If you ask me, everything’s better with cheese, and I’m not the only one. Americans love cheese, eating an average of about 38 pounds a year in 2017 (USDA). From kid-pleasing pizza to fancy cheese boards to comforting casseroles, cheese plays a starring role in some of our favorite foods. It’s no wonder there’s an entire day dedicated to cheese lovers!
In addition to its culinary roles, cheese is a good source of high-quality protein and contributes other essential nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin A to the American diet. As a nutritious addition to just about any meal, cheese can be incorporated into most diets. For those eating vegetarian diets, cheese is an important source of high-quality protein. Those with lactose intolerance can enjoy natural cheeses like Cheddar and Swiss, which are low in lactose yet still provide important nutrients.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy cheese is in combination with whole grains and vegetables. This food group trio provides four nutrients that most Americans are not getting enough of – calcium, potassium, Vitamin D, and fiber.
Check out these cheese-a-licious recipe ideas featuring vegetables and whole grains to celebrate National Cheese Lovers Day any day of the year.
- Vegetables for breakfast, anyone? Cheese and Spinach Strata is a well-balanced meal that can be enjoyed any time of day.
- Who doesn’t love a grilled cheese? Up the ante by choosing whole grain bread and adding leafy greens, like spinach or kale.
- Afternoon snack attack? Serve up Baked Spinach Artichoke Yogurt Dip with whole-grain crackers for a crowd-pleasing snack or appetizer.
- On the go? Mix up Overnight Greek and Grain Salad for a portable lunch that’s loaded with flavor and nutrients.
- Need a super-fast weeknight dinner? Fire up the oven and make Three-Cheese Tomato-Basil Pizza. Add extra veggies, like sautéed onions, mushrooms, zucchini, or eggplant if you have extra time.
- Feeling fancy? Substitute whole wheat pasta in this Grilled Chicken Cheddar Casserole with Mushrooms and invite some friends over for upscale comfort food.
Jessica Ivey is a Registered Dietitian and chef with a passion for teaching people to eat healthy for a happy and delicious life. She loves spending time in the kitchen creating original recipes to help busy families eat well and enjoy more meals together. Jessica lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband, three children, and dog.