Happy goats at Redwood Farm in Sebastopol.
David Bice showing us a goat milk storage tank.
Mango, orange, pineapple goat kefir.
What is Kefir?
Kefir is a drinkable yogurt having many health promoting benefits due in part to its content of "live cultures". These live cultures are called "probiotics" and are the friendly bacteria commonly found in our gastrointestinal tract. A common intestinal bacterium is lactobacillus acidophilus. This and other friendly bacteria are essential for good health as they keep bad bacteria and yeast in check and boost our immune systems. They are especially important after taking antibiotics since this medication will kill the beneficial bacteria allowing the bad ones to flourish. This is the reason many people get a yeast infection or thrush after a course of antibiotics. Taking kefir can replenish your intestinal bacteria, but if you are taking it while on antibiotics, it is better not to drink the kefir at the same time. For example, if I were to take an antibiotic in the morning, for maximum benefit I would drink kefir in the evening. Acidophilus themselves have antibacterial activity and also help produce some B vitamins as well as vitamin K.
Goat kefir is more easily digested than kefir made from cows milk. Many people who are lactose intolerant can tolerate goat kefir but each individual is different. Goat milk products are high in calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B2, potassium and are a good source of protein.
Although I am no stranger to goat yogurt, I was recently introduced to this delicious and healthful drink by David Bice during my visit to Redwood Hill Goat Farm in Sebastopol, California.
My Visit to Redwood Hill Farm
I stopped drinking cows milk over 20 years ago and only use cows milk products, like parmesan or fresh mozzarella cheese on occasion. I feel much better about goat milk products, both from a health and a humane standpoint. Dairy farms tend to be larger and more "corporate". Goat farms tend to be family run where the goats are well cared for and happy. My opinion on this was certainly confirmed after visiting Redwood Hill Farm. Redwood Hill Farm and Creamery was started by Kenneth Bice in 1968 and is now run by Jennifer Bice, the eldest of his 10 children. Besides their delicious goat milk products (cheeses, yogurt, kefir), I was impressed by how devoted this family is to their animals. Each of their 300 "named" goats is loved and well cared for. It's hard not to fall in love with these little creatures. They are playful, curious and very affectionate. These goats are "certified humane raised and handled" which is a program intended to improve the lives of farm animals. The certification guarantees that the animals are not in cages, have ample space and shelter, handled in a manner to prevent stress and are never given growth hormones or antibiotics.
David Bice was kind enough to give us a tour of the farm and the milking facility. He then brought out a chilled bottle of their mango, orange, pineapple goat kefir. It was amazing! The goat milk is not homogenized or over processed. They don't add sugar or any preservatives. And although it is not a "raw food", it is a "living food" as is contains 10 live and active kefir cultures. Their yogurt and kefir products are available throughout the U.S. in Whole Foods and other health food stores. You can buy their amazing cheeses, including a "raw milk feta", on their website (www.redwoodhill.com).
I immediately started to develop recipes using this healthful product. Here is a chilled soup recipe that can be enjoyed on a hot summer's day.
Cantaloupe Soup with Mango, Orange, Pineapple Goat Milk Kefir
[makes 4 one cup servings]
A 3 pound cantaloupe, seeds removed
1 1/2 cups mango, orange, pineapple goat milk kefir
(or use 1 1/4 cups plain kefir with 1 tablespoon orange concentrate and 1/4 cup fresh mango, pineapple or a mixture of both)
6 drops of liquid stevia or 1 tablespoon of raw local honey
Scoop out the cantaloupe and place in a blender with stevia or honey. If you are not using the flavored kefir, put the orange juice concentrate and fruit in the blender also. Blend until smooth but don't over process. Add the kefir and pulse until well mixed. Serve in a tea cup garnished with a sprig of mint.
Per serving: 129.5 calories, 3.3 g fat, 1.9 g saturated fat, 7.5 g cholesterol, 3.9 g protein, 23.5 g carbohydrates and 1.3 g fiber.