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(photo by Elizabeth Brown)

I absolutely love the taste of blue cheese, but I haven’t eaten it in ages because it just seems like one of those foods that provides so much fat (73 percent of its calories come from fat) that it’s difficult to justify eating it.

But someone tempted me with the smell the other day. It’s a strong smell that you either love or hate. Since smell is the closest link to memory, it only takes a few whiffs for the memory of that taste to hit my tongue. To make matters worse, the only vehicle this person had for eating this lovely blue cheese was wheat bread.

I have celiac disease, which means that I’m severely gluten intolerant and should not eat wheat, rye, or barley, or anything containing any gluten derivatives. Needless to say, I just avoid all processed foods. Well, I try to avoid all processed foods. However, like most normal human beings, sometimes temptation gets the best of me.

Unlike an allergy, which can cause immediate hives or swelling of the tongue and even anaphylaxis leading to death, an intolerance presents various reactions in the intolerant individual. For me, the symptoms don’t present themselves for about a day.

So, I caved in to the wafting aroma of blue cheese. At first it was just a half piece of bread with a little blue cheese. Then it was a whole piece of bread with more delicious blue cheese. It tasted so good going down that I didn’t care about how it would affect me.

Generally, when someone has an intolerance one of the first places it wreaks havoc is in the digestive tract. The digestive tract starts in the mouth, so the damage may occur on the tongue and all the way through to the upper and lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Along the way, that intolerable food causes an immune response resulting in an inflamed GI tract.

When the GI tract is inflamed, it does a less than perfect job at keeping potential invaders out of the body. It also does an inadequate job of absorbing nutrients. The result might be a depressed immune system and the potential for nutrient deficiencies down the road.

The day after I try to beat the odds by ingesting a gluten containing food, I literally feel like I’ve been hit by a Mack truck, or at the very least, like I’ve been drinking. I feel hung over. If my inhibitions persist and I eat more offending foods, I will break out in rashes at nearly every joint in my body. The itching is so powerful that I literally can’t stop scratching. I have to take a Benadryl, sleep it off and try to learn from my experience. It didn’t go that far this time. This time I decided to turn a craving, and a love for blue cheese, into a recipe that I can enjoy in a less painful way.

To make amends for my intestinal infraction, and to keep my palate safe and satisfied, I felt compelled to make a creamy, low-fat blue cheese dressing that I could use to top a nutrient dense spinach and mushroom salad, or as a dip for sliced carrots and celery. One serving of this recipe provides more protein than an egg and less than 1 gram of fat for a mere 51 calories. The same 1/3 cup serving of full-fat blue cheese dressing provides half as much protein along with 42 grams of fat and 417 calories. I actually did not really realize just how bad blue cheese dressing is until I looked closely at these nutrition facts. Wow!

Iron and calcium are two minerals that are often at risk of being deficient in a celiac’s diet. The final recipe provides ample amounts of both of these nutrients, along with serious quantities of vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, B12, vitamin C, folate, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium and zinc. I feel like I have given my body the nutrition it needs, the taste it deserves, and a literal reprieve in the process.

Creamy, low-fat blue cheese dressing

Ready in 5 minutes. Makes 7 servings. Serving Size: 1/3 cup. Calories: 51, Carbs: 3.6g, Protein 7.6g, Fat: 0.7g, Sodium: 160mg

1 cup cottage cheese

1 cup Greek yogurt

2 T chopped shallots

1 clove garlic, minced

2 T blue cheese crumbles

1 T brown rice vinegar

Combine everything in a food processor or blender and pulse to combine thoroughly. Taste and adjust flavors as needed. Serve over leafy greens of your choice or use as dip for veggies or as a condiment for a fresh roast beef sandwich.

Elizabeth Brown, The Kitchen Vixen, is on a mission to save the world, teach you something new, and prevent food-borne illness, one recipe at a time. To learn more, please visit her website: www.TheKitchenVixen.com