Yup. No dairy = no cream cheese = no cheesecake = waaahhh.

Some tasty no-dairy cheesecakes are out there, though. Most make use of either cashews or tofu, and they’re really decadent and delicious!

Recipes to try:

  • No-Bake Vegan Cheesecake from The Roasted Root – Creamy, dreamy, and cashew-based. And when covered in figs and honey … drool.
  • Raw Blueberry Cheesecak from Go Dairy Free – From the almond-date crust to the creamy cashew filling to the blueberry topping, this one is definitely special-occasion worthy.
  • Dairy-Free Coconut Cheesecake from Jamie Oliver – Cashews + coconut + dates = yes please.
  • Vegan Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake from Minimalist Baker – Firm silken tofu gives this autumnal cheesecake its creamy lusciousness.

The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese

Nutritional yeast is key, in addition to the grated potato. It offers some cheesy flavor and color. Frontier Co-Op just started offering it in smaller bottles, and after using it in this recipe, I really believe their product is superior. It has less funk than the regular store-bought brand, so if you haven’t enjoyed nutritional yeast in the past, please give it a shot.

I kept tweaking the amounts and spices until we had just the right amount of sauce for one-half pound of pasta. I’ve finally nailed it. Don’t be intimidated by the ingredients list—it’s all basic pantry ingredients!

I couldn’t help but incorporate some broccoli for some extra flavor, color and health benefits. Keep it or leave it out—I’ve included guidance for either option in the recipe below.

Vegans, dairy-free friends, and cheese lovers who crave a more redeeming mac and cheese recipe, this recipe is for you. (And for those who also appreciate traditional, cheesy mac and cheese recipes, you don’t want to miss my new stovetop mac and cheese recipe.)

Please let me know how you like this recipe in the comments! If you’re transitioning to vegan or dairy-free recipes, don’t miss my vegan sour cream and vegan Parmesan.


British Cheese Weekender 2021Save the date! 23-25 April

The programme of talks and speakers is now live on the What’s On page, along with information on the best places to buy cheese and any related offers. What a line up! There will be chef demos from Tommy Banks, Simon Rogan, Mark Hix & James Golding, farm and dairy tours, cheese masterclasses from our experts, pairings with wines, whisky, Peters Yard crisprbreads, Opies pickles and Tracklements relishes. Sign up for updates and the latest British Cheese Weekender news

Take a cheese road trip

Launched last year in response to the crisis facing the country’s specialist cheesemakers when the Pandemic struck, the British Cheese Weekender returns in April with three days of free online cheese events aimed at celebrating and supporting this fragile sector. Be transported around the country, from fields and farms to dairies and maturing rooms, as well as cheesemongers’ counters and the kitchens of top chefs. All you have to do is buy British artisan cheese, tune in and taste along.

Support specialist cheesemakers

It’s been a roller-coaster year for Britain’s artisan cheesemakers, who faced disaster when Coronavirus hit last year and devastated sales. The British Cheese Weekender was set up in response to the crisis and was part of a groundswell of support to Save British Cheese. Thanks to these efforts, and the creativity and skill of the cheesemakers themselves, most have pulled through, but they still face huge challenges.


Overeating cheese can lead to heartburn

According to the American College of Gastroenterology, more than 60 million Americans get heartburn at least once per month. Frequent heartburn may be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can have serious consequences — like esophageal cancer — if left untreated.

Johns Hopkins Medicine noted that cheese is a food that can often cause heartburn. This may be because eating cheese triggers the release of a hormone called cholecystokinin. When we eat foods containing fat and protein (both of which are found in cheese), cells in the small intestine secrete cholecystokinin. This messenger signals the pancreas to release digestive enzymes and the liver to release bile, both of which help break down the fat and protein.

Research published in the journal Gut found that high levels of cholecystokinin caused the lower esophageal sphincter (LOS) to relax, making it easier for stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn.


Selecting the best cheese for a kidney diet

Cheese is a featured ingredient in this month’s DaVita recipe collection, Kidney-Friendly Cheesy Appetizers. Almost everyone likes cheese, but kidney patients are told to limit or even avoid it due to the phosphorus content. In addition, some cheeses are quite high in sodium.

Not all cheeses are created equal. Phosphorus ranges from 20 mg to 380 mg per ounce, based on the kind of cheese, whether it is regular versus low-fat or fat-free, and the manufacturer. In general, processed cheeses and hard cheeses are higher in phosphorus, natural cheeses are lower, and soft cheeses are lowest in phosphorus. Manufacturers are not required to list phosphorus on the label, but you can find it in nutrition analysis books, software programs or online food analyzers. The USDA National Nutrient Database is available for anyone to download and use at no charge. The Nutrition Log in DaVita Diet Helper is also a great resource for checking the nutrients in different cheeses.

Sodium content of cheese varies from 5 mg to over 500 mg per ounce, with low-sodium cheese, brie, cream cheese, ricotta, natural cheddar and natural Swiss cheese in the 0 to 200 mg range. Higher sodium cheeses include processed cheese, blue cheese, feta, most hard cheese and soy cheese. Sodium is always available on the nutrition label, so you can compare brands to select the product lowest in sodium. If you buy a higher sodium cheese, choose a strong flavored variety like extra sharp cheddar, feta or blue cheese and use only a small amount.

Potassium content is generally low in most cheeses, ranging from 5 to 100 mg per ounce. There are a few exceptions, such as low-sodium cheese with added potassium chloride. Always check the ingredients and avoid cheese with potassium chloride if you are on a low potassium diet. Protein in cheese varies from 1 to 2 grams per ounce in cream cheese and 6 to 9 grams per ounce in most other cheeses.

Most renal dietitians will agree 1 to 2 ounces of cheese can be included in a low phosphorus diet one or two times a week as long as your phosphorus level is normal and if needed, phosphate binders are adjusted to bind the extra phosphorus consumed. Be aware cheese also contains fat and cholesterol, so it’s best stay within the recommended portion.

My favorite cheese appetizer from the DaVita recipe collection mentioned above is the Holiday Cheese Ball—easy to make and goes great with thin slices of apple, pear or low-sodium crackers. Be sure to check out the other cheesy appetizers that are low in phosphorus and a safe choice for your kidney diet this season.

Kidney diet resources from DaVita.com

Sara Colman, RD, CDE

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 20 years experience working with people with diabetes and kidney disease. She is co-author of the popular kidney cookbook "Cooking for David: A Culinary Dialysis Cookbook". Sara is currently the Manager of Kidney Care Nutrition for DaVita. She analyzes recipes and creates content, resources and tools for the kidney community. In her spare time Sara loves to spend time with her young grandson, including fun times together in her kitchen.


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Lawsuit Claims Bagel Bites Don't Contain Enough 'Real' Cheese or Tomato Sauce

The plaintiff takes issue with the addition of fillers and thickeners. Kraft Heinz says the complaint is without merit.

Bagel Bites are inherently appealing: What&aposs not to love about tiny pizzas made out of miniature bagels? Granted, any time you throw a box of self-proclaimed frozen "pizza snacks" in the oven, you probably aren&apost expecting a gourmet meal. Still, a recent lawsuit alleges that Bagel Bites don&apost even live up to the billings on the box, misleading customers by claiming that their tiny pizzas are made with "real" mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce.

A lawsuit filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin argues that consumers are being deceived by statements on Bagel Bites&apos packaging because "the Product does not contain &aposreal&apos mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce, as these foods are understood and expected by consumers." Specifically, the complaint hinges on the use of fillers and thickeners by the Kraft Heinz Foods Company, which makes Bagel Bites and is named as the defendant.

For the cheese complaint, the filing states that Bagel Bites are topped with𠅊s listed in the ingredients—"a &aposCheese Blend&apos that contains &apospart-skim mozzarella cheese&apos and &aposmodified food starch.&apos" The suit claims that "no &aposblend&apos of cheese, especially &aposREAL&apos mozzarella cheese, contains added starch," later adding that it is "misleading to add filler ingredients to &aposcheese&apos and still call the product cheese."

Similarly, for the tomato sauce, the suit states that cornstarch and methylcellulose are added, allowing Kraft Heinz to "reduce the amount of tomatoes used by thirty-five percent," later suggesting that reasonable consumers "expect a product claiming to contain &aposTomato Sauce&apos will only contain tomato ingredients and seasonings instead of thickeners."

The lawsuit concludes, "The name, &aposMini Bagels with Mozzarella Cheese and Tomato Sauce,&apos is deceptive because mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce, as these terms are understood by consumers and regulations, are not present in the Product or are present in an amount less than expected." The filing then claims that this allowed the product to be "sold at a premium price" and if consumers has "known the truth, they would not have bought the Product or would have paid less for it."

The suit seeks class action status, injunctive relief to correct the alleged issues with Bagel Bites, and monetary damages as well as court costs.

"Bagel Bites, the perfect bite-sized pizza snack, are made with delicious, high-quality ingredients that our fans know and love," A Kraft Heinz spokesperson told Food & Wine via email when reached for comment. "We proudly stand by the food we make, and are focused on bringing great products to market. The lawsuit lacks any merit, and we will strongly defend our brand."

Interestingly, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the plaintiff filed a very similar suit in New York earlier this year however, the attorney withdrew that suit, instead deciding to file a new claim in Wisconsin because of the important role cheese𠅊nd specifically mozzarella—plays in the state. The Sentinel adds that, in the previous New York case, Kraft Heinz argued that using some real mozzarella in a cheese blend still qualified the claim of the being made using "real" mozzarella.


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