Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

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Ricotta(ish) cheese

Ever wanted to make your own cheese? A faux-ricotta is one of the easier ones to start with. You can also make it relatively low-fat. To make 1 3/4 cups of ricotta, bring 2 litres of homogenized milk to room temperature. Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth. Pour milk into a large saucepan on high heat. Stir frequently until milk is 185F, or until it’s good and steamy and frothing. Turn off the heat and stir in 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt or kosher salt. The milk will become yellowish and curds will float to the surface after a couple of minutes. Slowly pour the mixture into the prepared colander. Let sit until the liquid has drained off. You made need to stir it gently a couple of times. The solids remaining in the cheesecloth are your ricotta. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Use in your favourite recipes: gnocchi, pasta, pancakes…

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Cheesed Off

We (i.e. us dietitians in my department) recently received a copy of a revamped cookbook geared toward low-income families. To be fair, it was a huge improvement over the previous version. The reliance on canned soup as a base for every recipe was gone. Yet, there was still something about the book that bothered me. It took me a little while to realise that it was the cover design. All the food groups were represented but dairy products dominated both the front and back covers. The back cover also showed that the book was sponsored by a (surprise!) dairy corporation. The fine print inside indicated that it was an “unrestricted educational grant”. While the company may have had no direct input into the content of the book their influence was evident in the cover photo. Even if this grant was “unrestricted” it seems that the authors felt some sort of obligation to their generous sponsor. I realise that it can be very difficult to raise funds for projects such as this. And I appreciate the existence of cookbooks such as this. I just think that this is an unfortunate choice of sponsor. Many of the recipes featured cheese or powdered milk. Cheese is one of the most expensive foods. Perhaps it could be included in one or two recipes but most recipes in a cookbook for low-income families should be cheese-free. As for the powdered milk, a great low-cost way to bump up protein and calcium. It could also be featured in a couple of recipes, not many, a couple. When so many people are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk and dairy products, and many of these products are expensive, I think that their use in recipes for the general low-income population should be limited. It’s a pity they couldn’t have gotten sponsorship from the beans and pulses board. Now those are an affordable and nutritious option that should be heavily featured in any cookbook, not just one intended for low-income families.