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Beyond the Cow: Delicious, Different-Dairy Cheeses

Cheese boards are now brimming with savory bites from other milks.

Different, healthy cheeses to enjoy
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

When I was a kid and went to holiday parties with my parents, the “cheese board” would typically have a few classics: a block of cheddar, maybe some American slices and probably a cheese ball (again cheddar) rolled in nuts.

Make no mistake, I absolutely love my memories of those fancy platters with their lovely crackers . But as an adult—one who sometimes wrestles with cows-milk dairy—I am in love with the newer trend of cheese boards brimming with delicious bites from the milks of different animals.

Goat: Easier to Digest
Goat’s milk cheese is high in protein and healthy fat, plus minerals like riboflavin that support cell growth. It is also easier to digest than cow’s milk cheese because it only contains one of two milk proteins (caseins) that can challenge some tummies. 

Goat cheese is also tangy, spreadable and just as happy on a cheese board (rolled in chopped nuts or herbs for a visually lovely boost) as mixed into a pot of pasta or any grain salad. Goat cheese crumbles add protein to salads, and a piece of goat cheese easily melts into any vegetable soup, giving it a silky, creamy finish.

Sheep: Heart Healthy
In addition to being high in protein and calcium like cow’s milk, sheep’s milk cheese can lower “bad cholesterol” because of its high level of heart-healthy fat. It also tends to be even easier on the digestive tract than goat cheese because of its high whey protein content. 

Many feta cheeses are made from sheep’s milk and are delicious additions to grain dishes, salads or crumbled over soup or chili. Pecorino, the famous Italian cheese and a flavorful substitute for Parmesan cheese in pastas or vegetable recipes, is also made from sheep’s milk.

Vegan: Non-Dairy
Hear me out, folks. For reasons ranging from health requirements to ethical preferences, some people just don’t do dairy. Aren’t we lucky to live in a time when “cheese” can be made of nuts, soy (tofu) or root vegetables, and can add flavor and creamy texture to our meals and snacks? Most vegan cheeses do not easily melt, so focus on adding a slice to a sandwich, or setting out a wedge to spread onto some crunchy crackers.

Do you enjoy cheeses made from animals other than cows? What are your favorites?

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