Low-Lactose Fresh Milk Now in Israel

Are you lactose intolerant?
Fresh, lactose-free milk has been sold in the US for years. And now it’s finally available in Israel. Tnuva’s low-lactose 2% milk, packaged in their familiar liter cartons, is now in the dairy case of most stores. It contains only 1 gram of lactose per cup (200 ml), which makes it nearly lactose-free.
Until now, I’ve been buying lactase drops (from Canada) and treating every liter of milk that we buy. Since I’m extremely intolerant to lactose, I was a little hesitant to try “low-lactose” milk.  But I can drink it with no problem at all. And it tastes normal – not like the low-lactose 3% milk that’s sold here in shelf-stable boxes.
This is a welcome treat for those of us who enjoy drinking and/or cooking with cow’s milk, or don’t particularly enjoy soy, rice or almond milk in our coffee. It’s also another good source of calcium for those of us who might not be getting enough.
By the way, even if you’re lactose intolerant, you may still be able to eat some dairy products, like yogurt and hard cheese. Start by eating just a little. Or try eating dairy products together with non-dairy foods. You’ll have to try different dairy foods in various amounts to know what you can tolerate.
Tnuva lists a number of their dairy foods that are low in lactose. The follow contain no more than 1 gram of lactose per 100 ml/gm:
Diet Yoplait
Yoplait 360 (probiotic drink)
Pirius Bulgarit 5% (hard white cheese)
Emek 9% Cheese
Emek  cheese “fingers”
Shock 20% less sugar (chocolate milk)
Unless a company markets the fact that their products are low in lactose, it’s hard to know if they might agree with you or not. I know, for instance, that I can easily digest Activia yogurt, while other yogurts sometimes cause bloating and discomfort. 
If you’ve shied away from dairy because you’re lactose intolerant, this may just be the time for you to try the new low-lactose milk and some of the other low-lactose dairy products now being sold in Israel.  
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Macaroni and Cheese

When our granddaughter comes over after gan (preschool), this is her favorite lunch. Even with salad (which, like most Israelis, she’s eaten since she was little) I can’t seem to make enough to satisfy her appetite.

What’s the big deal?

It’s a good way to introduce healthy whole wheat pasta.
Tomato sauce adds flavor, so you can use less (high fat) cheese.
The attractive rosy tint hides the fact that the pasta is brown.
Homemade is better than the highly processed, over-salted boxed variety.
You can make it all in one pan, so it’s quick and easy.

Otherwise, it’s really just homemade macaroni and cheese: Start with whole grain pasta. Make a white sauce. Add a little cheese and some pasta sauce. The quantities are up to you. Here’s the “recipe”:

Start by boiling whole wheat pasta (children especially enjoy shapes like bowties and corkscrews). When it’s cooked “al dente” (with a little bite to it – not mushy), drain it and rinse in a colander. Let the excess hot water in the pan evaporate for a minute or two.

Heat a spoonful of canola or olive oil in the same pan. Mix in a tablespoon or so of flour and mix together, stirring frequently, to make a paste. Cook for a minute or two, stirring all the time. (A whisk is good for this.) Gradually pour in about a cup of low fat milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Bring the sauce to a boil and let it simmer for a minute or two on low heat, stirring occasionally.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in a handful of grated cheese (I like cheddar). Stir it into the sauce until it melts. Now add pasta or tomato sauce (homemade or purchased – I like the kind with chunky pieces of vegetables in it) until it turns a lovely rosy pink color. Add the drained pasta into the sauce. That’s it! Serve now or refrigerate and microwave it later.

What do we do after lunch? This week we painted each other’s nail’s. For a savta (grandmother) who raised three boys and no girls, I was in heaven!
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Ice Cream – Making Your Own

After years of frustration with our modest old ice cream machine, I splurged and bought a Gaggia – the gold-standard of home machines. After all, it was a month of special occasions – a special birthday for my husband, our anniversary, and seven years since we returned to Israel.

I had other, even better excuses – the poor quality of low-fat ice cream, the lack of flavorful fruit sorbets and no kosher gelato. Yes, I know they’re available in Tel Aviv, but here in Beer Sheva, there’s very little to choose from. Grocery-store brands are filled with gums, stabilizers, vegetable fat and loads of sugar. They taste more like marshmallows than ice cream. Even our very own “Glida (Ice Cream) Beer Sheva” is mediocre tasting.

I just wanted to make low-fat, low-calorie, palette-popping frozen desserts. So I’ve been on a bit of a binge. I started with:

Pistachio gelato

Chocolate sorbet (parve)

Mexican chocolate (cinnamon and a bite of chili) ice cream

Peach frozen yogurt

Matcha (Japanese green tea) ice cream

Then I moved on to:

Pistachio gelato made with almond milk (parve)

Fresh cherry and chocolate chunk gelato

Dulce de Leche ice cream with pecans

What’s the trick to delicious low-fat frozen desserts?

1. For “ice cream” I use a mixture of 2 cups low-fat (1%) milk and 1 cup half and half (10% cream). That comes out to about 4% total fat – a lot less than the 20-some percent fat in store-bought premium ice creams.

2. For gelato, I use 1% milk cooked with cornstarch to a soft pudding. (Use either the microwave or the stovetop to cook the mixture.) The ratio is 3 cups of milk to 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Add the flavors or fruit and refrigerate the mixture until it’s completely cold.

3. I don’t use egg-based custards. Eggs add custard-like richness, but they also add cholesterol and fat calories. Instead, I concentrate on flavors with pizzazz.

4. Cold dulls the flavor of things. For example, even though I cooked the cherries first and then steeped them in the milk/cornstarch mixture, my cherry gelato still lacked excitement. The peach frozen yogurt was also on the dull side, even though I used lots of fresh, ripe peaches and tangy sheep’s milk yogurt. Back to the drawing board on fruit flavors.

5. Flavor is everything! When you’re not using eggs and high fat milk and cream, you’ve got to emphasize flavor – use the best chocolate, nuts, fruit and spices. Even then, things don’t always work out. For instance, we only had high quality matcha tea powder (my husband is a Japanese-tea specialist!) which was barely perceptible in our ice cream. Next time we’ll try stronger, lower-grade matcha.

What’s next on my flavor agenda? I’m thinking about halvah ice cream and espresso gelato. And fresh mango sorbet for next Shabbat.

I’m not suggesting that you buy an expensive ice cream machine. (There are plenty of good machines available in all price ranges.) But if you enjoy frozen desserts and are looking for a healthier, tastier treat than you can buy at the store, you may want to try your hand at making it yourself.

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Dairy or Not? (Continued)

A nutritious diet and plenty of exercise while you’re young is the foundation for strong, dense bones. Osteoporosis – porous bones, is the weakening of bones that occurs as we age. Calcium is essential for building and maintaining strong bones, and dairy products are an excellent source of calcium.

But if dairy isn’t for you, there are plenty of other things you can do for your bones.

Like exercise. I’m not into jogging, cycling or exercise machines. But I do Tai Chi and stretching/aerobics classes several times a week. I also walk a lot. Despite severe lactose intolerance and very petite bones, my bone density has actually improved with age. I’m convinced that due to exercise.

Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones. It’s hard to get enough from diet alone, and since we’re all wearing sunscreen, (or should be!) most of us don’t get enough from being in the sun. That leaves supplements. Ask your physician if he or she thinks you should be taking one.

Don’t forget about non-dairy sources of calcium, like canned salmon, tofu made with calcium, almonds, legumes, dark leafy green vegetables and techinah made with whole sesame seeds.

Some foods and beverages are fortified with calcium, like orange juice (in the US) and soy, rice and almond drinks. Shake the container before you pour, since the added calcium tends to settle on the bottom.

If you eat at least one serving of leafy green vegetables a day, you’re doing your bones a big favor. That’s because they contain vitamin K, another important nutrient involved in regulating calcium and building strong bones. So keep eating your broccoli, spinach, Brussel sprouts, kale, chard and dark green lettuce (Iceberg lettuce doesn’t count!).

Vitamin A is important for good bones, but too much of it in the form called retinol, can promote bone fractures. If you take a multivitamin, check that the type of vitamin A (at least most of it) is beta carotene and not retinol.

What’s Bad for Your Bones?

Although findings haven’t been consistent, large amounts of protein could be bad for your bones. Eating a high-protein diet for a few weeks, or even a month, probably won’t hurt you, but over long periods of time, it may not be great for your bones.

There’s some evidence that drinking lots of coffee (four or more cups a day) can increase the risk of bone fractures. Cola beverages have been found to affect bones as well. Women who drank just one serving of cola a day were found to have lower bone density than women who drank less than a serving of cola a month.

The Bottom Line

If you enjoy dairy, choose non-fat and low-fat products. Save premium ice cream and high-fat cheese for occasional treats. Go easy on coffee and cola and eat plenty of vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes. And be sure to make exercise a regular part of your routine.

Chag Shavuot Sameach!

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Chana Rubin, RD

Food for the Soul

Traditional Jewish Wisdom for Healthy Eating
By Chana Rubin, RD

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