As you may have read, we're having a few health issues with Ruby and I've pretty much established that it's down to cow's milk. Whether it's a lactose intolerance issue or an allergy to cow's milk protein (or something totally different!) we won't know until she's had tests done - she has now been referred by the GP so we are finally getting somewhere.
One thing I do know is that in the past 6 weeks or so that she's not been having cow's milk/products, her symptoms have pretty much totally cleared up - bloated tummy; stomach pains, nightly cough; runny nose; itchy skin and night-time waking.
But it's been trial and error finding alternatives that she likes, that won't flare it up again and that will give her the nutrition she needs.
Now, I don't know if it was pure chance or not but I was contacted by the lovely people at St Helen's Farm and asked if I'd like a hamper of their goat's milk products to review.
Of course! They arrived at the pre-arranged time, all wrapped and packed with ice, with the saucy little goat on their logo looking alluringly at me.
From our un-scientific testing, we knew that Ruby seemed to be ok eating goat's cheese, but also know that getting them from the deli counter is proving to be an expensive habit. With St Helen's Farm products available in most major supermarkets now, we were really hoping that this would be a hit.
The butter got instant approval, and I'd barely unpacked the hamper before I was being asked to put toast on. I have to say, we've all been enjoying this butter, and I have it on my toast now too. It's rich and creamy and to me tastes no different to any other good quality real butter. It's great to be able to use butter in family cooking again.
The cheese was also very tasty. Ruby really struggles with cow's cheese, especially hard cheeses like cheddar. I use cheese in such a lot of recipes and have simply replaced cheddar with the St Helen's Farm hard cheese now for sauces, pasta dishes, quiches etc. It means she can enjoy some of her favourite meals again.
Unfortunately we found that drinking the milk seemed to aggravate Ruby's tummy again so we are still searching for a suitable alternative drinking milk that she can have.
The yoghurt however went down a treat and I was able to make her something she's been missing out on these past few weeks - ice cream!! Well, frozen yoghurt to be precise, but she loved it. St Helen's, if you're listening though an ice cream addition to your range would be most excellent (hint hint).
I simply took a handful of strawberries, popped them in a saucepan with a little water (add sugar if you want) and heated them up until mushy. Then I sieved the strawberries to get the juice.
I stirred this through about 200g of St Helen's yoghurt, placed in an ice cream tub and froze for 1 hour. Then I stirred it thoroughly and froze again. Repeat this process 3 times in total.
It's been really great learning about St Helen's products and ethics. They clearly care a great deal about welfare standards and environmental issues and have just installed a wind turbine to generate their own power on site.
Their consultant dietitian has been most kind and helpful to me personally - thank you Helen! And she provides some really useful information on the site - if you're concerned about dairy allergies, please check it out.
Even if you don't have allergies or intolerances, then there are other benefits to including goat's milk in your diet. It is nutritionally closest to cows milk, but it contains more vitamin D - needed to help the body's uptake of calcium. It is also lower in cholesterol than cow's milk. For more information, see the nutritional page of the website.
Next time you're in the dairy aisle at the supermarket, look out for that saucy little white goat smiling at you, and give goat's a go!
Disclosure: We were sent the hamper pictured above for the purposes of this review. No financial reward was received and all opinions expressed are my own.