Next week is Thanksgiving, can you believe it? This year the pressure is on as it will be my first year to plan the entire meal and cook the famous bird to moist perfection. I don’t know about you but growing up our household was always stressed out during the holidays. Now, that I am a mom I understand why.
Cleaning, decorating, cooking, and extra obligations make for long to do lists. And then there’s the stress of timing everything right. You know the “every one is hungry but the turkey isn’t ready” time. Family and friends have gathered and every one is politely catching up but secretly the only thing we are thinking is “When will it be time to eat?” Okay, maybe it’s just me. This is the time I dreaded the most as a kid. The hard work was done, the food was mostly ready but we had to wait to eat. And usually because of all the chaotic prep work ahead of time, this was also the time that I would realize I hadn’t eaten anything all day.
Sure, there was always my mom’s relish tray to snack on but pickles and olives just don’t do the trick when fluffy buttered mash potatoes, seasoned stuffing and tender turkey smells are floating through the air.
So since this will be my first year cooking the turkey, I’ve decided to come up with an AMAZING “this is better than turkey” appetizer. Because who knows what time my turkey will be done. 😉
When I thought about appetizers there was only one that came to my mind that I absolutely had to make. Goat Cheese Artichoke dip. YUM!
You see back in MI there was a favorite restaurant I loved to go with my girl friends called the Electric Cheetah. They had the best spinach goat cheese dip EVER. Every time my friends and I ordered this dip it would be devoured in minutes. Warm garlic cheese with a blend of goat cheese and heaven made the appetizer pure magic.
I knew that if I could recreate it…..no one would be wondering when the turkey would be done on Thanksgiving day. 😉
The only problem – we are dairy-free. Ah…yeah, that’s a problem. But where there is a will there is a way.
So, dairy-free for our family means no cow milk…MOO. It’s so funny because even our two year old will say, “Mama, I can eat this cause it’s not dairy.” And I’ll respond, “Yes, that’s right, carrots are dairy-free.” 🙂
My personal journey with dairy
Having a milk allergy is one of the top allergies among children and adults. But don’t get hung up on the word, “allergy.” For my husband eating hidden dairy means instant stuffy nose and congestion while more severe symptoms (if he consumed large quantities) can include horrible stomach pain and discomfort.
For me, I would categorize myself as more of an intolerance. A little here and there isn’t going to kill me or send me rushing to the bathroom. But eating daily definitely affects my gut. I find my gut more susceptible to bloating, inflammation which than triggers a sluggish metabolism, weak immune system and constipation.
In fact, the biggest turning point for me was shortly after I came home from college my freshman year. You see I never liked drinking milk even as a child. By the time I was in middle school, I stopped drinking milk but still ate ice cream, yogurt, cheese and ranch. It wasn’t until a feeling of intense fire in my stomach that woke me from a dead sleep and a Dr’s visit did I realized I had a dairy intolerance. My Dr. also wisely encouraged me to cut out all dairy as my gut was severely inflamed.
Due to the severe discomfort I mostly followed my Dr.’s orders.
What was even more amazing than my severe stomach pain subsiding was the fact that I began losing stubborn weight gain. Remember, I had just returned home from my first year of college and like most students I gained my freshmen 15. My parent’s fridge held healthier choices than the school cafeteria so I naturally lost the first 5 pounds within weeks of being home. But that’s where my weight loss ended. I began working out again. Surely, exercise would help me lose the last 10 pounds? Months passed but the scale didn’t move.
However once I eliminated dairy out of my diet, my body responded positively. My last 10 pounds came off. You see my gut had become so inflamed that my liver and metabolism had become “burden” in a sense and couldn’t do their job of metabolizing food, absorbing nutrients and flushing out what my body wasn’t using. From then on, I was convinced that avoiding dairy for me was a WIN/WIN. Did I continue to eat dairy after that…yes but I was much more conscious to avoid it.
When I married Todd and we found that he had severe allergy to dairy it was a no brainer to eliminate it from our diet. Cheese by far was the hardest thing for me say good-bye too. I should clarify that an allergy to milk and being lactose intolerant are two different things.
But then we discovered goat cheese and it has become the perfect substitute.
Why Goat Cheese?
Here’s the scoop on goat cheese. Technically, goat cheese is STILL dairy. However, many people who are allergic or sensitive to cow’s milk can handle goat cheese. Why? It all has to do with the the animal that produces the milk. Although cow milk and goat milk contains almost the same level of lactose their fat molecular structure is different and some researcher’s believe this is one reason that people can tolerate goat’s milk easier than cow’s milk.
Cow’s have a longer fat molecular structure than goats do making the protein in cow milk harder for our bodies to digest. Researchers also believe it has to do with the difference in the animals own digestion process. Cow’s have 4 stomachs that they pass their food through while goat’s only have one like us. Again, this slight difference makes goat milk more compatible with our ability to digest it than cow milk.
Overall, goat’s milk can be a great alternative. Of course, like any other food be sure to listen to your body and know what it can and can not handle. But if you can eat it, here are some of the great benefits to eating goat cheese.
Health Benefits of goat cheese.
There’s two great reasons for you to start eating more goat cheese even if you are not allergic to cow cheese.
- Goat cheese is higher and richer in the following vitamins than in cow’s milk: vitamin B, vitamin A, riboflavin, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
- It has fewer calories than cow’s cheese. Goat cheese has 75 calories per ounce which is much less than it’s popular competitors like brie at 95 calories, mozzarella at 85 calories, cheddar that has 115 calories and Swiss with 108 calories.
- All in all… goat cheese gives you the most bang for your “bite.”
Here’s how to make your own Goat Cheese Artichoke dip:
Recipe lightly adapted from Foodnetwork.com
Also, just to let you know you can find more great clean, gluten-free and dairy-free recipes for your Thanksgiving feast at this link:
I would love to hear from you. If you give this recipe a try, please let me know by giving the recipe a rating and leaving a comment.
Looking for more Thanksgiving recipes? Why not check out my pumpkin soup recipe here?