January 13, 2013

Let’s Hear It For The Foods: Cheese And Peanut Butter First

January is a month full of national days dedicated to food: cream puff, spaghetti, tempura, apricot, pistachio, and croissant, just to name a few. As I was researching the different national days, two caught my attention in particular—cheese and peanut butter. Now, I know that I usually write about being healthy and aware of what we eat, but I think I will take a moment to write about two tasty foods. Who cares if they are a bit fatty, right? Fatty does not mean definitely unhealthy, and these two foods prove that.

Let’s start with cheese. Oh, cheese! I can hear your taste buds crying out for some delicious, cheesy goodness. Oh wait…that might be my own craving kicking in. Anyway. Okay, so it is a food full of fat, but it also has calcium and protein and a bounty of other nutrients. Stores even have low-fat options of cheeses to help us stay healthier. So cheese may not be the perfect food, but I will take the fat in cheese in exchange for the good nutrients and the delicious flavor.

What is nice about cheese is that there is a type of cheese for everyone. For those of us who like our cheeses potent (and I would imagine stinky), we can find everything from feta to stilton. For those who prefer softer cheeses, a good brie or camembert will do the trick. And for the traditionalist in all of us, there are cheddars and Swiss galore. What’s more…there are many, many other kinds of cheese available to tantalize our taste buds.

A quick search online resulted in finding, a website dedicated to cheeses and information about cheese. In the mood for a cheese from Romania? Well, breaks down cheeses by country, type, texture, milk, and even has vegetarian cheeses. It is a great source for figuring out cheese information.

As if variety of cheese wasn’t enough, cheeses can also be cooked, baked, fried, melted, cold, and served in many ways. Eating slices of cheddar with a good, crisp apple really brings out interesting flavors and textures. Putting shredded cheese on bread and baking or broiling it creates a bubbling dish that compliments any meal. Cheese just adds to most foods.

Like any fatty food, though, moderation is necessary for a healthy diet. Beyond that, become a cheese lover and try out the kinds and ways of eating. Celebrate National Cheese Lover’s Day on January 20, 2013. Move away from the plastic cheese that’s not really cheese at all and move toward the deliciousness of real cheeses.

Another wonderful national day this month is National Peanut Butter Day on January 24. So, once you have finished paying homage to the formaggio, move onto another tasty treat. Like cheese, peanut butter is a fatty food; however, most of those fats are unsaturated (typically about 80%), so they are the good fats. Furthermore, it has fiber, protein, potassium, and other vitamins and minerals, for starters. Like cheese, it may be a fatty food, but it also provides good nutrients thus holistically peanut butter is good in moderation.

I am a fan of natural or homemade peanut butter. I will eat the more processed (and thus sweeter) peanut butters, but making my own is just too good. Plus, I can then control the amount of sodium in the butter.

Peanut butter is good on sandwiches, fruits, and even veggies. It pairs nicely with foods to bring about a flavor sensation worth any calories or fats. Plus, for vegetarians like me, peanut butter is a necessity to my diet. It helps me to balance out the protein I take in, and it’s tasty. Win-win.

This month provides many days to celebrate food. On the 20th and 24th, take time for a little cheese and crackers and then peanut butter and crackers. These foods deserve the recognition.

Image Credit: Cris Kelly / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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