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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Goat cheese on my salad makes me happy!

This title only works if you sing it to the tune of the John Denver song. If you don't know which song I mean, here's a link.

Now everyone!

Goat cheese....on my salad....makes me happy!

I've been singing this for about a week now. Out loud. I can't get it out of my head. Keith just stares at me. Maybe it's because he doesn't care for goat cheese. Or maybe it's because he thinks I'm nuts.

Lest you also think I'm losing it (lost it), let me explain. For me, a little sprinkling of crumbled goat cheese (chèvre) can take an ordinary dish (salad, chicken, veggies) to the level of close-my-eyes-on-first-bite delicious. I love it that much. If I see it in a dish at a restaurant, I order it...often without even caring what the goat cheese is on top of.

Here's what I love about it (besides the yumminess, of course). Goat cheese is strong-flavored, so a little goes a long way. Don't get me wrong, cheese is by no means a low-calorie diet food. However, it follows the theory in my "umami" post about how strong flavors in small amounts can transform food with little caloric impact -- you can take a bland chicken breast, for instance, add a tablespoon or two of chopped umami-rich calamata olives, and you'll have a flavor explosion. Don't even get me started on calamata olives coupled with goat cheese. Bliss. Anyway, my point is that 1/2 an ounce of goat cheese (about 2 tablespoons, if you're using crumbles) only has 38 calories. This is all you need to sprinkle a single portion of salad, chicken, whatever. If you're like Keith and goat cheese isn't your thing, you can choose 1/2 ounce of any strong-flavored cheese for the same calorie range (1/2 oz of blue cheese crumbles clocks in at 50 calories, feta at 38, and Parmigiano Reggiano at about 40).

By the way, I highly recommend you pick up an inexpensive food scale (mine is plastic and was $5 at the grocery store), as many nutrition labels list portion size in ounces. Then you never have to guess! Once you get a food scale, you'll see what an actual portion should look like. You'll be shocked at first, but you'll get used to it and you'll still have plenty to eat. I promise. But that's a post for another day.

Goat cheese...on my salad...makes me happy!
Goat cheese...in my eyes...can make me cry!

...wait...that doesn't make sense. Catchy, though, isn't it?

So buy some goat cheese crumbles. Or blue cheese. Or feta. Or whatever strong-flavored crumbled or shredded cheese you like. Try it on your chicken, in your salads, in an egg white omelet, or over grilled sirloin -- just watch the amount you're using (like I said, a little goes a long way). You'll turn boring same-old entrees into fancy, flavorful fare. Let me know what you think and what flavor combination you come up with! And I apologize in advance if this goat cheese song is stuck in your head all week.

The Svelte Gourmet: A Month of Main Courses cookbook is available at www.thesveltegourmet.com/products.html. Enjoy!


Alliahi said...

SO true! Since I read your blog way back about using vinegar for dressing and adding a small amount of real cheese, I have been using balsamic and usually blue cheese. Do not miss the blue cheese dressing, or the calories at all! THANK YOU for that! Truly, a small amount is all you need and it is delicious! I have been eating a salad like that before dinner most nights for close to a year now I think. LOVE it! You have great, useful, and practical tips. Thanks again, Jenny:-)

The Svelte Gourmet said...

Fantastic! I'm thrilled that you like my tips and tricks -- and I bet you eat a ton fewer calories by filling up on a light salad before the main course. Thanks for reading!

Alliah said...

I have lost over 30 pounds in the last year or so without dieting. This trick has helped. Sometimes things people say just hit you in a profound way. Your blog has helped me a great deal to get off of the lifetime dieting rollercoaster. No scales, so diet, just making these little changes and a bit mroe exercise. I only know the # from dr. visits;-) You have the right idea and I am grateful that you have shared your thoughts.

The Svelte Gourmet said...

That's wonderful -- an exactly how it should work! Congratulations! It's a lot more fun than dieting and starving, isn't it?