Q & A: March 20, 2011

"Yes! Even Goggle Hasn't All The Answers"

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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!

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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.

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Ann Marie Michaels

I have 25 years of experience in digital and online media & marketing. I started my career in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, working at some of the world’s top ad agencies. In 2007, after my first child was born, I started this little food blog which I grew to over 250K monthly unique website visitors and over 350K social media followers. For nearly 15 years, I've helped my audience of mostly moms and women 25-65 cook for their families and live a healthier lifestyle.

 The year after I started the blog, I founded a blog network in the health & wellness space called Village Green Network. I started the company on my coffee table and bootstrapped the business to over $1.3 million in annual revenue within 5 years. During that time, I helped a number of our bloggers become six figure earners. After being censored on almost every social media platform for telling the After being censored on almost every social media platform from Facebook and Instagram to Pinterest and Twitter, and being deplatformed on Google, I am now deployed as a digital soldier, writing almost exclusively about politics on my blog Cheeseslave.com. Because who can think about food when we are fighting the second revolutionary war and third world war? Don't worry, there will be more recipes one day. After the war is over.

18 thoughts on “Q & A: March 20, 2011

    1. Carob has a different taste than chocolate, but depending on the recipe, sometimes it is really close.

      It also has a natural sweetness that is nice. We have enjoyed if for years. I actually have almost never let my kids have chocolate due to the stimulant effect.

      I have, however, tried the chocolate chip recipe that was recommended today and it did not work for me, however I am willing to try again.

      I have a number of carob recipes on my site that we have just ADORED….like Homemade Almond Joy Bars, Carob Bar and Carob Silk Pie. They have been devoured quite quickly at our home which attests to how good carob can be.

    1. Carob is a legume that comes from the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua), an evergreen tree native to the Mediterranean (it is actually a shrub that is trained into tree form by pruning). Today it is also grown in other warm climates including Florida and the southwestern United States.


  1. But there are some real benefits to chocolate, no? I only know one person who reacts badly to chocolate, but she has to be completely caffeine free anyway. Cocoa butter is a great fat, and there are plenty of minerals and antioxidents. I found these charts about the mineral contents and antioxidents:

    That said, I only eat dark chocolate, free from soy lecithin, which I am far more concerned about.

    1. No there are no real benefits to eating chocolate. In my opinion, any benefits do not outweigh the risks of eating it.

      That said, I do still eat it occasionally. But I will never say it is something that is good for you.

  2. Up until a few months ago I have had a square of dark chocolate every day for as long as I can remember. I have since gone GAPS so no chocolate or cocoa (yet). Right now I’m almost completely caffeine free so it will be interesting to see (after I’ve gone completely caffeine free for a while) what happens after I add back cocoa, then dark chocolate. I have done recipes calling for cocoa with 1/2 cocoa and 1/2 carob and they turn out fine. You could probably “wean” yourself off the chocolate/cocoa flavor by substituting carob gradually.

  3. SO I have a two-year-old who has high-cholesterol (High 300’s), due to my husband’s Familial Hypercholesterolemia. I’d love to hear an educated, research-supported reply that will claim that if I feed him as you recommend, he will not suffer heart blockages at the age of 45, like my husband had!

  4. Just a friendly reminder that it is 2011 🙂
    (Post title says 2010)
    I make that mistake sometimes, too!
    Have a nourishing day! Thanks for posting this 🙂

  5. ‘It’s a myth that chocolate is loaded with caffeine. While there is some caffeine in chocolate, it’s not much. In a typical chocolate bar, the caffeine content ranges from 1 to 11 mg. An 8-ounce cup of coffee has about 137 mg of caffeine.” I copied this from www.superfoodsrx.com ….It’s good to know what’s true & what’s a myth 🙂

  6. very interesting about carob and choc. I wonder why if carob is better it’s not allowed on GAPS?

    1. When it comes to real foods, there are people out there to tell you something is wrong with everything. There are people who believe we are meant to eat raw and then there are people who say food needs to be cooked to break down components to make it digestible. There are people who say meat is good and then there are vegans. There are people who say greens are good and then those who say the phyto-chemicals are bad. There are people who say you need to juice your fruits and veggies and the fiber is problematic and those who say not to juice but to vitamix because you need the fiber. I think you could find a different group proclaiming the evils of every single food in existence.

      I have heard people say that chocolate is good for you and has certain chemicals in it that it good for you and that carob is not. And I have heard people say the exact opposite. Figuring out what is the best food for life and health is no easy task.

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