When can a Christmas cheeseboard be enjoyed guilt-free?

Here at Hay Hampers, we love our cheese (70% of us would rather give up chocolate than cheese) and if granted one wish it may well be that cheese was as good for us as vegetables.

Christmas Cheeseboards

We all know that cheese is not a health food but there are some nutritional advantages such as protein and some healthy fat content, fat-soluble vitamins (vit. A, D, E and K) and calcium when enjoyed in moderation. For cheese lovers these benefits are not really their main concern – it is the taste, aroma and textures that they love… but this great taste and enjoyment does come at the cost of saturated fats and salt, which we know are bad for us particularly for heart health.

So the answer to enjoying cheese guilt-free? Enjoy it as a treat, in moderation and really make the most of the occasion, in the knowledge that it is an occasional joy. When better to indulge in gastronomic treats but at feasting times of the year, and in particular at the greatest feast of all - the Christmas feast!

So here are Hay Hampers’ tips to really making the most of your Christmas cheeseboard enjoyment and ways to make it a little healthier than it might otherwise be.

- Use the very finest cheeses you can afford, artisan cheeses tend to have more concentrated flavours meaning you need less to feel as satisfied.
- Enjoy the cheeses at their optimum. Ensure they are served at room temperature so that the flavour is optimised and you can fully enjoy their aroma and texture. - Take them out of their wrappers in advance but keep covered so they do not dry out. A general rule is to remove from the fridge 1-2 hours before serving.
- Slow down and savour it. Take a moment to smell the cheese before you eat it.
- Eat the cheeses from mildest to strongest to ensure your taste buds aren’t overwhelmed and miss the more subtle flavours of the mild cheese.
- Go wholegrain with the crackers and bread, use sparingly and try to use them more as a palate cleanser than a carrier for the cheeses. If you really want to appreciate the taste of the cheese, it is best to eat it alone.
- Consider portion sizes, ways to help with this include: consider pre-cutting the cheeses – 40g is the recommended daily allowance so try cutting into 10-15g pieces – this can also make the cheeseboard more attractive and saves the guests wrestling with the cheese knives. We know you are likely to eat more than 4 pieces but this is a blow-out, not a normal day – these recommendations are about minimising the blow-out!
- Use smaller side plates to limit how much you take from the cheeseboard at a time.
- Include lots of fruits (fresh and dried), vegetables and nuts on your cheeseboard - not only do they make the display colourful and attractive you can also fill up on these and reduce the amount of cheese you eat.