I have a confession to make. I, Claire Ragozzino, am a goat cheese addict. Okay, addict is an overstatement. But about once a year I get in the mood for goats milk kefir and feta, and I eat it for about a month until I become tired of the dairy and go back to being dairy-free again. There’s nothing wrong with that, right? Well for a long time I felt like it was my dirty little secret that I had to hide.
But since I’ve started coaching clients to help them create seasonal, balanced nutrition plans, I’ve started to discover that we all share this addiction for cheese. And we all share this quiet shame about it. I want to liberate us from this thinking and take this time to talk about the benefits of goat milk products and why – if you’re a cheese lover – you can have your cheese and eat it, too!
To Dairy or Not To Dairy?
I’ve avoided dairy as a diet staple for almost a decade now and have not missed it one bit. The horrors of the commercial dairy industry – from the conditions of factory farms, to the hormones and antibiotics in the milk – are enough to make most give up their 2% right away (or at least I hope). Mandatory pasteurization of cow’s milk destroys any beneficial enzymes or bioavailable nutrients found in healthy raw cow’s milk According to NIH studies, the practice of homogenization further mutilates the chemical integrity of milk. The fat globules are pressurized so that they become small enough to be in suspension throughout the milk, without separating into cream. This makes the fat and cholesterol more susceptible to rancidity and destroys the colloidal structure of the milk. When the fat has been removed from the milk, such as in 2%, 1% and skim milk brands, our bodies are unable to assimilate the fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients naturally found in dairy. The consumption of skim and 1% milk has even been shown to cause more weight gain than whole milk.
Raw dairy is the ideal here, what we used to drink when we had milking cows and goats of our own – way back in the day that is. Raw milk contains the enzyme lactase which helps breakdown lactose, the sugar in milk. Additionally, an enzyme in the butterfat called lipase aids in fat digestion and assimilation of the fat-soluble vitamins. But these are lost in the commercial pasteurization process, which is why you hear of people becoming “lactose intolerant” when their bodies aren’t able to produce extra lactase to break down the pasteurized dairy product. Raw dairy is technically illegal, so you can’t buy this at your typical grocery store. You’ll have to find a local CSA, a really great farmer’s market, or make friends with a farmer to get your hands on a rich raw dairy to take home.
Raw Cow vs. Raw Goat
So we’ve established that raw milk is best. But we can go a step further and discuss whether to opt for cow’s milk or goat’s milk. For me, when I do want to enjoy dairy, I prefer goat’s milk because I feel lighter and find it moves through my digestion quicker. Here’s why: Goat milk contains less lactose (milk sugar), less casein (milk protein), and measures to be more alkaline than cow’s milk – which simply makes it easier on our stomachs all around. Goat’s milk also has higher levels of short- and medium-chain fatty acids, rendering a faster and easier digestion process as well as producing quicker energy. According to a study conducted by the University of Granada, “Goat’s milk could help prevent diseases such as anemia and bone demineralization. Goat’s milk was found to help with the digestive and metabolic utilization of minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.”
Sold on goat’s milk yet? If you’re working to make small shifts in your thinking and eating, perhaps give goat’s milk products a try next time. If you’re able to support a small, local farm in the process it’s even better. While I think all dairy is best enjoyed in small amounts, a well selected goat’s milk yogurt, kefir or cheese can be equally as healing if this is what your body is needing in the moment. Use your intuitive wisdom when it comes to deciding whether raw dairy is right for you or not – this recipe is wonderful with or without it.
WILD RICE, WATERCRESS & BLACKBERRY BALSAMIC SALAD
Blackberry Balsamic Dressing
½ cup fresh blackberries
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp Himalayan pink salt or sea salt
pinch black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender, puree until creamy. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge until ready to use.
1 cup cooked wild rice
2 cups watercress
½ cup fresh blackberries
¼ cup chopped mint
¼ cup pumpkin seeds or walnut pieces
Optional: crumbled goats milk feta or ½ chopped avocado
To make the rice, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add ½ cup of wild rice + 1 tbsp olive oil to the boiling water. Reduce heat and simmer on medium for 30-40 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
In a large bowl, add the watercress, blackberries, mint and wild rice. Toss with the dressing and finish with a sprinkling of nuts and feta (if using).
Note: Use your intuitive wisdom when it comes to deciding whether raw dairy is right for you or not – this recipe is wonderful with or without it!