Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Diving Into Dairy Free

So we have decided to go dairy free for our little miss Ainsley. Bouts of fussiness and arching her back through all hours of the night even on reflux medication (same as we had done for Delaney 3 years ago) lead us back to the pediatrician and also a chiropractor for insight and answers and also to rule out any ear infection, etc. Everything ruled out - so the elephant left standing is dairy in my diet. (and possibly soy- but we are going to talk about that right now - because if you take out dairy there is almost nothing left it feels - and so to also remove soy - omg let's just not go there right now). Tofutti sour cream and cream cheese are my saving graces right now - take those out and then what?? Yikes. Ok..on to the dairy free stuff.

When you first think about going dairy free it is pretty crippling. All you goes through your mind is what you cannot have. But there is light at the end of tunnel for all you fellow dairy-free people out there! I know you have that deer in the headlights look as you grip your bottle of powdered probiotics and stare at your pantry and fridge...because it is ALL DAIRY...but rest easy. There are options, choices, and you WILL feel better - and obviously baby will too.

We started this journey about a month ago and it has made a big difference for me even. I cheated and had a cupcake with dairy cream cheese and was in so much pain myself afterwards. Oy.

So here are your first steps if you are going dairy free that I found helped me.

1. Stock up on the staples: Kroger has an awesome natural food section that features a lot of what you need to go dairy free. The idea of trying to fit in an extra trip to the healthfoods store was daunting to think about when toting around two children during our limited weekend time - but really I have been able to find almost everything I need at Kroger. Yay, Kroger! :) Meijer has limited items and I haven't foraged Walmart for dairy-free so I cannot report on the scene there if there is one...but save your sanity and go to Kroger.

Buy dairy free staples that will help you daily in cooking, baking. Almost any recipe can be modified to be dairy free - this is freeing to think! Creamy casseroles, cookies, etc....modify, modify, modify.

Here is your staple list:

  • Dairy Free Butter
  • Dairy Free Cream Cheese
  • Dairy Free Sour Cream
  • Alternative Milks (coconut, almond, or rice)
  • Alternative Cheeses (mozzarella, cheddar, etc)

I found it helpful to go ahead and buy half gallon cartons of several different alternative milks...so yes, there is an entire shelf in my fridge dedicated to milk.

I have found that almond milk has much more subtle taste than soy milks or coconut milk - making it great at modifying recipes that call for cows milk. I haven't tried rice milk yet - but may here in the future just to see how it compares to almond milk.

On the dairy-free cheese - do not hold much hope on these folks. Unlike the easy substitutions from dairy to non on the milks, sour cream, etc....cheese is in a league of it's own and I haven't tried enough of the alternatives out there to say what works best. I have tried what I read was the best and...eh. Just not cheese. Helps ease the transition, but so obviously not cheese. Especially cheddar. Just a word of warning on that.

In my fridge:

  • Almond Milk Original - is slightly sweetened. Works as a great substitute in baked goods, cereal milk, french toast, and frostings.
  • Almond Milk Unsweetened - for things like mashed potatoes, cooking dishes like casseroles etc where you wouldn't want a sweetened taste at all.
  • Almond Milk Chocolate - helps with those chocolate milk cravings! And yum!!
  • Coconut Milk - Coconut milk is a fattier milk than almond milk and works in recipes calling for whole milk. I have used mine to make an uh-mazing dairy-free ranch dressing.
  • Tofutti Cream Cheese - great for subbing in recipes that call for cream-cheese including frostings.
  • Tofutti Sour Cream - goes great on tacos, and any recipe calling for sour cream.
  • Daiya Cheeses - Cheddar and Mozarella
My dairy-free sanity savers:
  • Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Homemade Dairy-free ranch dressing - mix up a jar to keep in the fridge - you will be glad you did
  • Hummus (do yourself a favor and add a clove of minced garlic and some olive oil, stir, and warm it up - yum) - sooo good and filling with warmed, soft pita bread cut into triangles.
  • Bacon
  • French bread loaves 
  • Burger King French Fries
In the event that  I decide it might be worth it to try going soy-free:
  • homemade soy-free "soy" sauce
  • subbing  greek yogurt (something about the yogurt cultures eating the lactose making it ok for dairy free - haven't tried so not sure) for the tofutti sour cream
  • kraft lactose free cheese ?? (statement found on Clarks Condensed: *Most brands of Kraft Natural Cheese have had the lactose removed, along with the whey, resulting in 0 grams of lactose, including the 100% Grated Parmesan that is used in this recipe. However, some remnants of lactose could remain, just not at a reportable level. From most that I’ve talked to that are lactose intolerant, Kraft Cheese does not bother them, but if you have an extreme intolerance, be cautious.")

Helpful Links:

  • http://www.wikihow.com/Live-Without-Dairy-Products
  • http://www.cookiesforbfast.com/2012/09/dairy-free-faves-snack-edition.html
  • http://jennifermendelsohn.com/dairy.htm
  • http://willingcook.com/surprising-premade-allergy-friendly-foods/
  • http://mustfollowrecipes.blogspot.com/2010/01/pre-packaged-dairy-free-egg-free-peanut.html
  • http://www.clarkscondensed.com/food/best-lactose-free-products/
  • http://www.pinterest.com/hemhawseesaw/cheese-substitutes-dairy-free-soy-free/
Milk Conversions for Recipes (borrowed from: Cooking with Curls)
  • Heavy Cream = Coconut Milk (can)
  • Whole Milk = Coconut Milk (box) or Soy Milk
  • Non Fat Milk = Almond or Rice Milk
  • Half & Half = Half Coconut Milk (can) & Half Coconut Milk (box)