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Louisa Shafia

For The Lactose Intolerant, and Those Who Love Cheese, Look to Goats

I recently got a sample of different goat cheeses from Firefly Farms in Maryland, a small farm that produces award-winning handcrafted cheeses. To my surprise, I’m struck by how much they taste just like cow cheese, except with a cleaner flavor and a lighter feel.

From the sweet, moist chèvre to the rich, salty blue cheese to the decadent, soft-ripened round, these cheeses have none of the grassiness that goat cheese is sometimes known for.

There’s been more interest in goat cheese recently because of the many people with lactose intolerance who can’t digest the fat molecules in cow dairy. Goat cheese, goat milk, and goat yogurt can be good options for the lactose intolerant, as the sugar molecules in goat dairy are relatively small, making it easier to digest. Interestingly, the growth hormones that are routinely injected into cows have never been developed for goats, so all goat dairy is hormone-free. It’s supposedly higher in calcium and B vitamins than cow dairy, too.

As for the taste, goat cheese has a refreshing flavor that’s tangier than cow cheese and less sweet. Despite its creamy texture, it reportedly has fewer calories than regular cheese. After eating a few pieces of each of the various cheeses, I don’t have that sluggish feeling that usually comes over me when I indulge.

Look for goat cheese at natural food stores, and definitely at farmer’s markets. There are lots of small goat farms around the country that produce high quality dairy and sell their products locally.

Here are some no-fuss ideas for how to use chèvre style the goat cheese:

  • Crumble it onto salad
  • Spread it on grilled vegetables
  • Break it into pieces and cook in omelets or frittatas
  • Crumble it over berries with a little lemon zest and honey
  • Blend it with melted chocolate or pureed fruit, and honey or sugar, and freeze into popsicles

Louisa Shafia is a cook with a passion for healthy eating. She recently penned Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life, a collection of seasonal recipes and eco-friendly advice on food. To watch her cooking videos, see her recipes, and find out about her cooking classes, go to lucidfood.com.


9 Responses to “For The Lactose Intolerant, and Those Who Love Cheese, Look to Goats”

  1. Susan Helbig says:

    I am a HUGE fan of FireFly Farms cheeses. So glad to see a national mention of their deliciousness :)

  2. Emily Newman-Edwards says:

    Love FireFly Farms!! They have some of the best goat cheese available and are a great Maryland small business.

  3. Hi Rachel, You have done so much for people with your show and writing, As a goat cheesemaker, I would love to see the products promoted more, but hope that you don’t mind a correction. In addition to having a licensed cheese facility I am a also the author of two books on the subject, and a writer. Just to clarify, lactose is milk sugar and goat milk has as much of it as does cow and sheep milk. People who are truly lactose intolerant (meaning they lack the enzyme lactase that is able to split the sugar) cannot handle goat milk or fresh cheeses from either species. You are correct in pointing out the more easily digestible fat in all goat products, however. Also, aged, semi-hard and hard cheeses from any breed contain virtually zero lactose, so can be enjoyed by those who cannot have fresh products.
    Keep up the good work!
    Gianaclis

  4. Lee says:

    You need to do some research.
    Lactose is a sugar and has nothing to do with the size of the fat molecules.

  5. Emily Brown says:

    If you want to sample amazing, award winning goat cheese, combined with the most animal-friendly farm I could dream of, please, Rachel, check out Split Creek Farm in Anderson, South Carolina. WORLD award-winning and also produces Grade A Goat Milk…

    I bet Buddy could make an AMAZING Goat Milk BUTTERCREAM!!! YUM!!!

    PLEASE come visit!!!!

  6. Helena says:

    Thank you so much for this great post! I am lactose intolerant and have loved goat cheese and yogurt my whole life. These days you can even find goat cheese ice cream, goat cheese fudge, goat cheese caramel- you name it!

    In fact, I am currently working on a documentary about the dairy goat industry and its importance to the national food industry. Check out our website: http://www.goatshowdoc.com. We frequently post information on different goat producers and test out different recipes using goat products. We just posted a new recipe review of Grilled Portobello Mushroom Goat Cheese Pitas: http://goatshowdoc.com/2012/06/11/grilled-portobello-mushroom-goat-cheese-pitas/

    Keep spreading the goat cheese love! It is such a good alternative to cow’s milk products, even if you aren’t lactose intolerant! :)

  7. Lissa Howe says:

    I believe there is a typo in the second paragraph. Lactose is a milk sugar (not a fat) that some people have difficulty digesting. It is and true that the fat molecules in goat milk are smaller and easier to digest!

  8. Split Creek Farm has award-winning Chevre and Feta, also yogurt and fudge, all made with goats milk. Located in Anderson, SC it’s a small jewel of the south!

  9. I’m sorry, I wrote that people with lactose intolerance have trouble digesting the “fat” molecules in cow dairy, but what I meant to write was the “sugar” molecules. Thanks everyone who pointed out the error, it has now been corrected!

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