Clean Eating Challenge: Is Cheese “Clean”? (Day 24)

cheesecleaneatingThis is a part of my 30 Day Clean Eating Challenge Article Series! Read about the challenge and see all of my posts HERE!

Original photo by _gee_ via flickr

The vegan and paleo diets eliminate cheese, but in the clean eating community, cheese is accepted within moderation. It also has to abide by these guidelines:

  • Full fat. Not only do the low fat and nonfat cheeses taste like plastic, they’ve had to undergo some funky processing to become that way. Stick to full-fat cheeses instead.
  • Block cheese only. When it comes to cheese, you want to go for the least processed version you can find. That means block cheese. You can grate and slice it yourself. Block cheese is usually cheaper than grated or individually packaged sliced cheese anyways.
  • No “EZ Cheeze” or canned junk. That’s an absolute no. EZ Cheeze doesn’t need to be refrigerated — that’s a warning sign within itself!
  • Go grassfed when you can. Not always possible, but if you can get cheese from grass fed cows.

Suggested Cheeses:

  • Paremesan is a good choice when it comes to cheese because it’s lower fat and has a strong flavor so you don’t need to use as much.
  • Cottage Cheese is a good source of protein and is fairly low fat. It has a good amount of sodium, but other than that it’s not a bad choice as far as cheese goes. It’s versatile and good for a wide array of recipes.
  • Goat Cheese is a good option for those who are sensitive to cow’s milk. It tastes great on Pizza Paninis, too. It also has a ton of protein.
  • Feta. Another low-fat, high-protein choice.

Is Cheese Healthy?

My favorite kind of cheese is Pepperjack — I like the spicy kick of the jalapenos! I occasionally put a slice on my scrambled eggs when I need something different. At around 100 cal a slice, however, it definitely qualifies as a treat. In fact, I treat all cheese as a treat. If I can go without it, I do, and I’m beginning my search for vegan cheese substitutes to see if I can begin switching over.

Cheese may be clean, but it’s not at the top of the health totem pole since it contains moderate to high amounts of sodium and saturated fat. It’s best to limit your intake and consider it part of your “20%” zone of your 80/20 rule if you can.

Good luck!



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