Excellent Primer on Real Foods, Where to Find Them and How to Use Them!

All the ingredients for soaked and cultured pancakes--delicious and nutritious!

All the ingredients for soaked and cultured pancakes–delicious and nutritious!

If you are keen on where to begin on how to use real foods–maybe you’re even wondering where to FIND real foods–then you’ll want to invest in the fantastic education from Kelly the Kitchen Kop.  And, through the weekend of Thanksgiving here in the US, you can purchase Kelly’s trainings at HALF OFF!  Simply enter BLACKFRIDAY as you check out.

What will you receive in Kelly’s trainings?  Here’s a breakdown:

For the Real Food Ingredient Guide E-book, you’ll find:

This revised version is cram-packed with new information.  What I’m most excited about is that it’s set up in a way that gives you exactly what you want in whichever format you need it in at the moment…

  • It has a newly revised 7-page quick reference guide for when you want fast answers to questions like,
    • Will you please just tell me what I’m supposed to buy?!”
    • Or when someone puts you on the spot and you need a quick reminder of “What was so bad about that food again?
    • Or maybe when you’re at the store you might need something to flip to for guidance there on various ingredients, including “good, better, best” options.
    • It’ll also help you know what to look for at your local farm and what questions to ask.
  • It has a more detailed section with facts on the different food groups and ingredients, for when you have time to dig in a little more, and it includes information on where to go for even more in-depth reading and research.
  • If you’re more of a visual learner, you’ll find an easy top ten real foods and top ten junk foods list in pictures.
  • It also includes new bonus material:  How to bring your family from junk food to real food, and how to overcome the six main obstacles everyone faces:
    1. Motivation – You won’t be willing to make a change if you don’t understand why it’s so important!
    2. Confusion/feeling overwhelmed – You’re probably sick of trying to navigate all the information from the ‘experts’ like what’s ‘good’ vs. what’s ‘not good’, especially when that keeps changing; and you just want to figure out the age-old question of “What the heck can I eat?!”  Especially before meal planning or grocery shopping…
    3. How to afford real food – You’ll learn loads of tips all in one place.
    4. Dealing with family complaints – This can wear you down at times, so I’ve got ways for you to get past this one!
    5. How to make time for real food – There are so many ways that I’ll bet you’ve never thought of!
    6. Sticking to it for the long haul – This is often what trips people up.  Life gets in the way and you find yourself slipping backward.  You’ll learn here how to prevent that from happening or how to get back on track.

And, for Kelly’s Real Food for Rookies Online Class, you’ll receive:

  • 12 weeks of online classes with videos, downloadable audios, and written materials.
  • LIFETIME access! Read/listen/watch at your leisure: on your break at work, while the kids are sleeping, in your pajamas, whatever! If you have a busy week, no big deal, just pick it back up on your own schedule.
  • Exclusive expert interviews with Sally Fallon Morell (President of the Weston Price Foundation), Dr. Kaayla Daniel (author of The Whole Soy Story), Jane Hersey (Director of the Feingold Association), Tom Naughton (Fathead filmmaker), and now one more: Jimmy Moore from the Livin LaVida Low-Carb blog!
  • BONUS: Free copy of the Kitchen Kop Real Food Guide
  • Save time and money while serving Real Food
  • Read labels and avoid dangerous ingredients
  • Make nourishing “fast food” meals to avoid last-minute trips to the drive-thru
  • Find healthier alternatives for soda pop, refined sugars, heart-killer oils, sugar-bomb breakfast cereals, factory farmed meat and more
  • Serve nutrient-dense foods that are necessary for good health
  • Take control of your health and change your family’s future!

Both of these tools are invaluable in your journey to greater health and empowerment for yourself and your family.  It takes a village to recapture  the information that’s been lost over the years in regard to how to take care ourselves with nutrition, and Kelly’s classes and information are priceless in their role of keeping you well!  And, from Thursday, November 28th until Monday, December 2nd 2013, you can get these classes and information at half price, by entering BLACKFRIDAY as you check out.

Wishing you the best!  Here’s to your health and the health of your loved ones!

How to Make Butter | Slow Food International – Good, Clean and Fair food.

Straight from Ireland, land of grass-a-plenty and happy cows, simple instructions on how to make butter in your own kitchen!

How to Make Butter | Slow Food International – Good, Clean and Fair food..

Sprouted and Cultured Spelt Pancakes


Delicious cultured and sprouted spelt pancakes, cooked in pastured beef tallow and filled with organic blueberries

Delicious cultured and sprouted spelt pancakes, cooked in pastured beef tallow and filled with organic blueberries

Who doesn’t love pancakes?

On a Saturday morning, they are an absolute delight, topped with butter, yogurt, maple syrup, fresh fruit, honey, molasses…or enjoyed as-is!  And, if enough are prepared, they make an easy snack or a yummy breakfast reheated in the toaster oven the next day.  Who wouldn’t love that?

I expect you’ll love this recipe as much as we do, if you’re wishing for some pancakes, but would like a healthier version.  Using the principles of predigestion by fermentation, these pancakes are nutritious, filling and they keep the body’s energy more even than the usual pancake.  While spelt is not gluten-free, the carbohydrates in this recipe have been broken down tremendously by way of fermentation, a la water kefir (my go-to homemade fermented beverage that has 101 uses.)  This process makes the pancakes less of a blood sugar spike, especially when paired with lots of butter or whole fat yogurt.  Soaking the flour in water kefir also breaks down various anti-nutritients, including gluten, helping you to get the most nutrition from the spelt. And from a flavor standpoint?  These have a similar flavor profile to sourdough–absolutely delicious!

And how the heck does one make pancakes from flour that is already wet?  Well, by way of mixing all the other ingredients and then incorporating them into the soaked and fermented flour, an even distribution of all ingredients is easily had. Just follow the directions below and enjoy!

Sprouted and Cultured Spelt Pancakes

Makes approximately 16-5″ pancakes
  • 2 1/2 cups Sprouted Spelt Flour
  • 1-1 1/2 cups warm, filtered Water (105 degree Fahrenheit range)
  • 1/2 cup fresh Water Kefir
  • 1 1/2  cups Whole Milk, preferably raw
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup Ghee (clarified butter) or Coconut Oil
  • 3 tablespoons Raw Sugar or Coconut Crystals
  • 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 tablespoon Real Vanilla Extract
  • Fat or oil for the griddle (Pastured Lard, Coconut Oil, Pastured Tallow, Ghee)

The evening before you plan to make your pancakes, in a large, glass mixing bowl, add the warm water and water kefir to the flour.  Mix all ingredients well, then cover with a lid and set in a warm environment.  I use my yogurt maker, plugged in, with the the dome lid removed and the bowl resting in the top of the maker.  You could also use a dehydrator with the trays removed, and set to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  If you don’t have either of these, use a microwave (turned off!), oven (turned off!) or ice chest–what you need is an incubation chamber, and it should have at least a couple of bottles filled with hot water to keep the air temperature warm.  (The beneficial bacteria and yeast in the water kefir like a warm temperature to function and thrive, so keeping the air  warm will allow for more breakdown of the complex carbohydrates into simpler, easier to digest sugars.)  Plan to keep your flour soaking and fermenting in the range of 6-10 hours.

When you’ve finished the first stage of soaking and fermenting, you’ll likely notice a tart, lively smell as you remove the lid and see that the batter has risen–lacto-fermenation!  In a separate bowl, combine all the remaining dry ingredients and mix well.  In another bowl, add all the remaining wet ingredients and mix well.  Add the dry to the wet ingredients, mix well and incorporate them into the soaked flour.  You’ll likely notice the batter rising substantially as the baking soda comes into contact with the fermented grains.

Heat a griddle or frying pan to low-medium heat, and add your choice of oil or fat to coat the cooking surface.  Once a drop of batter bubbles on the oil, add a ladle of batter, letting it cook until bubbles appear throughout the pancake, then flip over.  These pancakes will be more moist than those made with dry flour, so be sure the heat isn’t too high so that the pancakes have an opportunity to cook through on both sides without burning.

Top immediately with butter  and any other accompaniments of your choice–maple syrup, yogurt, yacon syrup, molasses, fresh fruit are great choices.  Or, if you’d like to save them to reheat later, simply set them on a plate, and stack each with a piece of parchment paper between, to keep them from sticking to one another.  Store, covered, in the refrigerator and enjoy within a few days’ time.

Pancake ingredients, step one! Water kefir, warm water and sprouted spelt flour.

Pancake ingredients, step one!
Water kefir, warm water and sprouted spelt flour.

Pouring in the water kefir to the flour and water.

Pouring in the water kefir to the flour and water.

Consistency of batter after water and water kefir have been added.

Consistency of batter after water and water kefir have been added.

Sprouted spelt batter with water kefir, resting and warming on the yogurt maker.

Sprouted spelt batter with water kefir, resting and warming on the yogurt maker.

Sprouted spelt pancake batter the next morning after a long, warm fermentation

Sprouted spelt pancake batter the next morning after a long, warm fermentation–notice how much it has risen overnight.  Thank you, beneficial bacteria and yeasts!

Sprouted spelt risen in the bowl, ready to add the other ingredients.

Sprouted spelt risen in the bowl, ready to add the other ingredients.

All the ingredients for the pancakes--delicious and nutritious!

All the ingredients for the pancakes–delicious and nutritious!

Dry ingredients with wet ingredients, added to the soaked and fermented flour.

Dry ingredients with wet ingredients, added to the soaked and fermented flour.


Consistency of batter as it's ready to cook...notice the bubbles of activity from the baking soda working on the fermented grains.

Consistency of batter as it’s ready to cook…notice the bubbles of activity from the baking soda working on the fermented grains.


Pancake ready to flip--notice the bubbles.

Pancake ready to flip–notice the bubbles.


Crispy on the edges, delicious on the inside...perfect sprouted and cultured spelt pancake!

Crispy on the edges, delicious on the inside…perfect sprouted and cultured spelt pancake!




Ferments and Culturing…How I love Your Ways

It may not look like much, but the fermentation and culturing happening here fuels our kitchen!

It may not look like much, but the fermentation and culturing happening here fuels our kitchen!  Shown here:  water kefir, ginger bug brew, raw milk yogurt in yogurt maker, sprouted brown rice incubating in second yogurt maker and fermenting with added water kefir.

I’ve been in the very good habit lately of leaning heavily on lacto-fermentation to pre-digest the foods our family eats.  Culturing, fermenting, sourdough-ing, kraut-ing…our kitchen has been a hotbed of activity, but not always a lot of elbow grease on the family’s part.

After spending the better part of this last year reading and re-reading The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz, I’ve felt compelled and encouraged to just sit back and let the bacteria do a lion’s share of the digestive work, so we don’t have to.  (The digestive equivalent of comfortably reclining, quaffing champagne and noshing bon-bons.)

And it has been a good move!

We had decided some time back to work on incorporating some grains back into our months’-long grain-free diet, and as with any move to eat grains, we did so with the expectation that they would always be properly-prepared by a long, warm-water soak before cooking.  The removal of various anti-nutrients by this simple first step is paramount to getting more nutrition from the grains, and mitigating the mineral- and protein-leaching that consuming unsoaked grains can lead to.

But adding in a little fresh culture to that warm, long watery soak–by way of  whey from yogurt or kefir, or a splash of water kefir–provided  the additional benefit of allowing the cultures to pre-digest the complex carbohydrates in the grains, leaving us with much more digestible simple sugars.  Yay!  And everything took on that wonderful, slightly-tart flavor of sourdough (and once a palate gets a taste for sourdough, anything less tastes bland and simple)–Yay again!  But possibly best of all, the grains didn’t feel like a brick in our bellies–even pancakes and hot cereal have been very well-digested, where we are full, but not at all bloated or logy.  Yay!

At one point last week, I counted 9 different ferments happening in our kitchen.  And while that certainly seems like a lot, it’s important to remember that the process of creating lacto-fermented foods requires time.  Rome may have not been built in a day, but culturing a quart of milk to become yogurt takes about a third of a day, and that’s a little longer than simply picking a container off the shelf at the grocery store.  But the benefits are innumerable if you do allow the time for your homegrown cultures to go to work for you.  Most commercially-prepared yogurt goes through a hastened culturing process, that does not allow for the more complete conversion of what are for many troublesome milk sugars (lactose)  into the gut-benefiting, probiotic bacteria.  And, if you have access to raw, grass-fed milk, then you are able to make a very nutritious food, indeed.

Similarly, making fermented veggies at home–most widely-known as sauerkraut–allows you to make a condiment teeming with beneficial bacteria, with the ingredients you choose.  Many people have issues with thyroid function–whether it be diagnosed or sub-clinical–and consuming raw sauerkraut of cabbage can actually further dampen thyroid function.  It turns out that the fermentation process does not degrade the thyroid-dampening effects of brassica-family vegetables, of which kale, cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower and many others belong.  Now, a little raw or fermented brassica veggies isn’t going to squelch most people’s thyroid activity.  But if a person is inclined to eat a few spoons’ full of fermented veggies in a day (read:  me), then, making a kraut that leans more heavily on other types of vegetation–zucchini and other summer squashes, carrots, cucumbers, onions, garlic, chard, lettuces–might be a good option.  Again, this just takes time to let those good bacteria do their good work for you.

And there are more ways we’ve been using the cultures…to make bread, to prepare beans for cooking, as a base for refreshing and calming drinks, in making pancakes, and even as skincare!  The ways to use them are only as limited as our ingredients on hand and our imaginations.  I’d love to hear from you on what you’re culturing and fermenting, what your favorite cultured foods are, how you’re using these foods in your life.  Please leave a comment or contact me–there is always more to learn and share!

Making Homemade Dairy Yogurt

Homemade yogurt

Wonderful homemade yogurt.
Photo courtesy of Vera Almann. 

Why Should We Culture Dairy Products?

• The culturing of dairy reduces the lactose (milk sugar) in the milk, transforming milk into a rich source of immune-building probiotics that is lower in naturally-occurring sugars and higher in Vitamins B and C

 • Culturing dairy generally makes it much more digestible by breaking down the casein (milk protein) that can be very troublesome for many

 • It also increases the enzymes in the milk (even pasteurized milk that is then cultured has a boost to its enzyme capacity), which helps to digest the components of the milk

This ancient way of preservation helped to create some of the incredibly nutritious foods our forefathers consumed. Regardless of whether or not there was an understanding of the healing byproducts of their preserved foods, they were an integral part of keeping them well. (There have been upsides and downsides to the advent of refrigeration and modern food preservation techniques!)

The easiest way to make yogurt is to purchase a yogurt maker, which is essentially an incubator that keeps the temperature at a stable 110 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature at which most thermophilic (heat-loving) cultures thrive.  This is not a mandatory tool, however.  Here are other options:

  • You can also use a mesophilic culture, which cultures dairy in the 70-78 degree Fahrenheit range.
  • You can use a different, stable heat source, monitored with a food thermometer, to keep heat in the 110 degree Fahrenheit range:
    • An insulated bag or ice chest, containing heated bottles filled with hot water
    • A food dehydrator with the trays removed, set at the 110 degree Fahrenheit setting
    • An oven or microwave warmed by its incandescent bulb, possibly with bottles of hot water to increase the heat if necessary
    • Set in the shade on a hot summer’s day (such as in the desert southwest)

In any of the above options, it’s important to start with whole, organic milk, preferably pastured, and raw if you can find it.  Avoid using ultra-pasteurized milk.  You can use goat’s, sheep’s or cow’s milk, though goat’s milk tends to make a thinner yogurt.  If you use raw milk, you’ll need to make a “mother batch” of starter yogurt, otherwise the innate bacteria in the raw yogurt will eventually weaken and override the yogurt cultures.

Visit Cultures for Health for instructions on how to prepare raw milk for a reusable cultured format.

You can also start a homemade yogurt from a small, fresh, 6-8 oz. container of organic, plain, live-culture, unsweetened yogurt.  Look for one without additional thickeners or gums.  You would then treat this as a thermophilic culture starter, adding the contents of the container to your warmed milk.  It will likely only produce one additional batch–if you want to do more, it’s better to use cultures designed for this.

Homemade Dairy Yogurt Instructions for Pasteurized Milk

Using a food thermometer, bring 1 quart of pasteurized milk to the proper temperature (160 degrees Fahrenheit for most thermophilic cultures)—you can set the thermometer in a pan with the milk and slowly heat it to its correct temperature.  Allow it to cool to its proper culturing temperature (105-110 degrees for thermophilic; 72-78 degrees for mesophilic.)  Although this milk has been pasteurized previously, simply bringing it to the proper culturing temperature is tempting fate…because the milk is devoid of its naturally-occuring beneficial bacteria and enzymes, it is a sugary substrate for potentially pathogenic bacteria to proliferate in warm conditions.  Better to first re-sterizlize it then allow it to cool to culturing temperature.

Remove from heat and pour into a glass, quart-sized jar.  Add your cultures and stir well to incorporate into the milk.  Cover with a paper towel and cinch with a rubber band.  Place the jar in an environment (incubator, oven, yogurt maker or on the counter) that is correct for the type of culture you are using.

After about 6 hours, check your yogurt to see if it has “set”—you’ll know, because it will all move as one unit away from the sides of the jar when tilted.  It will also take on a lovely tart smell.  If not, allow it culture for another hour or two, or even longer if necessary, but checking every hour.

(Note–If yogurt goes too long at the culturing temperature, it will become liquid whey and milk curds.  If this happens, you can strain off the whey and use it to drink, as a base for a smoothie, or as a wonderful soaking medium for grains, legumes and meat marinades.  The milk curds can be enjoyed as a thicker type of yogurt, or yogurt cheese, topping a salad.  I’ve had some success using yogurt that has differentiated like this to start a new batch of yogurt, though sometimes it’s best to just start over—you’ll just have to experiment and see for yourself.)

Whey and curds in yogurt

Notice the whey in the middle of the curds in this yogurt that cultured for too long

Once your yogurt has set, enjoy it immediately, or set it in the refrigerator to halt the culturing process.  Whenever you make yogurt, always reserve about 1/2 to 1 cup to start your next batch, following the same instructions of bringing your milk to the proper temperature, pouring it into a new glass jar, adding your existing yogurt, stirring, and setting it at the culturing temperature for 6-7 hours.

Turkey and Fermented Quinoa Patties

Sprouted Quinoa and Turkey Patties


These patties will be a lifesaver for you–they are a wonderful dish to have on hand for a quick reheat in the toaster oven, or as a protein entree in a brown-bag lunch (with a freezer pac!)

We love them straight off the griddle, paired with raw sauerkraut and a dollop of creme fraiche  (or, if you ask the kids, with organic ketchup!)  Another favorite is to break one up and top it with rich bone broth–such a nutritious meal!

They are just a handy, nutritious option that tastes great!  They are certainly worth the bit of time it takes to cook them, and even this can be shortened if you have a large griddle.

Turkey and Fermented Quinoa Patties

Makes approximately 28-30 patties

  • 4 cups cooked Quinoa (soak your quinoa in water and water kefir overnight before cooking)–I like to cook mine with bone broth for added flavor and nutrition
  • 2 pounds Ground Dark Turkey
  • 5 Pastured Eggs
  • 1 cup freshly shredded raw Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 teaspoons organic Poultry Herb blend
  • 1-2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 cup frozen, organic Spinach
  • Ghee, coconut oil or grass-fed Beef Tallow for the pan
  • 12″ fry pan

Combine all ingredients into a glass or stainless bowl and mix well.

Melt a tablespoon of oil in the frying pan over low-medium heat.

Using an ice cream scoop or serving spoon, make 3-4″ patties that are about 1/3″ in thickness–in a 12″ pan you should be able to fit 3 patties easily.  Cook for about 4 minutes on the first side, or until golden brown, then flip.  Allow another 3-4 minutes of cooking, then transfer to a non-plastic plate or dish.

Continue re-oiling your pan with each batch.

Patties store well in the refrigerator for 3 days, or in the freezer for 3 months for reheating in the toaster oven or in a pan.  Wrap separately in parchment paper and use heavy duty aluminum foil or a freezer-safe container for storage.


Freshly-shredded raw Parmesan


All ingredients in the bowl, ready to mix!


Everything ready to cook


Patties ready to flip…


…et voila! Crunchy, savory, nutritious patties, ready to enjoy or to save in the freezer for another meal!

Heavenly Cake!

Almond and coconut flour raspberry chocolate chip cake--Heavenly delight!

Our family has found a new favorite treat…and the fact that it is made so easily makes it a favorite of mine, for an entirely different reason!  Unlike many coconut flour recipes, this cake is light, not too crumbly, and wonderfully moist.  Once cooled, it has enough body to hold up to application of a frosting, though I love it just the way it is.

I use chocolate and raspberry as my distinctive flavors in this version, though you could certainly try blueberry with lemon zest, amaretto with dried cherries, fig with chopped pistachios…or just plain vanilla.  The options are only limited to your cupboard’s offerings.

This is not an overly-sweet cake, which allows the flavors of the ingredients to shine through.  It is subtle and yummy!

Since you’ll be working with coconut flour, it works best to allow all ingredients to set out and come to room temperature, lest the saturated fat content in the flour makes the batter difficult to blend.

Additionally, almond flour can be store-purchased, but I prefer to make mine fresh, using organic, soaked and dehydrated almonds that I grind in my coffee grinder just before use.

Freshly ground organic almond flour

Raspberry and Chocolate Chip Cake Made with Almond and Coconut Flours

Makes an 8″x8″ cake

4 Eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup Whole-fat, Plain Yogurt, room temperature

1/3 cup Coconut Sugar

1/2 cup fresh Almond Flour

1/2 cup Coconut Flour

1/2 cup fresh or frozen Organic Raspberries

1/3 cup Organic Dark Chocolate Chips

2 tablespoons Vanilla Extract

1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt

1/3 teaspoon Baking Soda


Preheat oven to 350 degrees, Fahrenheit.


Combine all dry ingredients in one bowl, and all liquid ingredients in another, mixing each well.

Separation of dry and wet ingredients for good blending


Include the chocolate chips and raspberries to the dry ingredients and coat with flour mixture.

Coating the berries and chocolate chips in the flours


Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry, and mix to combine.

Consistency of batter before baking


After greasing either a square or round 8″ baking dish with ghee or coconut oil, pour in the batter and smooth the top with a spatula.

Place cake in the center of the oven and bake for approximately 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Heavenly cake, fresh from the oven


Allow cake to cool in baking dish before removing to a non-plastic storage container and refrigerate.




For the Love of the Various Cheeses!

Cheese is a hot topic at our house—but I think that’s the norm, isn’t it? I have yet to meet a man or a first-grader who doesn’t list one of the countless cheeses as a top-5 favorite food.

And I’ve watched many a woman pondering, hovering, at the dairy cooler at Trader Joe’s  —“Should I go with the gouda, or goat brie? Maybe I should give this Camembert a try—I wonder how that would be with fruit?”

It’s serious business.

So, when I say it’s a hot topic at our house, I really do feel like I’m preaching to the choir. It’s just that on this issue (as numerous others), I feel like we’re singing a little different song.

Given my findings on the differences in the digestibility of different types of milk, I’m not one to run to just any grocery store and pick up just any old fromage. Often, I’m looking for something made from goat’s milk or a raw cow’s milk—both of which are rather tough to come by in the standard dairy aisle.

Studies have shown that goat dairy is much more digestible for most people than cow dairy, even when both are pasteurized (the pasteurization process for any type of milk, used to kill unwanted bacteria, also destroys inherent enzymes that would otherwise be present to help digest the milk. Pasteurization can also alter the proteins and sugars in the milk.)

This digestibility factor is huge, especially when one considers the amount of cheese that most families eat. In our family, it’s a part of lunch generally, is often handed out as a snack with a piece of fruit or a carrot, and sometimes even makes its way to the dinner plate.

If I’m feeding my family something that is a challenge for them to digest, multiple times a day, then I’m not doing anyone any favors.

Enter the goat—its milk has many factors that tend to make it a better choice for regular consumption. Here are a few reasons why:

• It is much lower in a substance called alpha-S1 casein, a protein that is a major allergen in cow’s milk.

• It naturally has much smaller-sized, evenly-dispersed fat globules than cow’s milk, which leads to a naturally homogenized milk (commercially-prepared cow’s milk is mechanically homogenized, a process that takes butter fat and transforms it into tiny spheres of fat containing a potent digestive enzyme that pass intact through the walls of the stomach and small intestine without first being properly digested. Once these enzyme-containing spheres enter the blood and lymph, the enzyme can come free from the fat and cut whatever vessel it is in. These micro-injuries to the vessel wall require cholesterol to repair the wound, leaving behind cholesterol plaques—hence, hardening of the arteries and other cardiovascular damage as the end result.)

• This natural homogenization of goat’s milk is due to the fact that the milk does not contain agglutinin, and when fat globules are not bunched together, they’re much easier to digest (and they don’t offer up the mechanical-homogenization problems listed with homogenized cow’s milk.)

• Goat’s milk also contains different types of fatty-acid chains—it’s higher in short- and medium-chain fatty acids than cow’s milk, which are more easily digested in the intestines.

• Goat’s milk tends to pass much more quickly through the stomach than cow’s milk, likely due to how its proteins react with the stomach acids—it creates a softer curd in the stomach than cow’s milk, making it more digestible.

(For more information on the effect of pasteurization on milk, see Ultra-Pasteurized Milk. This link will open to the Weston A. Price Foundation’ssite, an invaluable tool in understanding the effects of modern diets on our health. It’s also a great starting place to find sources of raw milk in your area.)

Thankfully, our family enjoys the taste of the various goat cheeses—2 staples are the imported Dutch gouda and the pre-sliced Dutch from Trader Joe’s. And I also love their goat brie—it’s a dream melted with fresh strawberries on the side.

But we also enjoy raw cow varieties—the issues related to homogenization and pasteurization are moot, making these choices much easier to digest.

Again, I really like the raw Gruyeres and Emmantelers from Switzerland and found at Trader Joe’s—although they’re not organic, they are rBST-free. And we are big fans of all the Organic Valley raw offerings, though these are quite a bit more costly. There are also raw artisan selections, crafted in smaller batches, that are a true treat when we find them.

Where do you find these types of prepared cheeses if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods nearby? Try using these tools to find sources near you (each of the following will open to new pages): Azure Standard natural food co-op is a great resource in the western United States; and the Coop Directory Service is a great locater of natural food cooperatives in your area; finally,Greenpeople.org lets you enter your zip code or region to find nearby cooperatives and natural food stores.

Once you’ve located a source, if you’re using a raw cheese, have gone to the trouble to procure it (and have likely paid a premium for it), keep it raw. Don’t cook your raw cheeses—you’ll destroy those lovely enzymes. Use a pasteurized goat’s milk cheese for that purpose (such as in an omelet or over steamed vegetables.)

My favorite cheeses, though, are made from scratch, using raw milk, sea salt and healthy cultures. It takes time to do this, and there have been many an instance where I ended up with a gallon of a cultured dairy delight that more closely resembled yogurt than cheese solids and whey. So, sometimes things turn out differently than I might have expected, but I’m never disappointed—just surprised!

There is something so very satisfying to my soul in taking fresh, raw milk that I’ve just received from a local farmer , pouring it into a big pot and adding cultures and rennet to make a lovely, homemade cheese. It just feels right—might be my Scotch-Irish DNA singing to me.

And should you decide to make your own cheese—well, let me tell you, folks are going to think you’re doing something mighty special at your house. And you will be. But the beauty of making cheese, especially a soft cheese as I’ve made time and again, is that it makes itself—just give it good ingredients, let it sit for a while, then separate the curds from the whey. (To this day, one of the dearest compliments I’ve received was when a neighbor tried my cheese. She’d lived for years in Italy and was familiar with hand-crafted food—and when she took a bite and smiled, “I haven’t had something this good since I lived in Italy,” I was over the moon!)

Cultures for Health  is an excellent resource for recipes and all the ingredients you’ll need (less the milk!) to make your own. From the reasons why you should bother, to supply lists, to the pros and cons of raw vs. pasteurized milk, to storage and aging, you’ll be in the know on making this delicacy at home.

I encourage you to consider these points and suggestions when you make your purchases—it may take some effort in finding a source near you, but the rewards are there, and once you get your sources down, it’s much easier.

And most definitely, do consider making your own cheese, at least once. Let me know what you learn, how it turns out and any other tidbits you feel like sharing. I look forward to hearing from you!