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Good nutrition on a budget

Cheese:

By Shirley Hall Author of The New Caribbean Home Garden Handbook

I have always liked cheese in its many forms. Hard, sharp cheddar and soft cottage are just two of my favourites. Many people consider cheese to be the ultimate 'poor man's food'. It can store be saved for a short period overnight without refrigeration and can be easily eaten by just slicing.

Cheese can be made from whole, low-fat, or skim milk; or combinations of these. Regardless of the type of milk used to create it, cheese is a concentrated source of the nutrients naturally found in milk, including calcium. Many cheeses provide 200 to 300 milligrammes of calcium per ounce. Getting enough calcium means you'll have strong, healthy bones. It may prevent osteoporosis and other bone problems associated with ageing. Cheese is easy to digest and great for your teeth. Eating cheese has been shown to reduce plaque and to stimulate saliva which helps to keep the mouth clean. There are also other elements in cheese such as phosphorous, zinc, vitamin A, riboflavin, and vitamin B12. B vitamins are good for maintaining supple, healthy, glowing skin. Calcium-rich foods like cheese are great for pregnant women and can help stimulate contractions when the baby is due. Cheese also helps proper milk production to help feed the newborn baby. Calcium in cheese can prevent or reduce some of the symptoms associated with PMS.

The basics to saving money on groceries is first to compile a shopping list before leaving home. It is not cost or time effective to make ten trips to the grocery store to get ten different items. Keeping a list is the most important step in keeping an organised, economical kitchen. Simply keep a piece of paper on the refrigerator door. Anytime you use the last of something, write it on the list. Make this mandatory for everyone in the house.

To stretch a meal, take one main ingredient and make it into two or three different meals. Make larger quantities of each main ingredient in the main meal and you will provide for six easy evening meals. Stretching a meal involves controlling the amount of protein, such as meat or soya, you consume. Meat/protein should not be the main ingredient of the meal, but be used sparingly and served with a variety of vegetables, fruits, and starches. Remember, a serving of meat or protein for an adult should be no bigger than a deck of playing cards.

Sunday roast a chicken for the week's big meal and eat with rice or potatoes and a vegetable as green beans or a salad. Monday evening leftover chicken can be stir fried with veggies and soy sauce and served over rice or pasta. Tuesday evening make meatloaf with boiled potatoes. Leftover meatloaf can be served the next night in sandwiches. Thursday, eat canned salmon with vegetables served over rice or pasta. Friday night, by adding lemon or lime juice and fresh tomatoes leftover salmon and veggies can be turned into fish tacos on tortilla shells, or just made into tasty sandwiches by adding a teaspoon each of vinegar and oil to the fish and veggies.

CHEESE SPINACH BAKE

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: One hour.

Ingredients: Three medium eggs, beaten, one big bunch or two medium bunches of fresh spinach, washed, stems removed and chopped, a cup of cheddar cheese grated, one cup of cottage cheese (optional), two TBS butter or margarine softened, two TS flour, salt, pepper, and spices as basil to taste

Method: In a frying pan cook the spinach in about a half cup of water until it wilts, then drain.

Combine spinach, cottage cheese, cheddar, butter, eggs, flour, salt, pepper, and spices in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Spoon into a greased baking dish and bake at 350°F for an hour. Serves four.

CHEESE AND POTATO BAKE

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 75 minutes.

Ingredients: Two pounds Irish potatoes peeled, two large onions, one medium bygone-egg plant, all

veggies sliced thin, half pound of cheddar cheese also sliced thin, half pound of ham, corned beef or salt fish suitably prepared all optional, salt, pepper, half TS dried oregano, one hot seeded and minced also optional, two ripe fresh tomatoes cubed small or one can prepared tomatoes — not sauce. Method: Arrange two thirds of the potatoes, the onions, eggplant, half the cheese and the optional additions in thin layers in a greased casserole or baking dish, Add salt, black and bitter pepper to the layers. Sprinkle top with oregano on and cover with the tomatoes. If using canned tomatoes do not drain. Arrange the remaining potatoes and cheese in overlapping slices on top. Cover the baking dish and cook in a preheated moderate oven 350°F for about an hour or until the potatoes are almost tender. The thinner the sliced potatoes the faster it will cook. Uncover the casserole and bake for a further 15 minutes to brown the top. Serves 4 CHEESE AND POTATO CAKES Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes Ingredients: one pound potatoes, boiled and mashed, one TBS butter or margarine, quarter pound of cheddar cheese, grated., one small onion grated, salt, pepper and spice to taste, bitter pepper seeded and minced optional, two TBS flour, one egg beaten and dry bread crunbs, Method: Combine potatoes butter, cheese, onion, minced hot pepper, with seasoning and beat until smooth. Add flour to firm mixture. Place on to a floured surface and form into a roll. Slices and shape into round cakes. Coat with egg and dry breadcrumbs, place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 375°F for about 20 minutes. Or you may fry the cakes. These are good served with a chopped tomato and onion vinaigrette salad/salsa. MAC AND CHEESE Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Ingredients: One package (seven ounces) elbow macaroni preferred but any pasta may be used, three TBS butter or margarine, three TBS all-purpose flour, salt, black pepper and spices such as basil and oregano to taste. Hot pepper seeded and minced optional, one cup milk, one cup cheddar cheese grated Method: Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain pasta in a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add flour, salt and pepper, spices and minced hot pepper; stir until smooth while gradually adding milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for two minutes or until thick. Remove from the heat and stir in cheese until melted. Serves four. Note: Saltfish, chopped ham, corned beef, olives, cauliflower, broccoli, corn, or almost anything your taste desires can be added to mac and cheese. Health note: Cheese may specifically help to prevent colon cancer due to its high calcium content. Cheese may help people who suffer from migraine headaches. Getting enough calcium can reduce the severity. Eating certain types of cheese has been found to actually have a positive effect on the immune system. Did you know? It's the high fat content of regular cheese, made with whole milk, generally about seventy percent of its calories, that gives full-fat cheese its smooth, creamy texture and allows it to melt easily. Regular cheeses provide eight to nine grams of fat per ounce Low-fat cheese, made from low fat milk, has three grammes or less of fat per one-ounce serving. Reduced-fat cheese has one quarter less fat than the same full-fat cheese. Fat-free cheese has less than half a gramme of fat per one-ounce serving. The sodium content in cheese depends on the amount of salt added to the milk before it was turned into cheese. Reduced-fat cheeses are usually higher in sodium than full-fat natural cheeses.

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