This is a blog from the archives that I wrote about a year ago. Interestingly, although I stand by everything that I said back then, very much in line with my husband’s more in-depth exposé “Milk Manifesto” (it’s a great article, I highly recommend it!), my conclusion to “take it” is much more moderate than it had been back then.
My own preference has become more of the “leave it for the most part when you can” camp (long adjective, but I mean it quite sincerely!) as I use dairy much less in my current recipes than I used to! My shift stems from my concerns for the environmental impact of the global dairy industry on our planet, and my own attempts to be part of the solution and opt for a more plant-based diet, whenever I can, while still staying true to my culinary delights. So I really should include an addendum to my Cuisinicity logo for it to say:
Love the Food that Loves You (and Your Planet) Back!
Nutritionally, milk and dairy are a good source of protein and calcium but, just as I had specified last year (that hasn’t changed), Milk & Dairy do not figure into my permanent links on the left side bar of this website. That’s because, as the title alludes to, as far as nutrition goes, you could literally…take it or leave it! The world’s best diets, producing the world’s best health (check out the Blue zones), do not tend to emphasize dairy, with rare exception. Some of the best diets include dairy, some exclude it entirely.
The whole food categories I chose to display prominently to your left so you can always access them (go ahead and take a look!) are veggies, fruit, beans, legumes, nuts & seeds and whole grains—That’s it!…And the reason I intentionally designed my website that way is that we can all agree, whatever our personal preferences or inclinations, that these ARE the staples of a healthy diet! Be it vegan, vegetarian, paleo, pescatarian, or omnivorous, the common denominator for a diet that will help us over a lifetime is comprised of that simple list that also happens to be most sustainable for our planet too! There is clear consensus on that!
Whether you want to add fish & seafood or poultry or lean meat or eggs or milk & dairy, or any combination of them to that list, is up to your own personal preference. As I wrote about last week, YOU’RE THE BOSS! My own preference is not to include any red meat, which is why you will NOT find it in my recipes because we just don’t eat it in the Katz family (as far as nutrition is concerned, grass-fed organic unprocessed red meat is OK in moderation).
Because Cuisinicity represents some 25 years of our lives, my cooking has evolved of course. More currently, I have evolved toward a more moderate use of milk, dairy and eggs in my more recent recipes–again because of my concerns for the environment but also for ethical reasons. That was in fact my new year resolution! But don’t get me wrong: I still make my beautiful recipes for organic poultry and for wild fish & seafood and I still use organic cage free eggs (preferably pasture-raised when I can find them) in my cooking and baking at times-they are absolutely delicious and nutritious as they ever were– but I make them a little less frequently. That just works for us!
Similarly for milk and dairy, I have many recipes that call for them (but not butter), and I still love them and I still use them from time to time when nothing else will do, culinarily! I find that for my Gratin Dauphinois, for example, only milk will do…and that’s that! Same for my Simply Spinach Dip where only plain Greek Yogurt will do the trick! Same thing for my recipes that call for a little cheese: Nothing else will do (I am French after all!). However, if I can easily replace the milk with plant-based milks without interfering with the flavor or texture, I will specify that in that recipe, so at least, you have the choice. There is no right or wrong, you choose, but every little change toward a more plant-based diet helps!
So if you are of the “TAKE IT” camp, read on and keep in mind moderation for our beautiful planet….
I use non-fat, organic dairy when it comes to milk & yogurt. This is to reduce or eliminate saturated fat which, despite clamor to the contrary (I know this directly from my go-to guy for all things nutrition), is associated with increased risk for inflammation, cardiovascular disease and chronic disease in general. My husband’s take on the dairy fat issue, recently updated here, is that any potential benefit of dairy fat is all about the “instead of what?” question. In the context of a typical American diet, where full-fat dairy calories might replace junk food, it might be a good idea. But in the context of a Cuisinicity diet where you get satiety from wholesome foods; where there is no junk; and where you get plenty of the most healthful fats from nuts, seeds, olives, avocado, and fish- the saturated fat from dairy might well do harm, and is very unlikely to do any good.
I use organic milk only, because it is certified to come from cows that are not treated with hormones or antibiotics, and that get plenty of fresh grass grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. I prefer it also because it is more humane to the cows, and if at all possible, I recommend it be from local farms. Here in Connecticut I recommend Smyth’s Trinity Farm and Freund’s Farm (we got a wonderful personal tour of their family-owned dairy farm last year). I think it tastes even better!
I use pasteurized only–never raw and this is why (click here). Although, again, if you know your local farm and its hygiene and care & health of the animals first hand, you can make an exception.
I sometimes use Lactose free skim milk, if need be, and I find that it works just as well in those recipes that call for regular milk, so if you are lactose intolerant or sensitive, please feel free to replace in my recipes.
Here are recipes that use fat-free milk: My Power Chocolate Banana Milkshake and Power Strawberry Banana Milkshake (WOW! you won’t believe the secret power ingredient in there!), Béchamel Sauce, Gratin Dauphinois, Corn Bread, Simply Porridge, Pumpkin Cinnamon Walnut Pancakes, Raspberry Crumb Cakes.
I sometimes substitute some of the sugar called for in a recipe with fat-free powdered milk as a source of natural sugar found in lactose to cut down on regular added sugar in some of my baked goods. I do that in my Soft Wheat Banana Muffins, Blueberry Corn Muffins, Chewy Granola Squares, Pumpkin Allspice Smoothie, Peach Flat Cake, Fresh Fruit Clafoutis, Mocha Brownie Bites, Chocolate Brownies. I also use non-fat powdered milk as a “creamer” directly in my coffee so it leaves the coffee piping hot and doesn’t “dilute” it down as skim milk would.
I like to use fat-free yogurt in a lot of my recipes, such as in my Fresh Fruit Trifle, Fresh Fig Custard, Peach Orange Smoothie, Carrot Bread with Honey Yogurt Dip, Spinach Dip, Strawberry Banana Panini, Apple Honey Panini. I also use low fat ricotta in my Pumpkin Honey Ricotta Muffins.
I do make an exception to my non-fat rule with cheese; when a recipes calls for cheese, I use the full fat variety. The reason why I do so is that I find the skim, or even part-skim variety to taste and “behave” like…well… cardboard (that goes for vegan cheese as well, I just can’t stand it!!). So, I like to use a very flavorful full-fat cheese intentionally so I can use it only sparingly (a little goes a long way!). In fact, I serve such a dish only once or at most twice a week so as to keep the saturated fat content of our overall diet to a minimum. Of course, every so often, a good goat cheese or brie with a crusty baguette and a glass of red wine is just what is called for on a date night with my hubby. I am French after all! Here are some of my recipes that use cheese: Galette with Caramelized Onions, Tomatoes & Goat Cheese, Fresh Tomato Olive & Basil Galette, Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip, Farro White Bean Risotto, Sneaky Cheese Pizza, Sneaky Macaroni & Cheese, Pumpkin Goat Cheese & Pignoli Galette, Chicken Parmesan, Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers, Gratin Dauphinois.
So, there you have it! If you decide to “leave it” altogether you will be just fine and in fact make a contribution to our beautiful planet but if you want to include milk and dairy in your diet, from time to time, and maybe with a little more moderation, I still have some wonderful recipes for you….so enjoy!
Love this post!!! First of all, so informative.. but second of all, so great to see so many wonderful recipes you have come up with, with and without dairy. I love all of these so much!
I love almond milk. Can it be used instead of cows milk in your recipes?
Catherine Katz says
Yes sometimes, but not always–it really depends on the particular recipe so you should double check for each one if I give that as an alternative! I hope this is helpful!
Caryn Hartglass says
Hi Catherine, I appreciate you allowing us to have this dialog. I can’t argue with you if you are comfortable with the way dairy cows are treated. I read the humane guidelines that one of your links led to and I am not comfortable with the treatment. Also, there was no description in those guidelines about how the artificial insemination is done. If you know how the farmers do this and are comfortable with it, there is nothing I can say. Personally, I would not want to be made pregnant artificially, have my baby taken away from me and made to share my milk with other species. There really is no kind way to do this. It is exploitation. Sure, some of these “humane” farmers exploit cows in a way that is less violent than in the industrial farms, but in my opinion is still cruel and unnecessary, especially with all the wonderful, healthier, gentler on the planet plant-based alternatives available. With those simple feelings, I choose not to consume animals or their bodily fluids. I don’t consider my actions extreme. I believe exploiting animals is extreme. Would you want to be treated this way? Would you want to live your life this way? I respect all living things on this planet and do not feel we have the right to exploit animals for our desires. – Caryn
Catherine Katz says
Caryn, I so respect your gentle views and I do agree for that reason alone a plant-based diet is best. I strive to achieve it as much as I can. For one thing, I do not eat any red meat for just that reason. It’s a work in progress. I am scheduled to have a private tour of an organic farm in Connecticut at the end of May and I will be diligent in checking out the way the cows and their babies are treated.
Darlene Weathers says
I have lived in nine states and in many rural areas on the East Coast. I have never seen a farm mistreat a cow. I am so confused by the recent war against milk by vegans and others. These cows are not “raped” at all. Does anyone who writes this think that you can make a cow have sex? Most animals naturally procreate when the hormones in them direct them to do so. If we want to have an intelligent discussion about milk and cows and the environment, I wish the extremists would get more informed before speaking. I don’t know if they have ever been on any of the hundred farms out here in the east of the U.S. because the farmers I know treat their animals extremely well and even love them. I drink milk and eat butter every day and I think we have more dire things going on in the environment than the farmers raising cows and milking them. Thank you for writing this article that says, Take it or leave it! I so appreciate your balanced approach! Dar Weathers
Catherine Katz says
Thank you so much Dar! I appreciate your input. I am investigating this further just to be sure.
Darlene thanks also from me!- Caroline Yourcheck
Catherine Katz says
I have researched this topic online and over the last couple days have personally interviewed several local farmers, as well as the Chief Science Officer of the Dairy council. I have also arranged a farm tour in the Spring to see first hand how this industry operates. As a result, I am reassured that conventional farmers treat their cows well and understand that the industry has adopted care guidelines, through their National Dairy FARM program (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management), that is implemented with third party verifiers just to make sure of that.
I care about the welfare of animals too (the main reason I do not eat mammals) and chose to publish your post for that very reason. I didn’t have to “approve” it and make it public but felt such a discussion is an important one to have when thinking about where our food comes from and about the sustainability of our choices. I respect your choice to “leave it” but unless I find out otherwise, I will continue to “take it” myself.
Again, thank you for letting me know your view.
Thank you very much for responding so quickly and for taking a good look into the treatment of dairy cows!! I too will “take it”.
The reason I don’t “take it” is primarily because of the cruelty involved even with dairy from organic farms. The cows must be raped (made pregnant) and deliver her baby so that she can produce milk to be stolen feom her for humans to use. The calf is taken away within 48 hours of birth and is usually confined and poorly fed during its short life before becoming veal. The cow is slaughtered and made into hamburger once she is considered “spent”. There is nothing in the organic certification that prevents cruelty to animals. Raising cattle is also devastating to the environment. Since even Catherine admits we can all do well with or without dairy, I choose to leave it because of the cruelty and environmental destruction involved. I also don’t believe it is a healthy food. I have interviewed Dr. Katz and over 400 other food experts on my show IT’S ALL ABOUT FOOD and am convinced that dairy is a bad choice on many levels. Fortunately the plant kingdom is vast and we can have our “cake” and eat it too by leaving out dairy.
Catherine Katz says
It is so upsetting to hear and I am going to look into it personally. I have heard otherwise (https://www.reedyforkfarm.com/469/our-visit-with-humane-food-finder/, https://auburnpub.com/lifestyles/some-farms-respect-animals/article_3ec7c8d6-492d-5ae0-95fe-a1925e724891.html) but if it is indeed the prevalent practice in commercial organic farms then, you are right, it is not worth it, no matter how nutritious milk is (and that, it is indeed, based on the peer-reviewed literature), and I will do my homework to find out. I actually purchase my milk from a local farm here in Connecticut where I know they treat their cows humanely. I didn’t specify that because that’s just the one I know here in my area and I thought it would not be relevant to my readers in general. I should have, and just now added a sentence to say just that, so people can look into local farms in their own area, at the very least. One of my readers owns a local farm, I am not sure where exactly, and commented on the beautiful care of his own animals, and I know it to be true. You can read his comment above–his name is Greg. Thank you so much for sharing.
I too did not know about the inhumane treatment of “milking cows” that your reader mentioned!! I was under the impression that no animal is hurt so felt comfortable drinking as much milk as I wanted!! I will wait for your post to find out the truth. Thanks for looking into this. Also, I have attached a “prank/funny” video with a powerful message about where our food actually comes from. I believe most people are caring and loving toward animals but simple do not make the connection between the food they eat and how it gets there. If maybe PETA or another animal rights organization could run TV ads with a similar message as this video and actually make the connection, I would think that most people would have the same extreme reaction. It might be a powerful way to begin weaning our country off of so much meat!!
Forgot to attach the link:
Catherine Katz says
YES NATALIA!!! I always love love love seeing your beautiful name appear on Cuisinicity! You are definitely my biggest fan!!!
Natalia Katz says
I will take it! What a great post! This features some of my absolute favorite recipes 🙂
I too am a “take it” milk person. As a child, milk was the only beverage I ever drank. I attribute my high bone density to that childhood habit and still love the taste! I’m thrilled to hear there really is no good, scientific reason to give it up!! I use cheese the way you do. It always has to be full fat with full flavor used sparingly. Thanks again to you and your “hubby” for sharing all of your nutritional and health knowledge. I learn something new every time!! I love it!!
All the best,
Catherine Katz says
Thank you Caroline! We are exactly on the same page!
We do drink raw goat milk here at our farm because I know my goats are healthy and well fed (organic pasture/organic feed and non – gmo feed) plus they are well cared for by me! I also make cheese, yogurt and ice cream – only in season Spring through Fall. I know the saturated fat is a bit higher but I feel the good outweighs any possible bad – no ill effects at this point, plus the wonderful side effects that sun, cool breezes, beautiful countryside, hard work and a job well done provides my soul. Thanks for the recipes and your thoughts – G
Catherine Katz says
Of course Greg! In fact I was thinking of your beautiful farm and your well-cared for animals and pastures when I wrote this post, and wished we could all have access to your wonderful products. It makes all the difference in the world!
Susan A. Katz says
Love your insights into healthy eating! Thanks for another great piece!
Catherine Katz says
You are most welcome “my” Susan!!