Monthly Archives: February 2010

Does This Cheese Make Me Look Fat? Or Why the French Woman’s Diet May Help You Lose Weight

DOES THIS CHEESE MAKE ME LOOK FAT? OR WHY THE FRENCH WOMAN’S DIET MAY HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT … UPDATE: I’ve lost 10+ lbs on this healthy, cheese “non-diet”..without dieting or feeling deprived since I wrote this blog post! And I’ve added a link to another blog (not my own) which not only discusses the specific cheeses and wines related to this article but includes some mouth-watering photos. Don’t forget to click on the icons for Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Buzz, Blink, Newsvine, Facebook and Twitter (at the end of the post) if you like what you’ve read. Also, please COMMENT. I’d love to hear about your experiences with cheese, healthy eating, and possible, related weight loss…and I’m sure others would like to read your responses too!

It often comes as a surprise to my fellow wine lovers that some of us wine types love cheese, too – a lot! Almost as much as we love wine. I’ve been eating “real” cheese as long as I’ve been drinking fine wine. That is longer than I’d care to mention since a lady never gives away her age (as my mother used to say). Oops! Now you know that I’m at that age when a woman starts sounding like her mother! (And wondering whether Botox is Kosher…)

Increasingly over the last decade, with the influx of a broader array of foreign cheeses to the U.S. and with the increased production of small-production, artisanal (handcrafted) American cheeses, this miracle of fermented, acidified milk has become a larger part of my diet. I go through periodic fits of eating only cheese accompanied by crackers and fruit (preferably, ahem, dried fruit) for dinner, often for days in a row. At a minimum, I dine like this once a week, while sipping a lovely, appropriate wine.

Guess what happens when I eat like this? I have fun. I experience pleasure. Sometimes I even feel I’m “addicted”. And for a bonus, I lose weight! Lots of it. Best of all I maintain my new, healthy weight…that is until something throws me off, a tight schedule perhaps or stress of some sort…or a spate of dining out. Well, actually, the economy has nearly obliterated that last obstacle to maintaining my neo-svelte figure…

My partner has always called this mysterious cheese-equals-weight-loss phenomenon “Alexandra’s wine and cheese diet”. Until last night we thought it was something only we knew about although we often had our doubts and thought we were crazy. Such negative thinking invariably led us back to “well-balanced” but skimpy meals consisting of salads, naked baked potatoes and fish (or boneless, skinless, above all, tasteless chicken breasts).

Now, after attending a class last evening at Sara Vivenzio’s San Francisco Cheese School taught by the pioneering fromager (and former wine sommelier) Max McCalman, I understand the science behind my dietary observations. Cheese is not evil. In fact, cheese is not only good for you, it is downright healthy! It’s loaded with nutrients and micro-nutrients. As part of the French-Mediterranean diet and that famous French Woman’s diet, cheese helps people lose weight and then maintain their new, healthier figure.

But wait a minute, you say. Cheese is fat! How can fat be healthy? And how can fat make you thin (or at least thinner)? Let’s separate the fat facts from fiction. As Max says at the beginning of every class he leads, CHEESE IS GOOD FOOD. To quote from his latest book, “Mastering Cheese: Lessons for Connoisseurship From a Maitre Fromager” co-authored by David Gibbons:

“A 4-ounce piece of solid farmhouse cheese, for example, supplies more than half the adult nutritional requirements for protein, fat, calcium, and phosphorus as well as significant portions of vitamins A, B2 and B12. If you compare the nutritional content of a 3.5 ounce (100-gram) chunk of a hard, aged cheese such as Cheddar or Emmenthal to an equivalent amount of chicken eggs (two eggs are about 100 grams), the cheese contains about twice as much protein and one quarter the cholesterol.”

What else does cheese provide? (And by cheese I mean preferably raw milk which has not had most of its nutrients pasteurized or heated out of it) Vitamin D, Folic Acid, Zinc, CLA as well as two amino acids: Tyrosine and Taurine. Cheese also contains casein which breaks down into an opioid peptide. There’s some truth to my feeling like a cheese addict!

Vitamin D is vital for bone growth and prevention of osteoporosis. Zinc is essential for maintaining vision levels. B vitamins help with stress. CLA (or Conjugated Linoleic Acid) is found primarily in meat and dairy products, particularly cheese. CLA is an antioxidant, a class of nutrient which seems to have cancer-prevention properties. At least one study has indicated that CLA also facilitates weight loss and another study showed that CLA can lower serum cholesterol levels. All of which means that cheese is heart healthy, too!

Tyrosine is broken down by your body into the neurotransmitters Norepinephrine and Epinephrine. What does this mean for you? Increased energy, increased ability to deal with stress, elevated or stabilized mood. Tyrosine literally makes you happy. It is also a presursor to Melanin whch provides your skin with color and protects it from the sun.

Taurine, the amino acid which your cat requires in her daily diet, aids in the synthesis of bile supporting the metabolization of the fats and proteins in your diet. The cheese you eat literally helps you digest the cheese you eat! Now you have an excuse to have a piece of cheese within any meal. It can help you reach that point of satiety when you feel full and free of the desire to overeat. Taurine also helps lower or level off cholesterol levels and has been used to treat artheriosclerosis and hypertension (high blood pressure).

What’s missing in cheese? Fiber, water…and calories. So go ahead. Enjoy normal amounts of cheese with dried fruit or some other form of fiber, drink plenty of water (and maybe a little bubbly!). You’ll be happier, healthier and a little thinner. Now smile for the photos of the new you in your new jeans…and don’t forget to say “Cheese”!

Nothing in this blog post should be regarded as medical advice. If you have a medical condition or are embarking on a weight-loss regimen please consult with your physician or health care professional first. Trust me on this. I’m a doctor’s daughter.

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Michel Rolland Wine in Siberia?

Michel Rolland wine in Irkutsk? What is this? A James Bond movie???

Actually, Irkutsk has long been known as “The Paris of Siberia”. Perhaps this is because Siberia was the place where writers, artists, and other intellectuals of earlier eras were sent into exile. Or perhaps it is because the exiled brought with them a taste for smuggled wine as well as vodka? In any case, Siberia is just the place for intrepid, wine-loving Globetrotters like Anja Cheriakova and Georges Jannsens to go searching for signs of wine. And guess what they have found!

Before I give you the link to their delightful World Wine Tour 2010 travelblogue let me fill you in on Anja and George’s story and that of the 5th annual World Wine Tour:

Anja, a young Belorussian woman from The Netherlands, and Georges, a young man from the United States are travelling the world’s wine countries on a charitable mission. At each stop or winery they hope to collect one wine bottle. Throughout the tour they will report on their adventures to their rapidly growing base of followers. All bottles collected will be shipped (thanks to JJ Hillebrand) to Napa, California where a charity auction will be held at Robert Mondavi Winery in 2011. All proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Lao Rehabilitation Foundation Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. The funds raised by the auction in 2011 will go to help rebuild a school destroyed by massive flooding of the Mekong River in 2008.

Georges and Anja have written to me about how much their thoughts are with the people of Haiti right now. The funds raised by the World Wine Tour 2010 were already committed to the Lao Rehabilitation Foundation a year ago. Anja and Georges hope that the Globetrotters who embark on the World Wine Tour 2011 will choose a Haitian charity as the recipient of their philanthropic endeavors. In the meantime Anja and Georges ask their followers to donate to a reputable charity providing aid to Haiti.

Back to Michel Rolland and Irkutsk: Anja and Georges have just completed the Siberian leg of an exciting railway journey on the Trans-Siberia/Mongolia Express. I know you’ll enjoy reading about their discovery of fine wines in Siberia as much as I have. Here’s the link to Anja and George’s World Wine Tour Blog: If you don’t find the post entitled “The Trans-Siberia/Mongolian Express: Unexpected Stories”, click on Archive and look for the story dated 12 January 2010.

To follow Anja and Georges on Twitter: AnjaCheriakova or @WorldWineTour
To Friend Anja and George and the World Wine Tour 2010 on Facebook, Search: “World Wine Tour 2010”

Jancis Robinson is one of the media sponsors of this year’s World Wine Tour. From time to time she’ll be reporting on Anja and Georges global “scavenger hunt” for fine wines. This post contains the Tour’s tentative schedule:

Veronique Barretto, a student in the Masters of Wine Business Program at the Burgundy School of Business in Dijon, France, just “discovered” the World Wine Tour 2010. The February 3rd, 2010 post on her delightful blog, Vinously Speaking, offers brief bios of this years Globetrotters. You’ll also find links to French, Spanish, and even Dutch language translations of the Tour’s website:

DISCLOSURE: I have the pleasure of volunteering from home for the World Wine Tour 2010 moderating the Tour’s Facebook page and writing some of it’s Tweets.

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