Q & A: March 20, 2011

Welcome to CHEESESLAVE Q & A! From now on, every Sunday, I will be answering your questions. I’ll answer as many questions as I can each week.

Welcome to CHEESESLAVE Q & A!

From now on, every Sunday, I will be answering your questions.  I’ll answer as many questions as I can each week.

If I didn’t answer your question this week, please check back next week.

Submit Your Question

If you have a question to submit, please email it to me at questions@cheeseslave.com.

If you have an URGENT question that you can’t wait to get answered, please post it on my Facebook page.  I tend to get on Facebook pretty much daily.  I can’t promise to answer all the questions on Facebook, but I try!  (Note: Do NOT email me on Facebook — I can’t get through my email on there!)

Question:  What Happens to Lactose When We Ferment Milk?

What happens to the sugars in milk when you ferment it? Turns into what?

— Scott


Hi, Scott!

Milk sugars found in milk and milk products are called lactose.  When we ferment milk, the lactose is converted to lactic acid.

As implied by the name “lactic cultures,” they belong to a category of microorganisms that can digest the milk sugar lactose and convert it into lactic acid. For the cells to utilize lactose, deriving carbon and energy from it, they must also possess the enzymes needed to break lactose into two components sugars: glucose and galactose. Some representative strains are Streptococcus lactis, S. cremoris, thermophilus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, L. acidophilus, and L. plantarum. (Source)
Lactic acid was refined for the first time by the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1780 from sour milk… In 1856, Louis Pasteur discovered Lactobacillus and its role in the making of lactic acid… Lactic acid is found primarily in sour milk products, such as koumiss, leban, yogurt, kefir, and some cottage cheeses. The casein in fermented milk is coagulated (curdled) by lactic acid. Lactic acid is also responsible for the sour flavor of sourdough  breads. This acid is used in beer brewing to lower the pH and increase the body of the beer. (Wikipedia)

Here is a link to a chart of Nutritional and Chemical Composition of Kefir on Dom’s Kefir Site.

Question:  What’s Wrong with Chocolate and Why is Carob Better?

My question is why do you feel cocoa/chocolate should be minimally consumed? What are your thoughts about using raw cacao powder/chocolate?

— Leesie

I got a related question on my Facebook page, so I’ll include that here:

“What advantages does carob have over chocolate (besides lacking caffeine and theobromine?)”

–Cultured Mama


There are two reasons to avoid chocolate:  caffeine and theobromine.

Probably the most controversial of theobromine effects is that it can cause some people to feel hyper and then lethargic, in a very similar way to caffeine. Also, theobromine can cause headaches in some individuals. There has been some debate as to whether or not caffeine really exists in chocolate. Some scientists believe that it is the theobromine which is solely responsible for its caffeine-like effects. (Source)
The main chemical substance in chocolate (theobromine) is exactly the same as caffeine except for one atom; and like caffeine, it also affects the body in serious ways. This family of chemical substances (which include caffeine and theobromine) can cause or contribute to imperfect balance, racing heart, insomnia and sleep disturbances, bedwetting, fatigue, obesity, dizziness, irritability, agitation, anxiety, acne, and more. Source

Sure, there is not as much caffeine in chocolate as there is in coffee, and most people don’t start their day with chocolate like they do coffee, but chocolate is still a psychoactive drug, which is why we need to avoid it.

Check out this post I wrote to learn more about why caffeine is really bad for you. Also, click here to read how I quit coffee with no withdrawal symptoms — with the help of a cheap amino acid supplement.

Raw cacao powder also contains caffeine and theobromine just like cocoa powder.

So what’s so good about carob?

In addition to not having the negative effects of chocolate, carob is very nutritious. Carob contains as much Vitamin B1 as asparagus or strawberries; as much niacin as lima beans, lentils, or peas; and more Vitamin A than eggplant, asparagus, and beets. It also contains Vitamin B2, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and the trace minerals iron, manganese, chromium, copper, and nickel. It contains approximately 8 percent protein and is a good source of fiber. Compared to chocolate, carob is three times richer in calcium, has one third less calories and seventeen times less fat.

Please note: If you are on the GAPS diet, carob is not allowed.  However, cocoa is allowed on the full GAPS diet. So if you are on the GAPS diet, that would be one reason to use cocoa instead of carob.

I also want to note that I do have some chocolate recipes on this website. That is only because I have not yet had time to test the carob versions. I want to do that in the future.

Also, check out this awesome post on how to make homemade carob chips — which you can use in place of chocolate chips.  I want to try it!

Sorry guys — that’s as much as I can get done today! I’ve had some busy weekends lately. More answers to come next Sunday!

Got a Comment?

I don’t claim to have all the answers.  And I love hearing from you guys!  If you have feedback on any of the above questions and answers, please share your thoughts n the comments below.

Got a Question?

Please submit your questions to questions@cheeseslave.com. I’ll answer your questions every Sunday in the order I receive them.