Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rethinking my relationship with dairy

I've made no secret to the fact that I love dairy. Milk I can do without ( mahalo soy and rice ) and my ice cream obsession has been conquered ( thank you again, Turtle Mountain ). However, My greatest challenge seems to be cheese. I love cheese. (It might be my favorite thing in the whole world.) For years during my late teens and early twenties I boycotted the creamy greatness because I believed that fat would make me fatter. Once I gave in, not only did I start shedding pounds I also discovered the inner foodie in me. Over the last ten years I became a cheese expert. My first love started with tangy goat cheese, then I discovered triple creme and the great stinky world of blue. THEN, I got into wine....really into wine. But, not in a snobby twirly glass kind of way ( wine people sort of bug me ....and I think nothing is better than finding a great bottle for under $10.) But, I have an impeccable "nose" for it....I dream about an ashy Humbolt Fog paired with a crispy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a spicy Black Bean soup with Shiraz.
However, unlucky for me, my body started to reject my most favorite treat. No longer could I enjoy a artisan cheese platter and not deal with my bloated crampy belly. Already a long time vegetarian I started accepting the fact that going vegan was a no longer an option, it was a must. My struggle with veganism has gone on for about 5 years. I can go several days cheese free but as soon as I'm out eating at a local bistro I always end up with the Feta laden Mediterranean Platter or a colorful raw salad with Gorgonzola crumbles. But, when I eat cheese in this sense (like when the cheese is only an minor ingredient to a dish oppose to a dish devoted to it like a quesadilla or phyllo baked brie ) I do seem to escape all the nasty side effects. So, what should I do about this? Do I give in and enjoy this treat every now and then? But, what about the other issue I have with dairy?? ( like the hormones they pump all the animals with and the rennet that is added as a curdling agent....yuck yuck yuck! ) But, what if I did my best to stick with the organic, local or even raw varieties of cheese? I'm pretty lucky because one of my favorite dairy farms of all time is right here on Maui! It's called Surfing Goat Dairy and it's "Ping Pong Balls" and "Napa Wraps" are to die for! http://www.surfinggoatdairy.com/. Plus, the little goats that make the cheese couldn't be cuter! I've driven by the farm in Kula several times and it's refreshing to see that the little goats seem to be very happy grazing about their huge yard over looking Maui and her neighbor islands. So, when I can... I purchase cheese from this dairy farm. They carry Surfing Goat Dairy at most the health food stores on island. So, not only do I feel great about the happy goats but Goat Cheese has very little effect on my stomach. This is a type of dairy product I think I can justify consuming ( local, free range and low in lactose.)
So, if I decide to give into dairy does this mean I have failed at my quest to become vegan ( or raw vegan?) Well, I think yes and no....First of all, I eat mostly raw dairy free meals for breakfast and lunch. If I eat anything cooked it is usually for dinner and that goes with my cheese treat as well. Several days of the week I consume no dairy at all. So, this is my take.....I don't want to have to be too rigid with my diet. I would say that 90% of time I choose very healthy, organic and whole foods to put into my body. I think people can get too carried away with eating too healthfully. I don't want to stress about things like this. I've read several books, blogs and editorials regarding raw foodism and I'm sorry but I have to say that some of these people sound a bit fanatical. I don't want to be this. What's the point right? Food is meant to be enjoyed and shared...Aloha
Sample of my diet from yesterday
Breakfast -* Berry Smoothie* ( coconut water, juice of 2 tangelos, 2 handfuls of mixed berries like blue, marion and raspberries, 1 large frozen sliced banana, 1 packet of Stevia)
Lunch-(more like a snack) handful of cashews and dried mangoes
Dinner-Spinach and Goat cheese quesadilla ( heavy on the spinach ) with homemade salsa roja
*Mostly Spinach and Goat Cheese Quesadilla* enough for about 4 individual quesadillas ( see photo above ) VEGETARIAN
1 med size package of frozen organic spinach ( when eating spinach always make sure it is organic!)
1/2 Maui onion diced
1 Tbsp organic olive oil
salt ( I used Fleur de Sel ) and pepper to taste
1/2 cup creamy fresh Goat Cheese ( or more for a cheesier quesadilla )
Fajita size whole wheat flour tortillas.
Saute onion in olive oil in a med. size pot until translucent, add defrosted and drained chopped spinach, salt and pepper. Stir fry over med heat until cooked through 3-5 min and mix in Goat Cheese. Next, spread the mixture on a one flour tortilla and top with a second. Place on hot skillet or grill pan until the spinach an cheese mixture is hot and the tortilla is slightly crispy.
Slice into 4 triangles
*Quick Salsa Roja* VEGAN
Two 14 oz cans drained organic chopped tomatoes
1/2 Maui onion
1/2 of a lime squeezed
1 clove of garlic
1tsp Red Wine Vinegar
hot pepper of choice~I used 4 hot Hawaiian peppers
2 tsp organic olive oil
Salt ( I used Fleur de Sel )
Place all in high speed blender for about 30 seconds. Salsa will be thin and creamy orange/red looking


  1. hey mandy, how many slices of the quesadilla do you normally have? it looks delicious.

  2. The whole thing...absolutely:-)

  3. Oops sorry, I mean do you have all four pieces (as featured in your picture) or is one piece = one serving of quesadilla?