Nutritional Qualities of Cheese

While many people can be quick to think that any dairy product will be high in fat and calories, and thus should not be an essential aspect of a healthy diet, the truth is that it all really depends on which kinds of dairy you are consuming, as well as what kind of nutritional qualities are specifically right for you and your health needs. In this context, cheese can and should be a part of everyone’s diet, from crucial calcium, to a whole host of other nutritious vitamins, cheese has nutritional qualities that make it a perfect addition for any healthy diet.

Nutritional Breakdown

 

Calcium

First and foremost, cheese is an excellent source of calcium. A mineral that is considered necessary for a long and healthy life, calcium helps our bodies in a multitude of ways. The benefits associated with a diet rich in calcium include building strength in bones, helping blood clot normally, and even improving overall heart health. Since our bodies can not naturally replenish calcium in our bones, a diet including calcium-rich foods is imperative.

With this in mind, one of the best sources for calcium is dairy, especially cheese. Not only is cheese a great source of calcium, but compared to many other dairy products, there is a much greater variety of cheeses to choose from, so you should be able to find a type of cheese you truly enjoy. Typically, harder cheeses, such as cheddar and jack, tend to have a higher content of calcium, averaging around 200 mg per ounce, while cheeses that are considered to be softer, such as brie, will usually have a slightly lower content of calcium, averaging around 50-100 mg per ounce.

Since health and nutritional guidelines typically recommended a daily consumption of around 1000 mg of calcium, cheese is a perfect candidate to ensure you receive that recommended daily value of calcium, all the while enjoying the diversity of flavors and textures that you will find with cheese.

 

Other Important Minerals

Even though calcium is arguably the most important mineral found in cheese, other minerals in cheese also serve as essential nutrients for a healthy diet. Two of the main helpful minerals you will find in notable amounts in cheese are zinc and phosphorus.

Zinc is important for a healthy immune system, as well as helping the body heal wounds. Most cheeses have an average of 1 mg of zinc per ounce, making a small but helpful contribution to the recommended daily value of approximately 8 mg.

On the other hand, phosphorus works directly with calcium, building and strengthening your bones and teeth. Along with this, phosphorus plays an important role in maintaining healthy energy levels. With this in mind, cheese averages around 200-300 mg of phosphorus per ounce, which makes it a great source for the recommended daily intake of 700 mg.

 

Vitamins

Cheese is also a great source for a wide range of vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and vitamin D. While these vitamins will be found in varied levels depending on the specific cheese, they each serve an essential purpose in the healthy function of our bodies.

  • Vitamin A: important for vision, as well as maintaining healthy skin and bones
  • Vitamin B2: also known as riboflavin, important for body growth and energy levels
  • Vitamin B12: maintains a healthy metabolism and helps in the formation of red blood cells
  • Vitamin C: helps the immune system function properly and aids in the repair of tissue and wounds
  • Vitamin D: vital for the proper absorption of calcium and phosphorus

 

Potential Nutritional Risks

While it is clear that cheese can be an essential aspect of a healthy diet, offering a variety of nutrients that are required for healthy living, it also has nutritional qualities that can pose potential negative effects to one’s health.

If you are someone trying to lower your intake of calories, fat, or sodium, you might want to be a little more careful when deciding which cheese to add to your diet. However, despite the fact that some cheeses can be higher than desired in calories, fat, and sodium, there are also a lot of cheeses that can be found in “low” versions for each of these nutrients.

Along with this, since cheese is a dairy product, it can also contain varying levels of lactose. Lactose is a sugar found in milk that is typically broken down in our stomachs by the enzyme lactase; however, since some people do not naturally produce enough lactase to break down all of the lactose present in certain dairy products, digestive discomfort can end up resulting from consumption of dairy. Despite this, due to the process of making and aging cheese, much of the lactose is actually taken out. While this might be the case, different cheeses and cheese products will still have varying degrees of lactose, so make sure to check before you buy if you are someone who is sensitive to lactose.

 

Living a Healthy Life with Cheese

Regardless of potential downsides of eating too much cheese, it remains one of the best sources of calcium, which is an essential nutrient that most people do not get enough of. Along with this, the other vitamins and minerals found in cheese will help you live a healthier lifestyle and improve your overall well-being. At the same time, when it comes to dairy and the nutritional benefits it offers, cheese is without a doubt the most enjoyable way to gain these benefits, mostly due to the diversity of cheese types and products, as well as the versatility of using cheese as an ingredient in recipes.

Knife Skills, the Movie

Although the French culinary arts are considered to be incredibly refined and truly of the highest caliber, with many trainees taking years to master the skills, one thing is guaranteed when it comes to the French style of cooking and fine dining—if the passion to learn and practice is there, anyone can learn how to cook and share the French dining experience with the world.

 

Despite being filmed in America, this short documentary revolves around the beginnings of a classical French restaurant opening in Cleveland, Ohio, Edwins, which works hard to absolutely capture what French cuisine is all about. What makes this French restaurant so unique, is that it serves as an opportunity and school for recently released inmates, attempting to teach them the traditions of French cuisine and fine dining in a six month course. The film, titled Knife Skills, focuses on the first class taking on this challenge, with only six weeks until opening, these former inmates, who have never had any formal training in the French culinary arts, will be rigorously trained in all things French cuisine, from authentic French recipes, to the subtleties of French wine, French regional qualities, and even the diversity of French cheese. Together, the people who are featured in this documentary, who confront the challenge of redemption and the highly refined details of the French culinary art, produce a truly heartwarming story about the human ability to prove oneself against all odds, and prove oneself to be above the mistakes of the past.

 

Leading this absolutely remarkable journey, is a man who is an ex-inmate himself, Brandon works with a goal to recruit 80 formerly-incarcerated adults, with the help of a head chef, Gilbert. A good portion of the movie has a strong focus on the training that Gilbert delivers, where he is given the immense task of teaching 25 traditional French meals to a class of formerly-incarcerated men and women, from classic french meals such as Tarte de Lapin au Parmesan et jambon en croûte, which is a rabbit pie with a parmesan and prosciutto crust, to Paupiettes de poisson du jour, which is market fish wrapped in crispy potatoes with haricot verts and beurre rouge. Gilbert works hard to look past the fact that none of the men and women he is training have had any training at all; instead, he has the ability to truly believe in the men and women that he is teaching. As someone who comes from France, and knows that anyone has the ability to learn proper French cuisine, as long as they have the right training and true determination, Gilbert helps the men and women in this movie completely believe in themselves, and work towards a future in food, a future they can believe in. Along with the intense training in classical French cuisine, other members of Edwin’s first culinary class work hard to learn how to create a high-quality dining experience, which proves to create an interesting and emotional movie that any audience will truly enjoy.

 

Ultimately, when the movie was released, 180 formerly-incarcerated adults had made their way through the intensive rehabilitative program, and successfully graduated. With it, they received authentic training in classical French cuisine and hospitality service, which to many, became the greatest chance they received to turn their lives around. Thus, not only is Knife Skills an exploration into the extensive and detailed training that it takes to make it as a classical French restaurant, but it also serves as an incredible movie, showcasing the human experience, as men and women attempt to overcome life-altering mistakes, and save themselves through the French culinary arts.

French Dog Breeds

While France is typically known for its extraordinary cuisine, viticulture, and rich traditions, many people do not realize that some of the most popular dog breeds also originate in France. Therefore, in this post, we will discuss several French dog breeds, including their origins and characteristics. Many of them you probably have heard of, such as the French Bulldog, but we can guarantee there are some breeds you have not, and possibly, you just might find a new favorite by the end of this post!

 

French Bulldog

Let’s begin with arguably the most popular French breed, specifically because it has “French” in its name—the French Bulldog. Despite actually originating in England, the French Bulldog has historically acted as a companion dog for travelers heading to France from England. Due to this long history, the miniature sized bulldog began to take on the French name. Typically, French Bulldogs weigh approximately 15-30 pounds, and live 11-14 years. This adorable little puppy acts as the best snuggle buddy, and is the perfect size to take with you everywhere you go. However, the French Bulldog can also be hard to find, which can also make the French Bulldog a more expensive breed.

 

Barbet

Similar to the French Bulldog, the Barbet is also a relatively rare breed to find. With the shaggy, poodle-like hair, they are known to have a water-resistant coat and webbed feet, which has led to them being known as an amazing water retrieving dog. Along with this, the Barbet is also known to be incredibly smart and agile. Actually, they are especially famous in France for being great competitors in agility competitions. Due to their great water retrieving ability, the Barbet has been a common hunting dog in France, especially among French nobility. In fact, the name “Barbet” originates from the French term barbe, which means beard, referring specifically to the bearded look of the Barbet.

 

Brittany

As the name suggests, the Brittany originated in the northwestern region of France during the early 17th century. They were primarily bred as a hunting dog, specifically for bird hunting. Since these dogs were bred for sport, they tend to have a lot of energy, thus, regardless whether you will be bringing them for hunting activities, you will want to make sure this dog has plenty of exercise and physical activity. The Brittany dog breed also has a magnificent coat of white and orange, and is known to have a sweet and friendly temperament, making it a perfect family dog. At times, you might see people differentiate between American and French Brittanys, and while they are considered the same breed, there is typically considered a small difference, specifically that the American Brittany can sometimes be taller and faster than the French Brittany.

 

Pyrenean Mountain Dog

Also known as the Great Pyrenees, this dog’s origins begin in the Pyrenean Mountains in France, where it was bred to be a calm, affectionate protector dog for other animals and livestock. Known as one of the most loyal and loving dog breeds, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog also became a favorite among French and English nobility, even becoming an official court dog of France in the 1700s. In fact, Queen Victoria of England is known to have been a lover of the Great Pyrenees, consistently having one as a companion. As a big dog, typically reaching around 100 pounds or more, the Great Pyrenees has a thick, majestic white coat, but they are  also known to be gentle, which makes them a great family dog if trained properly.

 

Dogue de Bordeaux

Also known as the French Mastiff, this is one of the oldest and most revered dog breeds across France, and became especially famous when one starred in the 1989 classic film with Tom Hanks, Turner and Hooch. As the name suggests, these dogs originated in the Bordeaux region of France, where they became known for their big heads and wrinkly faces. Dogue de Bordeauxs are also known to have a muscular build, which made them perfect for hauling carts and guarding livestock. Even though these dogs can be extremely loyal and docile, they can also be aggressive if not extensively trained from an early point.

 

French Friends

While this post does not even come close to an exhaustive list of French dog breeds, we shared with you some of our favorite ones. However, based on this, it’s important to know that France is home to many of the worlds most well-known and most beloved dogs.

The History of Cheese

Like many origin stories throughout human history, the discovery of cheese and the beginning of cheesemaking remains one of the most famous legends. Much like the history of France itself, the history of cheese tells a remarkable story of human progress and ingenuity.

 

The Beginnings of Dairy

Long before France even became an independent nation, milk was being used to create cheese. While many historians agree that milk consumption dates back to sometime during the Neolithic Era, depending on the region of the world, it is usually considered to have begun in Europe around 7500 years ago. Around this time, dairy farming began increasing as Central Europeans underwent a genetic change, allowing their bodies to produce the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for breaking down the milk sugar lactose.

 

From Milk to Cheese

While dairy farming began to become prevalent in Central Europe during this early period, the actual making of cheese is believed to have begun in the Mesopotamia region around the same time. From this period, we are left with interesting fables about how cheese was first discovered, along with beautiful illustrations depicting the process of milk turning into cheese. However, we don’t begin to see the first written records of the exact steps that go into the cheesemaking process until the Roman Empire in the first century AD.

Even though many cheese recipes were lost after the fall of the Roman Empire, many of them, such as well-known ones like Maroilles and Munster, were preserved in monasteries, where cheesemaking remained a very delicate and unique art.

 

Cheese Finding its Way to France

From these monasteries, we are able to trace the origins of the French tradition and love of cheesemaking. As cheese gained more popularity throughout France, it continued to only be produced and consumed in local regions. With this production pattern, French cheese began to take on very specific regional characteristics, which are referred to today as a cheese’s terroir.

Within each region of France, ingenuity and creativity led to the blossoming of a robust and unique culture of cheesemaking science and art. Local cheese producers began experimenting and cultivating new types of cheese, as well as producing distinct variations of already established cheeses. As this process continued, France slowly became recognized around the world for producing the greatest variety of delicious and exceptional cheeses.

 

Modern Day Cheese

Today, the basics of the cheesemaking process actually remain mostly the same. Basically, cheese is created from milk through a process known as coagulation, which occurs when rennet, a set of complex enzymes, or an acidic substance, such as lemon juice or vinegar, is added to milk, causing it to coagulate. During this process, the milk protein casein forms into solid masses known as curds, which are then pressed together to form what we know as cheese. This process can be used for any animal’s milk, however, typically animals such as cows, goats, or sheep are used.

While the basic process to produce cheese has mostly remained the same since its origin, interesting variations, such as the type of animal, the type of bacteria and mold, the aging process, whether or not it is pasteurized, the butterfat content, the temperature and humidity, and the brine, represent specific elements that determine the type of cheese and its overall profile. Beyond this, herbs and spices are also used to enhance flavors and colors.

With the incredibly large degree of variation among each of these extremely important details, the number of different cheeses, specifically in France alone, has reached an extraordinary number of around 400, and because there actually exists variations within these categories themselves, some people consider there to be over 1000 different styles of cheese throughout France today.

Come to one of Left Bank’s restaurants and try the superiority of French cheese today!

France, “Land of Milk”

While we have written in other posts about the importance of cheese for French culture and cuisine, today we will discuss the equally important source—milk. Due to France’s immaculate natural environment and climate, which includes large regions of green meadows and grassy fields, as well as the perfect amount of rain to bring the vegetation to life, the French dairy farms are situated in one of the most suitable regions in the world to raise dairy cows.

 

The Beginnings of Dairy

Long before France became an independent nation, milk was being consumed all across Europe for thousands of years. While many historians agree that milk consumption dates back to sometime during the Neolithic Era, depending on the region of the world, it is usually considered to have begun in Europe around 7500 years ago. Around this time, dairy farming began increasing as Central Europeans underwent a genetic change, allowing their bodies to produce the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for breaking down the milk sugar lactose. Due to this incredible genetic mutation, people were able to consume milk throughout their whole lives without suffering any severe complications.

One of the hypothesized reasons that this genetic mutation was naturally selected for, allowing it to become a dominant trait among Europeans, is because it was especially helpful during periods when food shortages had occurred. During these times, dairy consumption increased because it was extremely conducive for providing the nutrients we need to stay healthy, and since only certain adults could consume milk without suffering digestive complications, the people who were more likely to pass on their genes were people who had the genetic mutation that allowed their bodies to comfortably consume milk.

 

Modern Day Dairy

Today, the dairy industry in France has grown to an epic size. Even though this industry has grown to around 65,000 dairy farms and 650 processing plants, the individual farms still remain relatively small compared to the industrial-sized dairy farming we see in the United States. Most dairy farms are still family-oriented operations, consisting of herds between 30 and 120 cows, which allows them to ensure each individual cow is cared for properly, with special attention given to health and well-being.

While France has always has strict policies surrounding the dairy industry in order to maintain the high quality of milk that France is known for around the world, such as specific requirements for the feed and care for the cows, as well as frequent inspections to ensure farms are following these guidelines, in recent years, France has been especially focusing on improving the overall well-being of the animals. Furthering continued efforts over the last couple centuries to improve overall farming practices, France has expanded their work to improve the health and well-being of the cows to include goals such as lowering cows’ stress levels and also ensuring the cows are able to express natural behaviors. These efforts not only improve the lives of the animals that provide us our nutrients, but it also improves the overall quality of the milk.

The typical life of a cow in France includes stress-free grazing outdoors between April and October, where the cow will be eating the natural grasses of the land. During the other part of the year, the cows will be fed fodder that is naturally grown on the farm, which typically consists of hay and cereal. As previously mentioned, the dairy farming process in France pays special attention to the cows health and stress levels throughout their whole life, not only to ensure the overall well-being of these incredibly important animals, but also to guarantee the highest quality of milk.

While cows dominate the dairy scene, with approximately 3.6 million across all of France, sheep and goats also make up a large portion of the dairy industry, with 1.2 million and 850,000, respectively. With 20 different breeds of cows across France, the diversity of milk allows the French to produce a wide-range of delicious and unique products, including cheese, butter, cream, and yogurt.

Not only is the milk produced in France of superior quality, but the dairy industry is also one of the most important components of France’s economy. With nearly 28 billion euros in revenue each year, 300,000 jobs across the dairy industry, and 3.6 billion euros in trade surplus from dairy alone, milk and other dairy products have become one of the strongest supporters of France’s overall economy.

 

The True “Land of Milk”

 With its rich history in the development of French culture and immense importance for French cuisine, dairy farming remains one of France’s most cherished traditions. Not only is the milk craved by nations all over the world because of its superior quality and diversity, but all of the dairy products created with it are as well. Together, all of these attributes have truly given France the right to be known as the “Land of Milk.”