This blog features news on local food finds, tales from home cooks and inspiration to help you have fun in your own kitchen.
Can’t see the menu for the cheese
While I was on maternity leave, I read a great story in The New York Times about how a subsidiary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been helping restaurant chains like Domino’s Pizza to pump ever-increasing amounts of cheese into its products, at the same time the government is telling us all to cut back on saturated fats.
I love cheese. My husband sometimes complains that our fridge is too full of packets of shredded cheese because I purchase them compulsively, always fearing I’ll run out just as I desperately need to top a pizza or fill a quesadilla.
Lately I’ve had my own personal reality check. My five-month-old daughter can’t tolerate milk proteins, so since I’m nursing her, I need to stay off dairy completely.
That news came right before Christmas, so I had the chance to come to terms with just how much of our holiday eating revolves around butter and cheese. Going out to eat can be an obstacle course. At lunch at a downtown Fredericksburg restaurant last week, I had to mentally cross off just about every item on the menu before the second-to-last offering on the list gave me a cheese-free option.
Sometimes fatty (and delicious) ingredients like cheese and butter can be crutches in our cooking, providing the easy way out when in fact there are a lot of other options for adding flavor. Here are some dishes my husband and I have both enjoyed during my dairy sabbatical (or at least, my husband is kind enough to say he has enjoyed them).
If you’re trying to make over your diet this January and a break from cheese and butter will help you with that, may these suggestions inspire you.
Mustard roasted chicken with vegetables. I added a little sherry, Dijon mustard and garlic to the marinade and threw some sweet potatoes in with the vegetables. This is an easy, comforting meal for a winter night.
Beef stir-fry with snap peas. Stir fries have been a go-to meal during my dairy-free days. I bought a cheap rice cooker about a year ago that makes it even easier to get this on the table over brown rice.
This week’s challenge: Cheese-free pizza, to make use of the lonely ball of dough that’s been sitting in my freezer ever since the doctor called off dairy. I’ll let you know how that one goes.