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Tips on Buying, Storing, and Choosing Cheese

Tips on Buying, Storing, and Choosing Cheese

Tiffany’s, Prada, Gucci, and Versace can all be found in the ultra-affluent town of Beverly Hills. Shopaholics can indulge in their dream buying spree, but there is also a special address for elite food lovers in the 90210, for cheese.

Few stores in the country can beat the variety and quality of fromage at The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. AOC, The Water Grill, Patina and other top LA restaurants all buy cheese for dishes at the tiny, smelly (in a good way) store on Beverly Boulevard.

We sat down with owner Norbert Wabnig to break bread, sample great cheese, and talk about tips on buying, storing and eating cheese.

How many kinds of cheese do you sell at The Cheese Store?
It really depends on the time of the year. It can vary anywhere from 450 to 600 or more from all over the world.

What is the difference in flavor between a cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and sheep’s milk cheese?
Most people will relate to cow’s milk because most of our cheeses are made from cow’s milk. Part of the reason for that is cows produce a lot of milk, about 30 quarts per day. Goats and sheep only provide about 4 quarts per day. One of the reasons cheesemakers blend goat’s milk cheeses is because they don’t have enough goat’s milk. Each milk has a unique taste. Goat milk has a winey, sour taste. It is like oysters, once you get the taste for it you really like it. Lactose intolerant cheese eaters can still tolerate goat and sheep cheese. Sheep milk is kind of in the middle of the three, it has the richness of cow’s milk and a bit of the tang of goat milk.

What makes a cheese unique?
The terroir, just like wine. The soil, geography, and what the cow, sheep and goat eat are all factors the separate and distinguish different flavors of each cheese. That’s why a sheep’s milk cheese from Spain tastes different from a sheep’s milk cheese from Italy. One of the reasons that French cheeses are so distinctive is the terroir.

What do you look for when purchasing cheeses for the shop?
Obviously taste, but we are also concerned with the care in which it was made and a little bit about the personality of the person who made the cheese. I believe that personality somehow flows into the cheese.

What should a beginner cheese buyer look for when purchasing cheese?
Approach it as an adventure. We all have certain cheeses that we know and have grown up with and we like. I recommend to start with that and then branch out. So if you like Cheddar, then maybe expand and try a something with a little more flavor like a sheep’s milk Manchego. The next time you come in, then try something from the French Basque region. We aren’t a pretentious store, so customers never need to be afraid to ask to try something.

Any suggestions on under-rated cheeses that people generally overlook but that they should try?
One of my favorites is Manchego. It's easy to find. A harder cheese to find but also one of my favorites is Brin D’amour, which is a Corsican sheep’s milk cheese and is fresh, rolled in herbs and allowed to age. Many people also say they don’t like blue cheese but most of the time after they sample a few delicate variations they change their minds.

What is the best way to store cheese to get the most flavor and last the longest?
Cheese is a very durable food. You just have to care for it a little to make it last. Rewrap cheese every few days and scrape any mold off. Firm cheeses can last many months.

The Basics of Fondue

Whether you are serving classic cheese fondue or delectable chocolate dipping sauce, there are basic guidelines on how to fondue. We provide you with a good understanding of the fondue pot, accessories, safety procedures, and great ideas on dipping sauces and foods.

Fondue is a fun cooking method to use when serving a meal for a small group. It can be used for cooking meat or seafood, or it can be used to prepare different types of dipping sauces for dipping almost any type of food. The type of fondue dipping sauce that is used will depend on what you will be dipping. Fondue can be served as an appetizer, main course, or dessert. There are many fondue recipes for all of the different courses you may want to serve.

Choosing the Right Fondue Pot

A ceramic fondue pot is used when preparing cheese and chocolate (dessert) fondues that do not require high heat.

A metal fondue pot is used for fondues that require high heat when cooking, specifically meat and seafood. These pots are also suitable for meat and cheese fondues as long as the heat source is regulated at a lower temperature.

Enamel Cast Iron Fondue Pot
(Not Pictured)

An enamel cast iron fondue pot is used for any type of fondue.

Many different heating elements are available, including candles, gel fuel, liquid fuel, and electric.

Fondue Utensils

Each guest will need the following fondue utensils:

    A long fondue fork (skewer) that is typically provided when you purchase a fondue pot. These forks are color coded to help identify which fork is yours.

Note: When serving meat and/or seafood dishes, provide an appropriate dipping sauce.

Cheese Fondue

Before adding the cooked cheese fondue to the pot, rub a clove of garlic inside of the pot for added flavor.

Prepare and heat the fondue on the stove first, and then transfer to the fondue pot. Finely shredded cheese melts easily. Allow the cheese to melt slowly. Alcohol, such as wine, champagne, or beer added to cheese fondue enhances flavor and prevents curdling. If the fondue starts to separate or curdle, beat in some freshly squeezed lemon juice. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture becomes smooth. To adjust the thickness, add wine or apple cider rather than water. Always stir cheese fondue in a figure-eight motion to encourage the blending of ingredients.

The crust left at the bottom of the pot when making classic cheese fondue is considered a delicacy and is called “la croute” or la religuese”. Scrape it off and serve it to your guests.

Fondue Bourguignon: Cooking Meat andRaw Vegetables in Oil ( high heat fondue )


This dish includes beef, pork, poultry, game, seafood, and raw vegetables.

    Prepare Raw Meat: remove fat, cut into bite size cubes, and marinate (optional)

Note: If you choose to cook in broth, it is best to keep it consistent with the type of meat you are serving: for example, beef with beef broth for beef fondue.

Note: Cooking with wine or champagne is also an option. This works well when serving seafood.

Approximate fondue cooking times for raw meat,
seafood, and vegetables in prepared fondue
Beef Rare: 15 to 20 seconds
Medium Rare: 25 to 30 seconds
Well Done: 40 to 45 seconds
Fish 30 to 60 seconds
Seafood 2 to 3 minutes
Lamb 1 minute
Pork 1 minute
Poultry 2 minutes
Vegetables 3 to 5 minutes
Cooking times vary greatly and are dependent on how hot the fondue is, what the fondue consists of, and how the ingredients were prepared for the meat or vegetable fondue. If available, follow the recipe directions.

Chocolate and Dessert Fondue

Choose chocolate that has a cocoa solid content above 50% the best quality chocolate makes the best chocolate fondue. White chocolate tends to harden if overheated. Stir constantly, heat slowly, mix with cream that has been warmed to prevent hardening and to create a creamy texture. Adding a favorite liqueur will add to the texture and flavor. Ideally, all chocolate and dessert fondues should be melted on the top of a double boiler, never over direct heat, before being placed into the fondue pot for serving. A small amount of heat is required to keep dessert fondue warm in the fondue pot, it is best to use a candle.

What to Dip

    When preparing food for dipping, keep all foods bite sized in cubes, slices, or wedges.

Cooked chicken, cooked ham, cooked pork sausage, cooked seafood, apples, hard-crusty breads, French bread, rye bread, Italian bread, pears, cauliflower, broccoli, potato wedges, vegetables, and pickles.

Chocolate, Dessert, and Fruit Purée Fondue

Firm fruits, strawberries, sliced bananas, fresh pineapple, mango, kiwi, hard apples, grapes, cherries, figs, peaches, dried fruits, ladyfingers, angle food cake, pound cake, cheesecake, vanilla cookies, marshmallows, chocolate cake (fruit fondue), miniature lemon muffins, and miniature blueberry muffins.

Beef, pork, poultry, game, seafood, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, baby carrots, small sections of corn on the cob, radishes, zucchini, celery, turnips, potatoes, squash, pea pods, and mushrooms.

Broth, Bouillabaisse, Wine, and Champagne Fondue

Beef, pork, poultry, game, seafood, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, baby carrots, small sections of corn on the cob, radishes, zucchini, celery, turnips, potatoes, squash, pea pods, and mushrooms.

French bread, Italian bread, crust focaccia, corn muffins, cooked ham, salami, pepperoni, baby artichoke hearts, bell peppers, raw zucchini, and cubed hard cheeses.

Tortilla chips, bell pepper, chunks of Monterey Jack and/or Jalapeño cheese, and baby corn.

Cauliflower, bell pepper, asparagus spears, artichoke hearts, hard-crusty breads, potatoes, mushrooms, cubed squash, eggplant, cubed hard cheese, baby corn, snow peas, and cooked shellfish.

Bright Red Vs. Grey or Brown Meat

Ground Chuck or Ground Sirloin? Choosing the Right Cut

Here's a very relevant article from the USDA on cooking hamburgers.

The total calories, protein, and fat, along with available iron and zinc levels for 73% Lean, 80% Lean and 85% Lean Ground Beef can be found by clicking here

Although it is preferable to cook your steaks, burgers, pork chops, and roasts from a thawed state, it is possible to obtain satisfactory results without thawing.

1. Pepperoni Pizza Burger : grilled burger covered with pepperoni, Mozzarella cheese and pizza sauce.

2. Verde Burger : grilled ground beef mixed with seasoned garlic, topped with piquant Italian Verde sauce made with parsley, onions and capers.

3. Classic Burger : hamburger with ketchup, mustard and pickles.

4. Greek Burger : topped with herbed Feta cheese, black olives and onions.

5. Hickory Burger : beef patty covered with cheddar cheese, bacon and hickory barbeque sauce.

6. Meat-o-Rama Pizza Burger : ground beef patty stuffed with Mozzarella cheese, diced tomatoes and pizza sauce, and topped with pepperoni and bacon.

7. Caesar Burger : ground beef seasoned with garlic and black pepper, on a crusty roll, accented with Caesar dressing, romaine lettuce and avocado slices.

8. Brocco Burger : ground beef patty dressed with a blend of melted Cheddar cheese and cooked broccoli.

9. Gyro Burger : hamburger topped with white onions, tomatoes and yogurt cucumber dressing.

10. Barbeque Burger : ground beef grilled with a tangy barbeque sauce and hot peppers.

11. Onion Burger : grilled ground beef seasoned with dried onion soup mix, and blanketed with grilled and raw onions.

12. Bistro Burger : ground beef covered with caramelized onions, Brie cheese and crisp bacon, served on a walnut bun.

13. Blue Moon Burger : grilled burger topped with Bleu cheese, sauteed mushrooms, lettuce and tomato served on an onion bun.

14. Bao-Wow Burger : chili seasoned ground beef served on a Chinese Bao bun with soy-ginger mayonnaise and Asian slaw on the side.

15. Cowboy Burger : grilled mushrooms, grilled onion, bacon and Monterey Jack cheese on a flavorful beef patty.

16. Chicago Burger : grilled beef burger with sweet relish, chopped onion, ketchup, mustard and hot peppers.

17. French Bistro Burger : hamburger adorned with walnuts, Gruyere cheese and garlic mustard mayonnaise, on a French roll.

18. Sticky Burger : grilled burger spread with peanut butter, bacon and Jack cheese.

19. Five-Spice Burger : ground beef seasoned with Chinese five-spice, grilled, and served with a soy-ginger sauce.

20. Olive Festival Pizza Burger : beef burger stuffed with mozzarella cheese and pizza sauce covered with sliced black and green olives.

21. Shrimpy Burgers : mini grilled burgers decorated with cream cheese, cocktail sauce and chopped shrimp.

22. Rowdy Reuben Burger : grilled beef patty smothered with melted Swiss cheese, thousand island dressing and zesty coleslaw, served on marble rye.

23. Earth & Turf Burger : grilled ground beef, beneath a golden porcini mushroom sauce with grilled zucchini squash and sweet red bell peppers.

24. Egg Burger : a lean ground beef patty paired with a fried or scrambled egg.

25. Thai-Cobb Burger : grilled ground beef served with avocado, tomatoes and bean sprouts, accented with a light peanut dressing.

Learn how to grill the perfect burger on the BBQ. Prepare some Beef Chuck Burgers so juicy and full of flavor that it will no doubt become one of your favorite quick and easy BBQ recipes. It's quick a nd easy. All you need is 3-4lbs fresh Ground Chuck Beef, tomatoes, sweet onions, sliced cheese if it's a cheeseburger you want, and any of your favorite condiments. And of course, watch this short video and fire up that barbecue grill.
For more info, visit

26. Horseradish-Garlic Burger : topped with onions, garlic and horseradish.

27. Stroganoff Burger : ground beef patty dressed with sour cream, grilled onions, Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato, served on a fresh wheat bun.

28. Trattoria Burger : grilled beef burger layered with roasted red bell peppers, pesto mayonnaise, and Mozzarella cheese, served on focaccia bread.

29. Peking Burger : mix ground beef with a dash of Peking marinade, and grill. Serve topped with julienned mixed greens and an Asian flavored plum vinaigrette. (Marinade: Hoisin sauce, minced garlic, grated ginger, Chinese five-spice, salt and black pepper.)

30. Spicy Burger : jack cheese melted on a lean ground beef burger with jalapeno peppers and onions.

31. Cordon Bleu Burger : ground beef patty beneath a layer of sliced ham, Swiss cheese and Dijon mustard.

32. Burger Al Forno : ground beef seasoned with robust Italian seasonings, fresh garlic, and rosemary, served with a golden Parmesan crust.

33. Garlic Burger : garlic powder mixed into ground beef, grilled, topped with garlic cheese and a dollop of garlic mayonnaise.

34. Corny Burger : tangy corn relish atop a beef patty. (Red pepper, corn, white vinegar, ground red pepper, salt and green onions.)

35. The Beefster : grilled hamburger patty topped with roast beef, horseradish and Muenster cheese, served on an onion roll.

36. Milanese Burger : ground beef patty lightly coated with bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and oregano, pan fried till done. Accented with watercress sprigs and vinaigrette.

37. Simple Cheeseburger : ground round burger layered with your choice of Wisconsin cheese.

38 Big Island Burger : hamburger stuffed with Mozzarella cheese, covered with Canadian bacon and pineapple.

39. Taco Burger : topped with shredded lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and black olives.

40. Breakfast Omelet Burger : grilled ground beef patty piled high with diced ham, Cheddar cheese, mushrooms and green peppers, served on a toasted English muffin.

41. Walla Walla Burger : hamburger pan fried in sweet & sour chutney made with sauteed white onions, raisins, mustard seed and marsala wine. Served on thick sliced Texas toast.

42. German Classic : grilled burger with aged Cheddar cheese and Dusseldorf mustard.

43. Blue Bayou Burger : topped with crumbled Bleu cheese, lettuce, tomato, hot pepper mayonnaise, served on a sesame seed bun.

44. Chili Burger : Hearty beef burger hidden beneath your favorite homemade chili and shredded cheese.

45. Kalamata Burger : chopped green & Greek kalamata olives mixed with cream cheese spread on a grilled hamburger.

46. Lucky Burger : grilled beef burger on sesame rye bread, layered with hot-sweet mustard, prepared horseradish, sharp Cheddar, green apple slices, red apple slices and sliced almonds.

47. Pinwheel Burger : different colored, quartered cheese slices arranged in a pinwheel design melted atop a grilled burger.

48. Santa Fe Burger Asada : grilled ground beef brushed with chili puree, placed on a torta bun with bean dip, guacamole and sour cream.

49. Anchovy Pizza Burger : anchovies, Mozzarella cheese and pizza sauce stuffed into a grilled hamburger.

50. North Woods Burger : grilled ground beef stuffed with a wild mushroom sauce featuring shiitake, chanterelle, oyster and hedgehog mushrooms. Enhance with yellow and red bell peppers.

To learn more about beef, visit our Beef Page and Beef Processing Page!

If you are interested in purchasing a high quality thermometer, we sell the exact same thermometer we use here at the Jackson Frozen Food Locker meat processing plant in our commercial smokehouse. Just click here to learn more!

The ONLY way to know food has been cooked to a safe internal temperature is to use a meat thermometer!

Aisle by Aisle: What To Do at the Deli Counter

To help make for healthier supermarket trips, we’ve filled you in on dos and don'ts for breads, cereals, dairy, bakery goods and frozen foods. Now we’re exploring the best choices when you roll your cart up to the deli counter.

There is such a wide variety of choices when it comes to deli meats, and they definitely come in handy for simple lunchtime sandwiches or a no-cook option on a hot weeknight. The most important thing is choosing the ones that are lowest in fat and sodium. Lean meats -- turkey, chicken breast and lean cuts of ham or roast beef -- are low in fat and a great source of healthy protein. Steer clear of higher-fat options like bologna, liverwurst and salami. Two-ounces of roasted turkey breast has 60 calories, 1 gram of fat and 11 grams of protein the same amount of bologna has 150 calories, 13 grams of fat and 7 grams of protein.

Cold cuts are famously high in sodium. Ask the counter attendant about any low-sodium versions (especially if you need to watch your salt intake). Sodium content varies brand to brand, but reduced-sodium varieties often are about 50% lower than the regular ones. Either way, look for meats with no more than 300 to 400 milligrams of sodium per serving.

For sliced cheese, low-fat varieties are also your best option to keep fat, calories and cholesterol down -- Jarlsberg Lite and Alpine Lace Swiss are some good ones you might ask for.

Of course, knowing how much of what is in each each block of meat or cheese can be tough. You can't always read the food labels through the glass case. Instead, come prepared by visiting the websites of companies like Boar’s Head and Applegate Farms to get the info before your market trip.

Ready-made foods also fill the chilled cases, and you really should proceed with caution when browsing these. The chicken, egg, tuna and macaroni salads may look tempting, but many of these foods are brimming with mayonnaise and saturated fat. A 1/4-pound container of traditional macaroni salad has almost 500 calories and more than 20 grams of fat! Better choices would be salads with vinaigrette dressings and whole grains like brown rice salads or bulgur wheat. Still, you should keep portions to 1/2 cup or so to be on the safe side. While not full of mayo, they're often drenched with oil instead.

Making it more tricky, prepared foods usually don’t have a food labels either. You can get a general idea of the nutrition info by checking out some online grocery stores they often provide nutrition information for all their prepared products. It may not be exactly the same as your local store, but it will at least give you a ballpark idea.

Some deli counter sections may also offer an olive bar with marinated vegetables, fresh mozzarella cheeses, pickles and, yes, olives. Many of these foods (especially the olives and pickles) are packed in salty brine, so make sure to drain them well and use small portions to complement a less-salty meal.

How to Shop for Food and What to Cook During a Pandemic

by Devin Alexander, AARP, April 10, 2020 | Comments: 0

En español | It's understandable that when a pandemic hits, our first instinct is to hoard things like white rice, pasta and frozen pizza. And, yes, in general, we want to “stock up” so we don't have to be running to the grocery store much. But that doesn't mean you have to eat only processed foods. Ideally, we should be after fresh or frozen groceries that last for weeks and help us stay as healthy as possible.

So before making that next grocery run looking for potato chips and/or running out for Chinese takeout, consider filling your grocery cart with some of the healthy and relatively long-lasting ingredients mentioned below, then spend some quality time as a family preparing it.


Veggies are, needless to say, essential to keeping your immune system firing. But buying them in cans or jars can mean lots of sodium, which can raise your blood pressure even more during this stressful time. Some canned or jarred veggies also have unwanted preservatives or acids. So opt for fresh veggies that will last, or, if you have the space in your freezer, stock up on frozen ones.

  • Cabbage is an excellent choice as it will last for weeks. I love to make yummy slaws they're crunchy and a bit salty so they curb the savory cravings with few calories (as long as they're not full of mayo).
  • Kale is hearty and will also last weeks. Chop it up for salads or turn it into chips!
  • Winter squash easily lasts a month and if it was very fresh when you bought it, it will last even longer. I love making “fries’ out of winter squash
  • Dried mushrooms are terrific to rehydrate and make tons of dishes, from soups and pastas to egg scrambles.
  • Sundried tomatoes are another great thing to buy to add flavor to dishes. Just be sure to buy those in a dry packet, not those ones in oil. Just eyeball the sodium I've found brands with virtually no sodium and others with ridiculous amounts.
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes will last a month. If your grocery store carries them (many do), try light sweet potatoes, which taste closer to white potatoes but have more nutrients. Use them to make baked “fries,” or potato salads, or add them to soups. Be sure to store them in a cool dry place away from onions.
  • Onions will last a month if you store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. And they're a low-calorie way to season anything and everything.
  • Garlic will also last a month, so stock up on a number of heads. You can roast it with a tiny bit of olive oil for a more subtle flavor or sauté to flavor soups, veggies, sauces, etc.
  • Carrots will last a month if you cut the tops off. They also should be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag
  • Cauliflower will last a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. But if you “rice it” (chop it to look like rice in your food processor) and steam it, you can freeze it and then use it for pizza crusts, etc.
  • Bell peppers will last about two weeks if stored in the refrigerator in plastic bags. So stock only enough to eat in that time frame. I love them grilled or “roasted” by broiling them until the skins char and fall off. Then I use them on sandwiches, in salads, etc.
  • Avocados are best purchased in a range of rip to rock hard store them in the refrigerator in a plastic bag and eat them as they ripen hard ones will be good for about two weeks.
  • Beans are a great lean protein. Opt for dried that you then rehydrate or “no salt-added” canned versions.
  • Frozen veggies are another great option if you have the space in your freezer, since they'll last for months and have arguably even more nutrients than fresh, depending how long fresh were picked before purchase. Just be sure you're buying frozen veggies with nothing added (such as a butter sauce.)


So many canned fruits are so filled with sugar, they're hardly eating ‘healthy.” Mandarin oranges are one of the few that come in their own juice.

  • Most citrus — lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, etc. — have Vitamin C and last about a month when stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator.
  • Apples are great “to keep the doctor away” and they will last about a month in the refrigerator. If they start to go soft, you can always bake them (just cube them and bake them with just a bit of cinnamon) to eat on their own or add to oatmeal.
  • Common brown coconuts will last about two months. Drink the juice. Eat the “meat” or bake with them.
  • Frozen fruit is great to have on hand for smoothies or oatmeal toppings, among other uses. Be sure to confirm that “sugar” isn't on the ingredient list and you're all set. Berries are one of the lower-sugar fruits bananas or grapes contain more sugar.
  • Bananas can be peeled and frozen when they head toward “too” ripe. From there, use them in immunity-boosting smoothies.
  • Apple sauce is another great “fruit” to stock during times like these. If you're trying to avoid the grocery store as much as possible right now, apple sauce will definitely come in handy. Just be sure to get a variety with no added sugar.

Lean Proteins

There are a lot of places to order lean proteins now through the mail if you don't want to buy them at your grocery store.

  • Frozen seafood can make a quick and amazing meal. I bought “family- sized bags” of wild cod when it looked like we were going to have to isolate. The fish is extremely versatile for tacos or kid-friendly “fish sticks” and can be defrosted in five minutes in cold water
  • Lean frozen chicken or turkey burgers can be great for family grilling or for a “make your own” burger bar. Get creative with toppings.
  • Frozen turkey is another great option. I bought a whole turkey and some turkey breast “roasts.” Both can be made for dinner then sliced the next day for meat that's much fresher, yummier and healthier than deli counter meats that are packed with preservatives and sodium.
  • Frozen chicken breasts. Looking to make a restaurant quality entrée? Check out my recipe for Chicken Pinwheels with Sundried Tomatoes & Goat Cheese below.
  • Pork tenderloin is another really versatile option and is often vacuum packed in the grocery store so it will last for weeks (until you open the package). Just be sure to check the dates on the packages.
  • Lean ground beef is also an option for dishes like chili, burgers or meatloaf and is also often vacuum-sealed so it will last at least a week (I bought one package that is dated three weeks out). Check dates and plan to eat your purchases accordingly.
  • Canned chicken, tuna or salmon with no salt added are excellent options. Though I prefer the taste of “fresh” or even frozen over canned, if you truly want to steer clear of a grocery store for a month (or more), this is a way to go. Look for tuna that is reduced fat, with no salt added.
  • Egg whites (in cartons) and eggs, when purchased fresh, will last for weeks also. Get a few dozen eggs for morning omelets or yummy scrambles, but also to hard boil. Hardboiled eggs or egg whites are so great as a lean snack!
  • * Vegetarian proteins like tofu and tempeh are also great things that last for weeks before being opened.


  • Plain Greek yogurt is a refrigerator staple as far as I'm concerned. Use it to make a parfait for dessert with fresh fruit and high fiber cereal, as a lean alternative to sour cream on a baked potato creation (See my recipe below for South-of-the-Border Loaded Sweet Potato) or to lighten up a mayo-based salad or sauce.
  • Milk and/or nondairy milk can last up to a couple of months before being opened (it will last about a week once opened). Be sure to check expiration dates as you shop.
  • Sliced or shredded cheeses can be great to add here and there. Just be sure not to overdo it, as many cheeses contain high amounts of saturated fats. Opt for reduced-fat or light varieties.
  • Light string cheese is a great snacking option. It contains protein and is filling.
  • Goat cheese adds tons of flavor so you can use just a little bit. Add a bit of fresh or dried tarragon to some eggs and make a goat cheese and herb omelet that is quite delicious. Or try my recipe below for Chicken Pinwheels with Sundried Tomatoes & Goat Cheese.
  • Jarred Parmesan is definitely worth picking up, especially if you can find a natural one. Though the fresh ones in the refrigerator section tend to last a month even after they are open, the jarred ones will last longer.
  • Cottage cheese is great for snacking if you happen to be one who loves it. There's a reason it was on every diet plan in the ‘70s and ‘80s!
  • Ricotta cheese. Get a few small containers, as you're likely to find them dated a couple of months out (once opened, they only last about a week.) If you're a big ricotta fan, check out my recipe for Penne and Asparagus with Ricotta Cheese below. It's a very simple, light, yet comfort food-esque dish.

Grains & Breads

When it comes to breads and grains, opt for whole grains over white products, as always. And if you're living with diabetes, try not to overdo it on breads or grains. It's best to store any breads or bread products that you won't be using within a few days in your freezer.

  • Sandwich bread. When buying bread for sandwiches, consider opting for a sprouted grain one. If not that, just get a whole wheat one without a lot of preservatives.
  • Tortillas are great for so many dishes and generally freeze very well. I keep corn tortillas on hand (try to find one that has only corn, lime and salt in the ingredient list) for tacos and enchiladas. I also make “thin crust pizza” on things like wheat, spelt, chickpea or almond flour tortillas.
  • Quinoa is a great grain to have on hand it also has protein.
  • Brown rice is also one that we should consider grabbing over white rice. I prefer short grain brown rice over medium or long grain. It has a nuttier taste and texture, though nutritionally, they're all equal.
  • Rolled oats are great not only for oatmeals and overnight oats but I also use oats in place of bread crumbs in meatballs and meatloafs. They provide the same bulk but with added fiber.

Nuts and ‘Clean’ Nut Butters

There are so many options these days when it comes to nuts and nut butters. Be sure to purchase nuts that don't have added oils. They put them in there to add weight. Nuts that are “dry roasted” actually taste better. And, especially now when we're all eating more salt than usual, packed into our “convenience” and canned foods, best to get salt-free nuts.

  • Pistachios are my favorite nut to recommend for a couple of reasons: 1. They have more fiber than other nuts. 2. If you buy them in the shells, you have “evidence” of how many you've eaten. Because nuts are so high in calories, you never want to overdo it
  • Almonds and walnuts are both great for adding healthy crunch.
  • Almond butter is healthier than peanut butter. Buy one that has no other ingredient on the label.
  • Sunflower nut butter is another great, healthier alternative to peanut butter.

Spices, Etc.

Obviously we need flavor in our food, especially when we're looking at months of being at home. You want to make sure you have plenty of spices, seasonings, etc. Below are some common ones you might want to consider.

Jarred marinara sauce (or jarred tomatoes). Opt for lower or no sodium tomatoes and look at the labels of marinara sauce. Some have an exorbitant amount of sodium.

Jarred salsas. I love to have a few salsas on hand. Consider buying a fresh red one from the refrigerated section that will last a couple of weeks and then get a smoky one or tomatillo one in a jar. If you're a lover of Mexican fare, shop for the salsas according to the instructions in my “South-of-the-Border Sweet Potato” recipe below.

Jarred tapenade. My 2-year-old and I eat this on everything. From omelets to chicken breasts, we love it. Just be careful to read labels. We get one with roasted red peppers and vinegar in addition to the olives and olive oil so it's not insanely dense in calories.

Pesto sauce tends to be high in fat so I use just a little and add balsamic vinegar to it. It still makes a great pasta sauce that way and is easy to transform into a salad dressing or dipping sauce.

Hot sauces are great for some. If you love them, now is a good time to stock up.

Nacho cheese sauce can be such a wonderful enhancer if you find a natural one that is relatively low in calories .

Wing sauce. Look for a natural one that isn't crazy high in sodium. I love Wing Time.

BBQ sauce tends to have a lot of sugar, most of which is added. Be sure to read labels.

Low sodium or no sodium broths are great for making soups.

Vinegars. I'm a huge fan of stocking plenty of flavored vinegars to make my own salad dressings.

Spices are, needless to say, the best way to add flavor to dishes without adding a significant amount of calories. In addition to your favorite dried spices, I love to stock salt-free spice blends.

Dried chiles are also great to add flavor. I have numerous types at any given time

Frozen spices like basil and oregano can often be found in the freezer section of grocery stores. They're great at times like these when fresh basil won't last long enough and dried just doesn't quite give the same fresh taste to your Italian favorites.

Light salad dressings (if you don't want to make your own). I really like the yogurt-based dressings found in the refrigerator section these days. You should be able to find at least one that will last for two months.


While it's much better to snack on veggies (maybe with a super lean dip) and berries, green juices, etc, we all have cravings. I like to tuck my snacks in a high cabinet where it requires a bit of effort for me to get them. Some items you might consider (in addition to nuts, as listed above) to eat in moderation:

  • Dark chocolate is best for you when it has a high chocolate concentration 80 percent dark is a great choice.
  • Popcorn is filling and has fiber, so it's a healthy pick as long as it doesn't have too much butter or salt.
  • Cacao or cocoa powder is perfect for those who love chocolate as much as I do. I add it to oatmeal/overnight oats, to coffee drinks that are way healthier than the iced ones at coffee shops and to protein smoothies.
  • Brown rice cakes are great topped with almond butter and banana slices.
  • Whole grain crackers can be great if eaten with cottage cheese or tuna as a snack.
  • Flavored teas often keep me from overeating. I drink fruity tea during the day.
  • Zero calorie sweetener. I have a big sweet tooth, so I always stock a zero calorie natural sweetener (such as stevia or monk fruit sweetener) to add to iced tea, iced coffee drinks and sometimes fruit-based desserts.
  • Protein powder helps if you're having trouble finding enough lean protein or are accustomed to consuming it to support your workouts.

Penne and Asparagus With Ricotta Cheese

If you prefer, you can always substitute a brown rice, or whole-wheat or whole-grain pasta for the fiber-enriched variety. I get a lot of letters and emails from home cooks saying they are able to make my recipes for the whole family even though their spouses and children won't generally eat healthy food, because my recipes actually taste fattening. To keep with that tradition, I opt for the fiber-enriched pasta since it adds needed fiber to our diets while still tasting more like traditional pasta.

  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) box of fiber-enriched penne pasta
  • 1 pound trimmed asparagus, cut into 2-inch diagonal pieces
  • 2 teaspoons freshly minced garlic
  • 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste, optional

Cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting any oil or butter. Two to four minutes before the pasta is done, add the asparagus to the water (2 minutes for thin spears, 4 minutes for thick). Before draining, reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water in a small bowl. Drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, add the garlic, ricotta and olive oil to a large serving bowl. As soon as the pasta is drained, mix in 1/3 cup of the reserved pasta water.

Immediately add the pasta and asparagus and gently toss until the pasta and asparagus are coated with the cheese mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Gently toss again. If the mixture seems too dry, add more reserved pasta water, about 1/4 cup at a time, until no longer dry. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the pasta and sprinkle with the red pepper flakes, if desired. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings. Each (about 2-cup) serving has 318 calories, 15g protein, 60g carbohydrates, 7g fat, 2g saturated fat, 18mg cholesterol, 9g fiber, 183mg sodium

Chicken Pinwheels With Sundried Tomatoes & Goat Cheese

  • 1 ounce dried sundried tomatoes (not oil packed)
  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 4 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, visible fat removed
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 ounces (about 5 tablespoons) crumbled light goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely slivered fresh basil leaves (aka basil chiffonade)
  • Olive oil spray
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the sundried tomatoes and boil them for approximately 1 minute, or until rehydrated and tender. Drain the tomatoes, then pat them dry with a lint-free towel or paper towels.

Add the tomatoes along with the garlic to the bowl of a mini food processor fitted with a chopping blade. Process them until the ingredients are very finely chopped (you can do this by hand if you don't have a mini food processor).

Lay the chicken breasts, smooth sides up, on a cutting board or flat work surface. Cover them with waxed paper or plastic wrap. Using the flat end of a meat mallet and starting in the center of the breasts, working outward, pound them to 1/4 inch thickness.

Flip the breasts so the smooth sides (tops of the breasts) are face down and arrange them so that the pointy ends (tip of the breasts) are closest to you. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of the salt evenly over all 4 chicken breasts. Spread 1/4 of the tomato mixture (about 1 heaping tablespoon) evenly over each chicken breast, leaving about 1/2 inch at the thicker end (the end farthest from you) bare. Then sprinkle 1/4 (about 1 heaping tablespoon) of the cheese and 1/4 of the basil (about 1 tablespoon) evenly over the tomato mixture on each breast.

Starting at the end of the chicken breast that is closest to you, carefully roll each chicken breast into a tight roll, being sure to keep the filling inside. Lightly mist the outsides of the breasts with spray, rotating them to mist them all over. Season them evenly all over with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and the pepper.

Place a medium nonstick frying pan over medium high heat. When it's hot, remove the pan just long enough to mist it with spray. Carefully place the chicken breasts with the seam sides down in the pan. Cook them until they are a light golden brown and then, using tongs, gently rotate them to lightly brown the entire outsides, about 1 minute per face.

Transfer the breasts to the prepared baking sheet and bake them until they are no longer pink inside or until a meat thermometer inserted into chicken reaches 175°F, about 12 to 18 minutes. (The timing will depend on how much you browned them). Remove them from the oven and tent them with foil for 3 minutes. Cut each into thirds to create 3 pinwheels. Enjoy immediately.

Makes 4 servings. Each (1 stuffed chicken breast) serving has 180 calories, 6g fat, 2.4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 75mg cholesterol, 420mg sodium, 450mg potassium, 5g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 3g sugars, 27g protein, 230mg phosphorus

Recipes taken from I Can't Believe It's Not Fattening by Devin Alexander. Copyright c 2010 by Devin Alexander. Published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House Inc.

South-of-the-border loaded sweet potato

When I'm cooking for myself, I prepare this potato with medium salsa, and it has a nice kick. Feel free to use mild or hot. Note that the toppings won't fit inside the potato — they will spill out over the top, making it even more decadent to eat!

  • 1 (8-ounce) sweet potato
  • 4 ounces extra-lean ground turkey
  • 3/4 teaspoon all-natural salt-free fajita or Southwest seasoning
  • Olive oil spray (propellant free)
  • 1/3 cup fresh salsa, drained
  • 2 tablespoons jarred all-natural roasted green salsa
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt

Using a fork, poke the potato 5 times on all sides and place it in a microwave-safe bowl or dish. Cover the dish loosely with a paper towel. Microwave it on high for 3 minutes. Carefully flip the potato (it will be very hot) and continue microwaving for 2 to 4 minutes longer, or until cooked and tender.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the turkey and seasoning.

Place a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, lightly mist it with the olive oil spray. Cook the turkey for 3 to 4 minutes, or until no longer pink, breaking it into bite-size chunks as you do.

Cut an opening in the potato that stretches 1 inch from each end of the potato and deep enough to open the potato completely without cutting it in half. Put it in a medium shallow bowl. Stuff the potato with the fresh salsa, then the turkey, then the green salsa. Top it with the yogurt. Serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving: 342 calories, 35g protein, 47g carbohydrates (13g sugar), 2g fat, trace saturated fat, 45mg cholesterol, 8g fiber, 304mg sodium

Reprinted from The Biggest Loser Quick and Easy Cookbook by Devin Alexander (c) 2011 by Universal Studios Licensing LLLP. The Biggest Loser (TM) and NBC Studios Inc. and Reveille LLC. Permission granted by Rodale Inc. Available wherever books are sold.

5 Things You Don't Know About Storing Eggs

Many people think that storing eggs in the plastic holder that comes standard in most refrigerator doors is the way to go. Why else would fridge manufacturers add that nifty little feature?

However, this is a common misconception, so it&aposs time we set the record straight: This method is far from the best way to store eggs in your refrigerator.

Turns out, leaving eggs in their store-bought container and storing them on the middle shelf of your fridge is actually the best way to keep them fresh longer.

So if you, like many others, having been storing your eggs all wrong for quite some time now, learning these five often overlooked do&aposs and don&aposts of smarter egg storage can help you fix your faux-pas and quickly improve your food safety IQ.

1. Don't ditch the store-bought carton.

No matter how much you love those adorable ceramic egg cartons or want to make use of the plastic egg-holder insert that came with your fridge, keeping your eggs in the Styrofoam or cardboard container you purchased them in is your best bet. These materials do a better job of cushioning your eggs to prevent breakage. Plus, the "best by" date is clearly marked, too.

2. Do keep eggs in a closed carton at all times.

Along with other criteria, in order for an egg to be USDA-grade, it&aposs required by law that eggshells be sanitized before being packaged and sold. But this process actually strips the eggshells of their natural protective oils — that makes the shells&apos thousands of tiny pores more easily permeated by strong odors that could be lurking in your fridge. That&aposs why storing your eggs in their original, closed carton will help protect them from absorbing any strange food scents that could be circulating.

3. Don't store eggs in the door of your refrigerator.

You may be under the common misconception that eggs should be stored in the door of your refrigerator, but the truth is, eggs are best stored in the main portion of your fridge on the middle shelf, ideally toward the back. The reasoning is that the temperature of your fridge stays the coldest and most consistent in this area, whereas the temperature of your refrigerator door, on the other hand, is prone to fluctuations, since it gets opened and closed regularly. And since eggs should be stored at temperatures of 45ଏ or lower, according to, those fluctuations could pose a food-safety risk.

4. Do keep eggs facing upside-down in the carton.

We&aposre conditioned to think that the pointed side of the egg is the top, while the larger, more rounded side is the bottom, so it only makes sense that that&aposs how we&aposd naturally arrange them in their carton, if we were putting them in ourselves. But the next time you buy a carton of eggs, take a look at how they&aposre oriented — they should be round side up, pointed side down (assuming no one has messed with any). That&aposs because there&aposs a naturally occurring air bubble inside each egg&aposs rounded side, which helps keep the yolk more centered inside the egg and, in turn, will help your eggs stay fresh longer.

5. Don't return used eggshells to the carton or reuse cartons.

Since eggshells are so permeable, bacteria that forms on used eggshells can easily contaminate the rest of your eggs, making them unsafe to eat — so never return used eggs to a carton, if you don&apost plan on discarding it immediately. And you should never reuse an old egg carton for that same reason, too. According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service, "Egg cartons have been approved for a specific use and should be considered one-time-use packaging. Bacteria from foods that these packages once contained may remain on the packaging and thus be able to contaminate foods or even hands if reused."

Pavelskyi Vladyslav/Shutterstock

If you'd like to eat avocados all week, pick avocados in a variety of stages of ripening. For Hass avocados, like those from Avocados from Mexico, you'll want to grab dark brown-skinned avocados to eat today. Looking to make avocado toast within the next couple of days? Check for green and brown speckled fruit. And to make guacamole next weekend, stock up on hard, unripe fruit. According to Avocados from Mexico, the brand's green fruits will be ready to eat in three to four days when left out at room temperature.


With the exception of alcohol, every packaged food and beverage in the supermarket has an ingredients statement. By law, the more of an ingredient a product contains according to weight, the higher it appears on that list, so effective shoppers learn to ignore front-of-label claims and read ingredients statements instead. Claims like "made with whole grain" and "reduced fat" can fool you into thinking you're making healthy choices, but if your "reduced fat" food lists sugar as the first—or second or third—ingredient, then it's not doing you any favors. A good general rule for label scanning: The fewer the ingredients, and the easier those ingredients are to pronounce, the better.

How to Choose Healthy Snacks

This article was co-authored by Dina Garcia, RD, LDN, CLT. Dina Garcia is a Registered Dietitian, Nutritionist, and the Founder of Vida Nutrition and Conscious Living, her private practice based in Miami, Florida. Dina specializes in helping yo-yo dieters and binge eaters overcome food guilt, practice self-love, and rediscover self confidence. She has over 15 years as a dietitian. She received a BS in Dietetics from Ball State University and completed her supervised dietician practice at California State University, Fresno. She is certified as a Registered Dietitian (RD) by the Commission on Dietetic Registration and is a Florida Licensed Dietician/Nutritionist (LDN).

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Eating the right snacks is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Snacking provides fuel and boosts energy levels, as well as provides little delights throughout the day! By shopping smart, making mindful decisions, and being aware of ingredients, you can easily integrate healthy snacks into your life.

  • Don’t automatically add salt to your food – taste it first.
  • Add a splash of olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice close to the end of cooking time or to cooked vegetables – it can enhance flavours in the same way as salt.
  • Choose fresh or frozen vegetables, since canned and pickled vegetables tend to be packaged with salt.
  • Limit your consumption of salty processed meats such as salami, ham, corned beef, bacon, smoked salmon, frankfurters and chicken loaf.
  • Choose reduced salt bread and breakfast cereals. Breads and cereals are a major source of salt in the diet.
  • Iodised salt is best. A major dietary source of iodine is plant foods. Yet there is emerging evidence that Australian soil may be low in iodine and so plants grown in it are also low in iodine. If you eat fish at least once a week, the need for iodised salt is reduced.
  • Avoid salt-laden processed foods, such as flavoured instant pasta or noodles, canned or dehydrated soup mixes, chips and salted nuts.
  • Margarine and butter contain a lot of salt but ‘no added salt’ varieties are available.
  • Most cheeses are very high in salt so limit your intake or choose lower salt varieties.
  • Reduce your use of soy sauce, tomato sauce and processed sauces and condiments (for example mayonnaise and salad dressings) because they contain high levels of salt.

Culinary herbs are leafy plants that add flavour and colour to all types of meals. They are also rich in health-protective phyto-oestrogens. In many cases, herbs can replace the flavour of salt and oil.