A Nutty Approach to Low-Fat Cheese
I had never envisioned myself blending blanched almonds with olive oil, garlic, salt, lemon juice and water in the hope of producing something I could spread on a cracker.
But that's just what I found myself doing yesterday, following a recipe in the April issue of Vegetarian Times for almond feta cheese with herb oil. It's a recipe I'd ignored altogether when the magazine was first delivered. Why, I wondered then, would I want to make cheese out of almonds?
But as I write in this week's "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column, my recent--and unaccountably belated--realization that the saturated fat in cheese is just as bad for you as the saturated fat in meat has me rethinking my relationship with my favorite of all foods. It's high time I cut back on my full-fat cheese consumption, finding ways to eat less (sprinkling some shavings or crumbles over a salad instead of gnawing at a hunk of parmesan) and, when possible, to substitute cheese that contains less fat.
I'm not alone in finding that many of the low- and reduced-fat varieties of my favorite natural cheeses lack taste and texture. (Even Gregory Miller, a spokesperson for the National Dairy Council, said as much when I interviewed him for the column.)
So I'm thinking I'll skimp on cheese quantities but stick with the quality. In the meantime, I'm keeping an eye out for lower-fat cheeses that actually taste good.
I have high hopes for this almond cheese.
I started crafting my cheese too late in the day to include a photo here of how it turned out. I'll post an update later in the day and give you a full report. But here are some pix that show the process, which starts with soaking blanched almonds in water for 24 hours. Then you drain and rinse the nuts, blend them with the ingredients listed above, spoon the mixture into cheesecloth, tie it off and let it sit in a colander over a bowl in the fridge for 12 hours. You can either eat the cheese the way it is or bake it and drizzle it with herb-infused oil.
This almond feta has no cholesterol and just 2 grams of saturated fat per serving. It even has a couple of grams of fiber (from the almonds), something you won't find in most cheeses. (UPDATE: It's a bit caloric, at 170 calories per one-ounce serving--one-tenth of the recipe--but that includes the oil drizzled over the baked version.)
Check back later today for an updated cheese bulletin!
Jennifer LaRue Huget
October 13, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
| Tags: how to make cheese from almonds, vegetarian low-fat cheese
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