It was a jaw-dropping moment for me. I had just finished my annual physical in the doctor’s office and was getting dressed when Dr. B. (a.k.a. “the stick woman”) whisked into the cubicle, and announced, “You need to eat more cheese!”
“Hunh?” was my quick-witted reply, as my brain struggled to assimilate what she was saying. Dr. B. was holding a document in her hand which turned out to be my latest bone density test and she explained that I have reached the age when bone density becomes an issue for many women and what I was lacking was sufficient calcium. But my mind was still resisting the message, as I recalled the years of guilty pleasure I had derived from consuming grilled cheese sandwiches, Parmesan loaded pasta and gooey omelettes, not to mention the double cheese pizzas that I insisted upon. Was she really telling me to “up the ante”?
Then, of course, she spoiled it all by saying, “Well — maybe cottage cheese or skim milk cheese …”
Anyway, it was a rather eerie coincidence because just that very morning, I had been to the Burlington Market where I had discovered Tiffany Drong from “Goats in Motion.” Tiffany was selling her goat meat, but also a whole lot of goat cheese. I was pleased to see that there was a small lineup at her booth as I stopped by to say “hello” and stayed to try three or four of the flavored types goat cheese that she was offering to customers — garlic, herbs, red peppers, whatever. And then, it was off to “The Cheeseman” to buy the creamy Macedonian feta that I like to add to the Greek salad that I eat almost daily for the entire month of August.
So somehow, I don’t really think that I am lacking in my overall cheese consumption quota. But the whole experience got me thinking about calcium so I did a bit of research.
Dairy (milk, yogurt and cheese), not surprisingly, is the main source of edible calcium and, since I do drink skim milk every day, I think that I must be alright. (I can’t drink wine for lunch or I fall asleep over my desk in the afternoon.) Other sources of calcium include leafy greens (the dreaded kale contains more calcium than milk — wouldn’t you just know it?), fish that includes little bones — like tinned salmon or sardines, and white beans, black-eyed peas and almonds are all good sources. Actually many foods now are fortified with calcium – just read the labels. And then there are the enormous, hideous calcium tablets that I have started taking daily, just to make sure.
Osteoporosis is the culprit that one wants to avoid. This is a thinning of the bones that leads to all sorts of fractures and frailties and eating a diet that’s low in calcium, along with not getting enough exercise (particularly strength-training), and smoking are all major risk factors in women “of a certain age”. The Dr. explained that there is also a genetic factor and that postmenopausal women are particularly at risk because of their lowered amounts of estrogen.
So I am really happy to report that I live in what must be cheese lovers’ paradise. Sort of right in the centre of a triangle composed of the wonderful Cheese Shop on Locke, Mickey McGuire’s in Dundas and the Ancaster Village Cheese Shop — not to even mention the downtown Farmer’s Market and Longo’s which has a superb selection of Quebec cheeses.
And this just in: As reported on Tuesday in the Globe and Mail, a Canadian blue cheese from Ontario just won Supreme Global Champion at the Global Cheese Awards in Somerset, England (these are like the Oscars of the cheese world). This is the first time in the 150 year history of the competition that a Canadian cheese won best in show. The cheese, called Celtic Blue Reserve, comes from Glengarry Fine Cheese in Lancaster, Ontario. Read the whole story at
So here’s a recipe that you can try with some really tasty goat cheese.
And I’m going to see if I can find some of that Celtic Blue Reserve — gotta’ stay healthy, you know.
Goat Cheese Toasts with Balsamic and Roasted Tomatoes
adapted from “I am a Food Blog” http://iamafoodblog.com/goat-cheese-toasts-with-balsamic-and-roasted-tomatoes/
slices of baguette or sourdough bread
fresh goat cheese
roasted cherry tomatoes
reduced balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1) Toast the bread in a pan, drizzle with olive oil and heat over medium. Keep an eye on it and flip when golden.
2) Spread the goat cheese on the toast. Top with balsamic, basil, a drizzle of oil and salt and pepper to taste.
3) Add roasted cherry tomatoes on top.
Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
halved cherry tomatoes
2 – 3 crushed cloves garlic
herbs if desired
drizzle of olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
1) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Toss the tomatoes garlic and herbs in a bit of oil and arrange on a lined rimmed baking sheet.
2) Season generously with salt and pepper and roast for 20 – 25 minutes.
Roasting the tomatoes concentrates the flavour.