Goat Cheese on Toast. Recipe x Five Ways

Chèvre 

If you haven’t had chèvre, you’re missing out. Chèvre is the French word for goat, and it’s the spreadable kind of tart cheese that tastes wonderful on toasted bread, baguette or bagel. Drizzle a little honey over it, and now we’re talking.

The versatile goat cheese can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as an hors d’oeuvres. It’s a great alternative to cream cheese if you want to add a bit more earthy depth to your morning bagel.

A little goat story

Since I always like to understand what I’m eating, I researched this French staple. The artisanal cheese making process has been around for thousands of years. France is the #1 producer of (pure) goat cheese with over 3,000 goat cheese producers.

Billy goat
Happy goat grazing and not minding a pat on the back

Did you know goats produce cheese 7-8 months in a year? This is different from cows, which can be milked year-round. Goat’s milk is therefore in season during the months of March through July. Goat cheese has a short aging process of a few days to a few weeks.

If aged for a few days to one-week, the milky goat cheese is similar in character to that of cream cheese. If the cheese is aged 2 weeks or longer, then you’ve unlocked a more intense taste with a crumbly texture and a yellower color. You’ll often find chèvre in a cylindrical form.

The process of making chèvre involves the coagulation of milk, solid cheese curds are drained through a cloth, the curds are poured into molds, later drained and dried, salted, and then left at a controlled temperature to age the cheese.

Cheese that doesn’t quite melt

An interesting fact. Chèvre will go soft, but it will not completely melt when heated. This is something you may notice when making flat bread pizza with goat cheese.

Better for lactose sensitivities

Goat cheese is easier to digest. Goat’s milk is lower in lactose compared to cow’s milk, and more importantly goat’s milk is naturally homogenized and has smaller fat globules vs. cow’s milk. This aids in easier digestion, especially if you have some sensitivity to lactose.

Fancy up Breakfast or Brunch

You can buy classic chèvre at most any grocery store, and you’ll find different variations of goat cheese like the offerings from Vermont Creamery, ranging from honey, blueberry lemon thyme, and pepper jelly to herb de provence, peppercorn, and cranberry orange cinnamon.

If you want to make a gorgeous little meal, it takes no time at all. You can accompany your cheese on toast with a mixed green salad. For brunch or lunch, pair it with a glass of sparkling wine or rosé.

Note: For gluten sensitivities, I highly recommend Vermont-based Against the Grain baguette, or the more readily available Udi’s Delicious Soft sliced bread.

Toast with cheese and raw honey
Spread goat cheese on toast, and take a tablespoon of raw honey and drizzle over the top.

Toast with tomatoes and fresh basil
Take sliced artisanal bread and toast. Spread a generous layer of goat cheese and layer on slices of tomato and chopped fresh basil.

Toast with fresh fruit
Chop up fresh fruit from your local farmer’s market. Layer on the goat cheese and top it all off with berries and tart apples.

Beets and orange with chèvre
Earthy beets and orange segments on goat cheese smeared toast at The Press Cafe

Toast with beets and oranges
Earthy beets and citrus orange segments pair well together when layered over goat cheese on toast.

Smashed avocado and cheese
Take a ripe avocado, and smash it up with a fork. Spread it first on the toast and then crumble some goat cheese over the top. Toss a handful of red pepper flakes, crack some sea salt, and drizzle extra virgin olive oil.

If you have other chèvre toast making suggestions, please share in comments.
Bon appétit!

5 Time-Saving Habits for Busy Moms

This Week’s Fiver:
Live Smarter, Not Harder

While motherhood is a blessing and full of interesting life plot twists and turns, the every day can be maddening. It’s important to live smarter, not harder. The quality of your life, your relationships, and what you build for yourself should take center stage.

Social media feeds (aka Instagram) give the illusion of care-free luminous moms with perfect nails and complexions, accompanied by equally beautiful (well-behaved) children in matching outfits. There’s a lot of work behind the scenes.

Here’s this week’s Top 5 list dedicated to badass moms everywhere.

1) Get moving in comfortable shoes

While chunky heels and stilettos look fantastic on date night, start a healthy habit and keep your feet happy.  Whether you work at the office or are a busy SAHM with a million errands, invest in a good pair of sneaks or loafers.

Allbirds have become the darling in NorCal, and for good reason. For in/out of the gym, you can traverse around in Allbirds wool runners or their new tree runners. And for everyday footwear, the wool loungers are equally comfortable. Marketed as the “world’s most comfortable shoes,” they may not be far off from the truth.

If you’re looking for a bit of panache and want something unique, then check out Sevilla Smith for some earthy sounding “handlasted shoes.” These handcrafted beauties come in care worn colors and can give you some street style cred.

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2) Invest in a backpack

That’s right. You can relive your youthful days carrying a brightly colored Jansport backpack. Backpacks provide a lot more room and pockets for ease and accesibility. For moms with babies and toddlers, I highly recommend the black quilted Skiphop forma backpack. It comes with a diaper changing pad (also doubles as a laptop compartment), pockets for bottles, bottle brushes, wipes, and even your S’well water bottle for the gym.

If you want something a bit more utilitarian with color options, then Herschel backpacks are a great alternative. You can go basic black with the classic backpack, or explore the different laptop friendly styles, designs and colors.

If you’re loving the backpack but want something smaller and splurge-worthy with long slouchy handles, there’s the Rag & Bone Pilot backpack. This basic black looker projects elegance and quality. But, it can set you back $650.

Either way, don’t overload your backpack. Be mindful of your back and posture.

3) Make a 5-minute breakfast

I can’t start my day without breakfast, and I like to find healthy-ish options for my family.  A quick, satisfying breakfast is none other than a breakfast bagel. As my partner in crime has gluten sensitivities, I’m always on the lookout for delicious, gluten free options. I recommend Brattleboro, Vermont-based Against the Grain bread products. You can find Against the Grain bagels in the freezer section of Whole Foods and many health food stores. Quickly defrost the bagel in the microwave, slice it in half, and pop into the toaster at a low setting.

Make it fun for the kids by dressing up the bagels

  • Avocado toasted bagel. Slice (or smear) half an avocado onto toasted bagel slices, sprinkle some TJ Seasoning Salt and fresh cracked pepper. Drizzle one tsp of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Strawberry preserves & Daiya cream cheese bagel. Spread Daiya (vegan) cream cheese onto toasted bagel slices. Then spoon out some strawberry preserves. I’ve been loving locally produced Strawberry-Rhubarb preserves.
  • Banana and crunchy almond butter bagel. Spread crunchy (unsalted) Almond butter onto toasted bagel slices. Then lay out generously cut banana slices over the top.

4) Stick with a regular routine

There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re all over the map. Choose a regular routine and stick with it. You can have a weekday and a weekend routine. That way, you can focus on balancing the best bits of yourself on your loved ones, and feel like you’re living each day productively and with purpose.

Take time throughout the day to take intermittent mental and physical breaks. Successful, productive people benefit from focused work interspersed with solid breaks. There’s plenty of literature and studies that highlight the importance of work-life balance to avoid burnout.

In a bestselling book High Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success co-authored by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness, they provide insights into the habits of successful people (including world-class athletes). Stulberg and Magness extol the benefits of designing your day around optimal routines, living with purpose, and steps to avoid burnout. The simple winning formula put forth is that of stress + rest = growth.

5) Audiobooks for self-growth

When your plate is full chasing after kids and working throughout the day, you resign yourself to the fact that your time is no longer your own. Reading is on the back burner and your Kindle seems permanently powered down. It’s time to enliven your morning drives. Or while at home or at the gym, listen to a couple chapters of an audiobook.

As someone who used to read for hours with a flashlight under her blanket at night, I no longer have the waking hours and attention to read through large bodies of work.

New Audible (US) subscribers can get 2 free books  (hit trial link below)

A great hack is to subscribe to Audible, so you can enjoy the latest bestsellers and go on a journey of self-discovery and improvement. My audiobook wish list is full of self-help literature, fiction and history books. If you’ve never tried Audible, you can check out a free trial to give it a go.

Whatever you do for reading material, keep your mental game sharp and motivate yourself through the power of positive thinking.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s fiver.

Need a healthy habit? Avocado Toast

By Vivian Lee

The Humble Avocado Toast

Avocado toast with a medium or soft boiled egg appeals to my Seussian sensibilities. I am picturing Green Eggs & Ham and substituting it with this heart healthy beauty. Why the obsession with the avocado toast? In its simplicity (and glory), this little meal is raw avocado smeared on perfectly browned toasts topped with a pinch of cracked pepper, seasoning, and a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. You can make your avocado toasts even daintier by cutting them into beautifully thin triangular toasts. Want to make an Instagram masterpiece? Amplify the composition of the avocado toast by going the extra gourmand mile.  But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about why this is the perfect meal or snack.

Nutrient Dense

Avocados are a stone fruit. Yup, that big round stone in the center takes up precious real estate in an otherwise creamy fruit. It’s supposedly the only fruit that contains a healthy dose of MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids), and not to be confused with that delightful muffaletta — a meat-lovers sandwich of Creole origins.  So I digress!

Avocados (as you probably read or have been told) are nutrient dense fruits and contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals. You can toss out those vitamin supplements (I guess this is a subject for a future post). Much has been written about the humble avocado. Having read multiple books on nutrition, including Joel Furhman’s The End of Dieting: How to Live for Life, Forks over Knives, and How Not to Die by Michael Greger, there are some obvious conclusions on the benefits of avocado consumption done in moderation. While there is conflicting evidence-based research when it comes to the benefits and limits to avocado consumption, in its natural state not overladen with heavy guacamole (chip n’ dip) situations, it’s safe to say that you are doing your body good by having an avocado toast.

Blue Zone Approved

Dr. Greger on his NutritionFacts.org site validated claims that the avocado has anti-inflammatory effects and research showing that it can actually help to lower cholesterol and triglycerides. If you ever read Blue Zones by Dan Buettner, there is plenty of evidentiary literature that discusses the benefits of extra virgin olive oil as a healthy plant-based oil. A drizzle of that is Blue Zones approved.

If you’re concerned about weightier matters, then go sparingly on the olive oil and don’t overdo your avocado consumption just because of the stated health benefits. Moderation and lowering daily stress are key facilitators of healthier living. With our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and lack of regular daily physical activity, it’s even more critical to be mindful of what we put into our bodies.

The Good Egg

What about the eggs you say? Eggs are a great source of protein (in moderation please). The whites of the egg are said to be a great source of selenium, vitamin D, B6 and B12. And, you can find mineral composition of zinc, iron and copper. Eggs are good for the eyes as they contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are helpful in combatting macular degeneration. Yep! As we age, our eyesight goes. Eggs are also sources of cholesterol, so don’t go creating a leaning tower of eggs on your toastie.

Avocado Toastie Recipe

Want to make your own avocado toastie? Pick two slices of your favorite toasting bread. I personally love the Udi’s Delicious Soft White (GF) bread for toasting. Set the toaster to a higher setting if you want a perfectly crunchy brown toast.

Make sure the avocado you use is nice and ripe. Slice into thin slices (or you can mash it up with a fork). All depends on your preference. Place the avocado slices on each of the toasts and take half of a boiled egg and place it on top. Then crack some fresh ground black pepper and throw a couple pinches of TJ’s seasoning salt. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top, and you’re good to go!

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of bread
  • 1/2 ripe avocado (thinly sliced)
  • Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Pinches of Trader Joe’s Seasoning Salt (all-in-one savory mix of granulated onion and garlic, sea salt, paprika, celery seed, nutmeg, and dry mustard)
  • 1 boiled egg (soft or medium) optional. Halved for presentation.

Other avocado toast

BTW, this image was taken at The Press Cafe. But you get the gist. Avocado toasts are easy to make and consume. And if you want to fork out $6 or more, you can get a delicious avocado toast at one of your favorite local haunts.

Enjoy happy, healthy eating!