How to Celebrate the Hot Commodity: Cheese

Original Image by Jules Morgan via Flickr
Original Image by Jules Morgan via Flickr 

By: Nikki Nies

While the oldest record of cheese making was ~7500 years ago in an ancient cattle rearing town in present day Poland, with the help of the master cheese makers, the Romans, the spread of cheesemaking quickly permeated Europe under the watchful eye of monks.  Legend has it that like many great creations, the creation of cheese was sheer coincidence, when an Arabian merchant had stored his milk in a sheep’s stomach and then days later found the milk had separates into curds and whey.

Nowadays, the U.S. is the largest producer of cheese, producing >30% of world’s cheese. Yet, with such wealth of cheese, 4% of the world’s cheese is stolen annually, making cheese the #1 stolen food on Earth.

Original Image by wisconsincheese via Tumblr
Original Image by wisconsincheese via Tumblr

With over 1400 varieties of cheese around the world, below are some suggestions how to best celebrate 1/20 Cheese Lover’s Day:

  • Join Green Bay Packers football team in Wisconsin, USA, who wear yellow, wedge shaped hats
  • Search for tastings, cheese rolling, special restaurant menus, costume parties and/or cheese fondue parties near you. Personally, I’ll be checking out Scardello, a cheese shop that also doubles as a wine shop. Cheese mongers help pick out cheeses ranging from Roquefort to Stilton.
  • Eat a classic grilled cheese!
  • Learn about the different textures of cheeses, with the main varieties including:  fresh cheese (ricotta); soft cheese (feta); semi-soft cheese (Fontina); semi-hard cheese (Gouda); hard cheese (Cheddar); double or triple crème cheese (Brillat-Savarin); blue cheese (Gorgonzola); washed rind cheese (Limburger); and bloomy rind cheese (Brie). This statement comes from the Dallas Observer.
  • Visit the Vermont Cheese Council’s Vermont Cheese Trail, which has 40+ farms and creameries that specialize in producing 150+ cheeses from cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk. Learn more at Travel Channel 
  • Use 1 or all 5  favorite cheeses in America: cheddar, burrata, gouda, feta and mozzarella in tonight’s dinner (e.g. mac & cheese, fondue, pizza, lasagna, omelettes, quiches, casseroles or simply as is!)
  • Celebrate locally produced cheese by checking out the American Cheese Society’s list of local cheese companies.

Are you as surprised as I am that there are so many varieties of cheese from such simple ingredients? Yes, all cheese derives from curds, which are the bits of protein that is produced from soured milk, yet, variations in cultures and the addition of flavors (eg. added spices and mold) aids in the transformation of cheese from a simple combination of dairy and acid into many celebrating cheese on Cheese Lover’s Day!

Many wine connoisseurs have their favorite wine and cheese pairings. Do you have a go to pairing? What’s your favorite way to eat and/or use cheese? If you’re curious the origin of cheese from around the world? Check out this interactive map that shows exactly where cheese comes from!


Lacto Ovo vegeterians

Original Image by Meal Makeover Moms via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies


Lacto vegetarian (sometimes referred to as a lactarian; from the Latin root lact-, milk) diet is a vegetarian diet that includes dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, ghee, cream, and kefir, but excludes eggs. Furthermore, this term is used to describe a vegetarian who does not eat eggs, but does eat dairy products. Many Hindu vegetarians are lacto-vegetarians who avoid eggs for religious reasons while continuing to eat dairy. The prefix “lacto” comes from the Latin word for milk

Some vegetarians eat a wide variety of foods that may include fish, eggs and even meat-based broths. Others are stricter and eat no animal products whatsoever, including honey and gelatin. Lacto vegetarians fall in the middle of the spectrum. They eat milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products, but they do not eat eggs or fish

The term “lacto vegetarian” comes from the Latin word lactis, meaning milk. Historically, many lacto vegetarians have followed religions that are widespread in the Far East, such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism, which incorporate nonviolence and respect for animals into their belief systems. In addition to avoiding meat, most lacto vegetarians avoid eggs because they are undeveloped embryos. A lacto-ovo vegetarian eats both eggs and dairy products.

Eating dairy products is the main factor that distinguishes lacto vegetarians from vegans. Lacto vegetarians eat milk and milk products, yogurt, cheese, butter and cream. However, they do not eat dairy products made with gelatin, such as some puddings and custards, because most gelatin contains pulverized animal hooves, bones or marrow. Lacto vegetarians also avoid dairy products containing animal-based rennet, a collection of enzymes that cheese-makers normally get from calves.

Additional foods that do not contain animal products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains and plant-based proteins, make up the rest of a lacto vegetarian diet. Examples include citrus fruits, berries, root vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, wheat products, oats, corn, beans, legumes and soy products. According to the USDA, a lacto vegetarian diet that is balanced among all of those foods plus dairy items can help reduce risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other health problems.

Menu Plan

A lacto vegetarian menu plan can look a lot like a plan for a traditional vegetarian, but without the eggs. A sample breakfast might be oatmeal with milk and berries, a yogurt and granola parfait or a tofu vegetable scramble. Lacto vegetarian lunch options include a green salad with a side of tofu and fruit, meat-free chili or pasta with vegetables and olive oil. For dinner, lacto vegetarians might have a bean burrito, lentil soup with bread and salad or a vegetable curry with rice.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians may have higher blood cholesterol levels because of the eggs they eat, so choosing to follow a lacto vegetarian diet may improve heart health and encourage weight loss or healthy weight maintenance. According to a 2004 study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” self-identified lacto vegetarian women have a lower risk of overweight and obesity than women who eat meat. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic reports that all vegetarians tend to weigh less and consume fewer calories and fat grams than meat eaters.


Cucumbers and Tomatoes with Parmesan Dressing


  • 3 cucumbers
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  1. Whisk together oil, vinegar, cheese and pepper
  2. Peel and slice cucumbers
  3. Peel and wash tomatoes
  4. Pour dressing over cucumbers and tomatoes

Review: Cabot Cheese

By: Nikki NiesCabot_Logo 2
Disclosure Agreement: Cabot provided me with coupons for free cheese to try. We Dish Nutrition tested each product thoroughly and gives high marks to only the very best. Opinions expressed at We Dish Nutrition are our own.
Milk, eggs and bread seem to be the storm staples whenever we’re told there is an impending hurricane, earthquake or snowstorm. While those three items can last a family of four enough time for a natural disaster to pass through, I’m an advocate for adding cheese to that list! While eggs are a great source of protein, adding cheese to any meal or snack elevates the flavors in a whole other level! Don’t you agree?
With more than 1,200 dairy farm families planted throughout New England and over 1,000 employees, Cabot Cheese would be ready and eager to handle such disasters.  Cabot has been partnered with Vermont’s Dakin Farm for ease and convenience, with consumers able to order online.  The decisions don’t end there! Cabot cheese products come in bar, slices and shredded form, ready to meet your cooking and snacking needs! Yet, Cabot cows are kept busy, also used to make cottage cheese, butter, yogurt, whipped cream, sour cream, cream cheese and dips!
I expect no less from Cabot Farm, providing a variety of flavors and mixtures to its consumers. While I can’t get enough of Cabot’s Muenster cheese, I have put that aside for today to make some lasagna! I decided to shred some of my own Sharp Light Cheddar for today’s meal. I’m impressed with Cabot’s line of “Light cheeses” and with the help of Regan Jones, RD and Sara Wing, RD, Cabot’s present and future products are in good hands!
1517709_658815820834694_205711366_nAt only 70 calories per one ounce serving, the Sharp Light Cheddar cheese has only 170 mg of sodium and 4.5 g of fat. Yet, the light cheddar’s flavor, thankfully, hasn’t been compromised.  It still contains the expectant savory feel of the regular line of cheese, but without the unnecessary fat!  As someone who’s always experimenting with new recipes and ways of making foods healthier, I used sliced zucchini instead of traditional lasagna noodles to add in more vegetables. The mixture of Cabot cheese and tomato juices added the necessary punch!
While making lasagna can be time consuming, Cabot has thoroughly provided its consumers with more recipes than one could hope! If you’re in a bind, check out their solutions for 2-Day Suppers, which promotes the use of leftovers as a means get easy family friendly meals on  the table! I’ve been having a ball roasting cauliflower for meals, so I can’t wait to try out more of Cabot’s Roasting Veggie recipes!
To be frank, I don’t want to overwhelm you with all the resources Cabot has provided its consumers, but when you have the chance, check it all out! Cabot hasn’t missed a beat! Make sure to use their handy guide on how to use Greek yogurt in replacement of sour cream and/or cream cheese, 5 Day Planners, how to add Health Kitchen Helper(s), in the form of your kids and the Brown Bag Builder, providing a step by step guide on how to pack a healthy, delicious lunch! For the lactose intolerance, don’t worry! Cabot’s naturally aged cheese has 0 grams of lactose and shouldn’t cause any lactose intolerance symptoms and/or discomfort.
In addition, as a cooperative, Cabot is owned and operated by its members-the family dairy farmers who are the source of Cabot’s dairy products. Cabot reinforces their business philosophy with a Co-op to Co-op Program. Not only does Cabot providing samples of their “World’s Best” cheddar, gift boxes and coupons, but they’re always eager to share the love of cheese with you! Learn how to participate in their cooperative extension today!
What’s your favorite way to enjoy Cabot cheese? Have you had your cheese allotment for the day yet?

Photo Credit:Cabot Cheese

Cauliflower Pizza Dough

IMG_3639By: Nikki Nies

I’ve written several times before how I enjoy cooking for my friends. This includes catering to their food and diet needs. I’ve been gleefully challenged by the need to make gluten free pasta, bread and most recently pizza! As we all know, for those with gluten intolerances or sensitivities, it can be a headache trying to find foods to eat.

Thankfully, this is where cauliflower can enter the picture. As a low calorie, versatile vegetable, cauliflower is a great substitute for flour! You don’t have to be gluten free to enjoy cauliflower pizza crust, if you run out of flour for home made pizza dough, homemade cauliflower pizza dough is a great alternative! Since cauliflower lacks much flavor, it absorbs the flavors that are combined with it, so add on the veggie  toppings!

My initial try at cauliflower pizza crust didn’t turn out so well! While I intended to make pizza, the concoction came out more like a casserole-not taking too much shape. Yet, my friend, Kaitlyn Brown and her family came to the rescue, experimenting with the cauliflower pizza dough idea and they’ve graciously shared their recipe with me.

Ingredients: IMG_7200

  • 1 pound cauliflower florets, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • seasoning either parmesan and/or mozzarella cheese. You can use broccoli with the cauliflower to give it more taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Meanwhile chop up cauliflower until finely chopped. Place chopped cauliflower in microwave for 5 minutes or until tender.
  2. Place cauliflower in towel and squeeze out excess water so it is completely dry. In a bowl, mix egg and cauliflower until well combined. This is when you can add additional seasonings to pizza, such as parmesan cheese
  3. Once mixed, line pizza pan or baking sheet and spread cauliflower dough until it resembles a pizza round. Bake 40 minutes.
  4. Once “cauliflower” is done, top with sauce and other toppings, cook 7 more minutes until cheese and toppings have melted.

Recipe adapted from Emily Brown

I can understand why you would shy away from the concept of cauliflower in your pizza. I, myself, probably wouldn’t have tried it either if it weren’t for my friend that is gluten free, but it’s delicious and packed with an extra serving of vegetables! In addition, it’s a great twist on a family favorite! Get your kids, husband or wife in the kitchen with you and share toppings all around! Enjoy!

Cincinatti Chili

By: Nikki Nies CincinnitiChili3

Growing up with parents that originated from Ohio, the thought of chili was always quickly associated with Skyline Chili and/or Cincinnati and rightfully so! Since I grew up eating this type of chili, I didn’t know better that this wasn’t a “typical” chili.

Compared to the more popular Texan chili, Cincinnati chili has a thinner consistency and is made with cinnamon, chocolate or cocoa, allspice and Worcestershire sauce! Yes, you heard me, those spices are in this reknowned chili!

Cincinnati Chili Sauce Recipe 


  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • 1 quart water
  • 2 medium onions, finely grated
  • 16 ounces tomato sauce
  • 5 whole allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 4 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 ounce (1 square) unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 whole large bay leaf
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

In 4 quart saucepan, add ground beef to water; stir until beef separates to a fine texture.  Boil slowly for half an hour.  Add all other ingredients.  Stir to blend, bringing up to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 3 hours.  Chili should be refrigerated overnight so that the fat can be skimmed from top before reheating.

Recipe adapted from local newspaper in Cincinnati area

Make sure to boil some spaghetti and decide which “way” you want to eat your chili! SM0507_cincinnati-chili_s4x3

Two way: serving of drained spaghetti and sauce

Three way: serving of drained spaghetti, sauce and handful of shredded cheddar cheese

Four way: serving of drained spaghetti, sauce, large spoonful of kidney beans or kidney beans and handful of shredded cheddar cheese

Five way: serving of drained spaghetti, sauce, large spoonful of kidney beans or refried beans, large spoonful of chopped onions and handful of shredded cheddar cheese

**Additionally, oyster crackers accompany the meal**

This twist on the classic chili still packs a great amount of protein, fiber, B vitamins and iron! For those that have had Cincinnati chili before, what’s your favorite “way?” For me, I’m all about the four way, so next time you’re making some Cincinnati chili, make sure to call me up, I’ll bring my own fork!

Photo Credit: What’s Cooking America and Food Network

Guilt Free Cheese Plate

Thanks Hungry Girl’s, Lisa Lillien for sharing guilt free cheese tips!


The Tomato Code

The Tomato Code

Originally in Weight Watchers

Post Workout Recovery Needs

By: Nikki Nies 1390487_10152315919883989_1630683936_n Part of my internship includes providing nutrition counseling to a particular Benedictine sport’s team.  I was luckily enough to get assigned to work with the men’s track team. Prior to starting work with the team, we were warned by the outgoing interns that a lot of the sports coaches weren’t responsive to the services that we had to offer. Yet, as I said, I lucked out as the track coach not only acknowledges the role nutrition plays in his athletes performance, but has actively sought information.  It’s been great to work with my co-manager, Amanda, as we’ve gotten to know the athletes better and be able to cater to their needs. Although, school’s currently out of session, the coach recently inquired out post recovery items that he could purchase for his team.  Obviously, nutrient value and cost were at the top of his list in regards to how to prioritize the different bars and supplements. All the products listed below have been approved by the NCAA for use.

Product Price Nutrient Content Serving
Myoplex Chocolate Milk 4 pack/$8.29 atWalgreens4 pack/$7.99 at drugstore.com24 pack/$46.26 at 20 g of protein; 20 g of carb 1-11 fluid oz. bottle
Carnation Instant Breakfast 10 pack/$4.24 atWalmart22 pack/$14.99 on candyland 10 g of protein; 41 g of protein 1-8 fluid oz bottle
Muscle Milk Powder Mix 5.29#/$24.96 2 scoops=20 g protein; 45 g of carb4 scoops: 40 g protein; 91 g of carb
Muscle Milk 4 pack/$10.89; $2.72/bottle12 pack/$30.99; 24 pack/$43.97  18 g of protein; 27 g of carb 11 fluid oz.
Clif Bars 12 count box/$13.49 at vitacost.com12 count box/$12.99 at 9 g of protein and 44 g of carbs
Gatorade G Series Recover 4 pack/$12.99 at 12 case/$60.95 20 g of protein; 45 g of carb 11.16 oz.
Gatorade 03 Recover 12 pack/$24.49  Kiwi Strawberry: 8 g of protein; 7 gofcarbTropical Orange: 8 g of protein; 20 g of carbMixed Berry: 8 g of protein; 7 g of carb 8 fluid oz.
Gatorade  Endurance Carb Energy Drink 20 pack/$45.80 10 pack/$25.50 at Niagara Cycle Works 30 g of carb; 0 g of protein 1 pouch

Protein provides the building blocks, but carbs provide the energy to do the rebuilding. It’s implied protein alone will end up being partly burned to provide energy, which could be true based on when athletes have eaten last.  A product is considered adequate for the team, if it’s got a good mixture of protein to carb ratio (3-4 carbohydrates :1 Protein). Additionally, to keep costs down, there are some great foods that can be incorporated into one’s diet as well!

  • Chocolate milk Darigold Refuel with Choc Milk Refuel stamp
  • Sandwich with 2 slices of bread and 1-2 oz. of meat or cheese and some lettuce
  • Greek yogurt and a banana
  • Grilled chicken sandwich
  • Smoothies–i.e. mix of OJ and vanilla protein powder

For the shorter, easier work out, it’s suggested to use products that provide ~30 g of carbs (i.e. Gatorade endurance carb energy drink).  For higher intensity workouts, ~60 g of carbs may fare better. For post strength-training, to increase protein to 20-30 grams (i.e. Myoplex chocolate milk; Gatorade G Series Recover). It’s hard to persuade anybody to use something with less than 20 grams of protein.  It’s also hoped they worked hard enough to need it!  There’s more muscle damage in strength training and there’s a lot of marketing around needing protein. A study led by Lynch et al., 2013 compared the use  of complex protein ready-to-drink beverage (VPX), with approximately a 1:4 CHO to PRO ratio and isocaloric carbohydrate beverage (iCHO) after a performance test.  Use of the VPX may provide a recovery advantage as it relates to repeated-bout performance compared to an iCHO-only beverage.

Additionally, a study by Ivy et al., 2002 looked at the glycogen content within the vastus lateralis pre-exercise and 4 hrs. post-exercise. They suggested the Cho:pro compared to carb only supplementation replenished glycogen stores more effectively, which is important to mitigate tissue damage, inflammatory markers, and upregulate the Akt/PKB pathway for MPS. For any gluten free needs, I had directed the coach to Harris Whole Health. I learned a lot about post work out products and options through this research.  I’m glad I was able to help the coach find some products that met the teams’ need.  Perhaps, you’ve walked away feeling informed too! Sources:

Meatless Proteins


By: Nikki Nies

With healthy eating constantly on the brain, it’s constant job to ensure balanced meals are consumed.  Meatless proteins aren’t for vegetarians and vegans any more, with more and more opting for meatless proteins.  Meatless proteins are often low fat, low calorie, with the added protein punch!

Meatless Protein Description Protein Amount per ½ cup How to Eat Tips
Quinoa Packed with fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and folate, low cholesterol; contains all essential amino acids 7 g Stir Fried Vegetables and Quinoa, Black Bean Quinoa Salad with Basil Lemon Dressing; Toasted Quinoa with Chiles and Corn Drain in a fine mesh strainer after cooking; add to soups, hot breakfast cereal or tossed with vegetables
Edamame Have as much fiber as 4 slices of wheat bread; great as an appetizer or within an entrée 8 g (shelled) Edamame with sesame, scallions and almonds; Roasted Edamame Steam instead of boil, which will preserve nutrients; can be served hot or cold
Chia seeds Great source of brain boosting omega 3 and fiber rich; contains great source of iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc; plump up and take on gelatinous texture when soaked in a  liquid 9.4 g in 2 tablespoons Mango Coconut Chia Pudding; Clementine Chia Pudding Use in jams, smoothies, oatmeal, salads, soups, etc.
Lentils Packed with B vitamins, folate, fiber, protein and are heart healthy 9 g Italian Lentil and Broccoli Stew Limit salting or using acidic items to lentils until cooked
Greek Yogurt Low in calories, protein packed; great substitution for sour cream or mayo; less sweet than some regular varieties 14.5 g Grilled Tropical Fruit with Greek Yogurt; Greek Yogurt with warm black and blueberry sauce Be wary of flavored containers that are packed with added sugar
Tempeh Soy bean based ingredient has great texture; firmer than traditional tofu 15.5 g Tempeh Burger; Miso glazed tofu On it’s own, tends to be quite bland, but is great with a marinade
Seitan Made from wheat gluten; has familiar texture of a piece of chicken or beef; brings out any flavors paired with it; looks like duck meat 21 g Mock Peking Duck; Seitan Stir Fry with Black Bean Garlic Sauce No need to add salt as many packaged varieties can have nearly 13% of daily intake
Peanut Butter Contains 2 g of fiber and heart healthy monounsaturated fats per serving 32.5 g Peanut Butter Banana Raisin Sandwich; Peanut Butter Caramel Corn Opt for reduced fat or natural peanut butter and “no stir” to limit messes
Chickpeas Aka garbanzo beans; fiber rich; can help cut LDL levels; low calorie 7 g Chickpea Stew with Eggplants, Tomatoes and Peppers; Cumin Spiced Chickpeas Look for chickpea flower, which is a great alternative to those that can’t eat gluten
Eggs When in moderation, can be great protein source; low in calories; may improve HDL levels 7 g/egg Baked Eggs with Cheese and Zucchini, omelettes, quiches, hard boiled, scrambled, sunny side up Choose cage free variety since they’re nutritionally superior and more humaneFound to have 2.5 times more omega 3 and twice amount of vitamin E in eggs of pasture raised hens
Cottage Cheese Affordable, can be eaten with reduced fat, calcium rich for bones, 13 g Combine with fresh veggies or with fruit and cinnamon Can be used as a replacement for ricotta cheese or sour cream in certain dishes
Pumpkin Seeds Great grab and go snack 7 g/1 oz. Pepita Corn Bread In fall, roast fresh seeds; be mindful of serving as seeds can be high in calories
Dried Black  Beans Low fat, fiber filled protein 6 g Cuban Black Bean Soup Opting for dry beans allows one to control sodium and additive intake; soak in large bowl overnight in water and rinse clean afterward, simmer on low heat and enjoy; make with cumin, garlic, red pepper, etc.
Soy Milk Convenient and versatile; often fortified with calcium and 4 g Espresso Soy Milk Shake Vanilla’s great in cereal and coffee; chocolate flavor’s great as a regular treat
Almonds Contains monounsaturated fats which are considered heart healthy 6 g/1 oz. Chili Spiced Almonds Sliced almonds are great over a salad