Kitchen Shrink: Got goat milk?

Dear Kitchen Shrink:

I have trouble doing dairy, whether it’s a sensitivity to cow’s milk or a lactose intolerance. I’ve tried non-dairy alternatives, everything from soy, almond and cashew milks to oat, rice and hemp, but they don’t seem to have the taste or texture I crave. Any suggestions for yet other alternatives would be much appreciated.

Julie Costello

La Jolla

Get your goat: A member of the bovidae family, whose relatives include sheep, cows, deer and antelope, goats were the first animals to be domesticated by humans circa 10,000 B.C., and to be used for their milk. Here’s why: Goat’s milk contains a different strain of the protein casein, along with less lactose (milk sugars), both culprits in cow’s milk that cause gut disturbances, including bloating, gas and diarrhea.

This double boon makes goat’s milk tolerable to many people who have sensitivities, allergies or lactose intolerance to moo milk. Goat milk is naturally homogenized, meaning it has smaller fat molecules, as well as softer and smaller casein curd than cow’s milk, making it closer to human milk in its composition, and more easily digestible. While goat’s milk can be digested within 20 minutes, the cow counterpart can take three or more hours to digest, fermenting in the large intestine, wrecking havoc on the poor gut.

Nutritionally, goat milk contains more essential fatty acids than cow’s milk for cellular development; 13 percent more calcium for boosting bone health, particularly for warding off osteoporosis in menopausal women; 47 percent more Vitamin A for ocular and skin health; 25 percent more Vitamin B-6 to dial up cardiovascular, nerve and immune systems; a load more of the mighty Vitamin D warrior for calcium absorption and cancer prevention, fluid balancing potassium, along with important trace minerals, such as copper, antioxidant manganese, heart-healthy magnesium and anti-carcinogenic selenium.

Free-range herbivore grazers, goats nibble on a diet of natural vegetation, and don’t do drugs — including Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) and antibiotics, typical injectables for conventional cattle. Finally, chalk up another point for goat milk, since it is alkaline, while cow’s milk is acidic, the latter contributing to heartburn or GERD, particularly with the consumption of sour cream, ice cream and other dairy products.

Goat goodies: Goat milk can be enjoyed fresh refrigerated, in powdered form, or evaporated in a can. Try cultured goat kefir, a refreshing and tart probiotic, immune boosting powerhouse; fruity yogurts; lightly salted butter; or the variety of cheeses from creamy chevre (French for goat), raw milk feta, and mozzarella to cheddar, Muenster or Colby-Jack.

Goat milk and other spin-off products are as scrumptious in sweet breakfast dishes and desserts as they are in appetizers, side dishes, soups, salads and entrees. Bake a batch of cranberry goat cheese scones, or whip up goat frittatas or quiches. Blend chilled goat yogurt soups with melons, berries, cucumbers or avocados, or a silky green goat kefir smoothie.

Toss Greek or Cobb salads with crumbled goat feta, or concoct bruschettas with Kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes and melted goat mozzarella, along with pizzas and flatbreads, stuffed shells or lasagna, chicken breasts Cordon bleu-style.

For sweet endings, try a riff on carrot cake with a goat cream cheese icing, cheesecake, flans, parfaits or sorbets.

Some will find the taste of goat milk and cheeses unusual and musky, so scope out brands with milder flavors like products from the breed of Nigerian Dwarfs.

Heirloom Tomato & Goat Cheese Salad

Serving Size: 4 people

Ingredients:

4 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced

1/3 of a red onion, sliced paper-thin

4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar

4 ounces of crumbled goat feta cheese

Handful of fresh basil leaves

Coarse sea salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

Arrange tomato and onion slices on a serving platter. Sprinkle with basil leaves and goat cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Finish with salt and pepper.

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