Anyway, as I mentioned in my previous post, we're battling some reflux issues and possible food intolerances, the big one being dairy. So, what am I doing instead? For some, dairy free is probably very natural and not at all challenging. For someone like me who loves butter, cheese, baking, and ice cream, it's been quite a change! What am I eating instead, you might ask? Well, I tried some of the faux cheeses - wow, those are just horrible. To whom are they being marketed? I mean, people who have had real cheese before can't possibly think that stuff is even kind of good, and people who have never had cheese...well, why seek it out in the first place? Just so confusing! Not to mention that most of the brands are full of soy, which I try to avoid unless it's in a fermented form. Cheese, as you might have gathered, is basically out. However, for smoothies and such, I did want a liquid to replace cow's milk.
I love my almond milk recipe, but it can be a bit difficult to make sure it gets made with little man taking up so much of my time (and both hands!). Califia has a fairly "clean" almond milk, adding very little other than almonds and water, and I recently discovered their Coconut Almond Milk. SOOOOOOO good! It's richer and creamier than standard almond milk, with a more natural sweetness from the coconut. I really love it and am enjoying it regardless as to whether I could have cow's milk or not! I'm actually hoping to use it for some homemade chocolate milk or hot chocolate soon... mmmm!
As far as butter goes, I've been using a few different natural fats. Olive oil has always been in the rotation, but is being featured a bit more in cooking. We're also using a lot more coconut oil these days (remember, cold-pressed, unrefined for the most nutritional benefits!). In fact, I have an awesome small-batch chocolate chip cookie recipe to share with you soon that uses coconut oil instead of butter and is super delicious. And, because I can't really leave out my butter completely, I've also started using Ghee. Ghee is clarified butter - in other words, the milk proteins whey and casein are removed and you're left with just pure milk fat. It is the proteins in milk that are the offender in a milk allergy or sensitivity, so Ghee is not a problem and delicious spread on toast! I've used it for some cooking, too, but it's fairly expensive, so I tend to use it sparingly.
Why don't I make my own clarified butter, the savvy home-cook or food connoisseur might ask? Well, while it doesn't appear to be too difficult of a process, because I am being very strict about avoiding dairy proteins, I don't want to take the chance that I leave any behind if I made it myself. The professionals guarantee that the ghee/clarified butter I purchase is "casein free".
So far, the change hasn't been too bad. Baking is a bit difficult. I also had to find different chocolate/chocolate chips, as many chocolate brands use milk fat/milk in their chocolate, which means I have to avoid it! Enjoy Life and this other brand Whole Foods just started carrying that I can't remember because I dumped the chips out into a mason jar when I got home... are both dairy-free and really yummy. :)
Anyway, these are some of the changes we've been making around our place. I've also discovered that most restaurants are quite willing to help with identifying and removing potential allergens if you just ask. And, the vegan cupcake at Whole Foods is perhaps better than the regular one... And, remember, when in doubt, wine is naturally dairy-free!