February 24, 2012

Another First

Emmy's birthday party was a success. There was no stressful overplanning, no yelling about balloon colors, no worrying about the seven house guests we had staying with us.

Just love, cupcakes, wagon rides and a moment to stand still and think how good God has been to us and to our little girl.

What a sweet day.

February 3, 2012

The Dairy Diaries: Part Three

Here we are at the end of my dairy-free series. Hopefully it's been informative for anyone needing help going dairy-free, whether you are breastfeeding or not.

If you are slashing dairy because your baby is allergic or sensitive to cow's milk proteins in your breastmilk, you might be surprised at just how many processed food items contain milk protein. Now, please take in mind the nature of your baby's sensitivity or allergy. Some babies simply get gassy. Others have it so severe that if they intake dairy products unheeded, they have problems absorbing the nutrients that they get from other proteins and foods, simply because the gut is trying to push the offending proteins out of the intestinal tract as quickly as possible. Yikes!

So, do a little experimenting with an elimination diet to see just how sensitive your baby is. Sometimes you only need to cut out cheese and milk, and that's awesome. Sometimes you have to nix every trace of milk protein in your diet, and that's not so fun.

And the latter situation is where today's post will come in handy, because I'm writing about hidden dairy. Ah, the sneaky sneaky kind. If you're not a from-scratch cook, it might surprise you just how often dairy is used in common foods that you buy at the market. Below is a list of boxed, processed or prepared foods that usually have some form of milk powder, milk protein, or milk product in them.

Some pasta sauces (obviously, the cream sauces, but also some tomato-based)
Crackers and chips
Vegetarian items and fake cheese
Packaged guacamole and veggie dips
Processed meats and hot dogs
Cakes, muffins, cookies
Sherbert and frozen fruit bars
Most chocolate candies

I must confess that the one that makes me most angry is the frozen fruit bars. In looking for an ice cream alternative, I saw them and was stoked. Yay! Something cold and sweet for after dinner. NOT. The first ingredient? Ice cream. Don't be fooled by brand or item names. Just because something says it's "Whole Fruit", doesn't mean it's fruit only. I had a box of frozen coconut fruit bars in my freezer for months, just taunting me.

Are you bummed out yet? Resigned to just eating fruits and vegetables until your baby weans? (HOW CAN PEOPLE BE VEGANS?????!!!!!!)

Don't give up. Dairy-free isn't all that bad after you push through the first few weeks and figure out good replacement foods. You WILL be hungry the first few days, especially if you eat a few helpings a day like I did. Your bones won't shrivel up for lack of calcium, especially if you eat lots of almonds and dark green vegetables.

The best thing that I did to keep me on track with a dairy-free diet was to remember that my motivation was for Emmy's overall health. It won't last forever, and on the day that she weans, I'm making the biggest grilled cheese sandwich that I can handle. Until then, I'll sacrifice a little cream here and there, and be thankful that I even have food on the table and a child in my arms.

P.S. Don't make stuffed shells with tofu and spinach. It's horrible.

February 1, 2012

The Dairy Diaries: Part Two

Ah, here we are again, talking about milk for the sake of milk. My dairy-free diet has not always been easy, and I hope that the following tips and linked recipes can help others who need to drop la leche for whatever reason. Mine was so that I could continue to breastfeed, because my baby is sensitive to dairy (milk proteins) in my breastmilk. If you have any dairy-free recipes, tips or experiences, feel free to share!

Substitute Foods

Silk PureAlmond almond milk - It's so good! Almonds are very high in calcium, and I find the taste of the original flavor (non-sweetened) to be creamy enough to enjoy a glass by itself. Most of the time, though, I use it with my morning cereal. The vanilla flavor is, admittedly, even better, but I try to stay away from unnecessary sugar, and since my cereal or oatmeal is sweet, it's still yummy!

Coconut milk - This has seriously been a lifesaver when it comes to making desserts. Its full-fat version can be whipped into frosting, and even the lite variety has a wonderful thickness when put in smoothies. I've found that it gives a really great flavor to whole grain oatmeal. On days when all I want is some ice cream, I can just stick a can in the fridge for an hour, crack that baby open and drink it over ice with some berries. It is high in fat, but let's call it the good kind without doing research, ok? :)

Earth Balance spread - As a relatively new product, this dairy-free, soy-free spread is easy to find and is flexible for cooking. I use it to saute veggies and to bake cookies and cakes. It consists of a blend of hydrogenated vegetable and seed oils, but is surprisingly buttery in taste. It can be pricey, at around $4 for a medium-sized tub (maybe 16 oz?), but is worth the investment. Winn-Dixie and Publix carry it, but I haven't been able to find it at Wal-Mart, and I cannot remember if the Army commissary keeps it in stock.

Chamomile tea - Weirdly enough, it tastes buttery. To me, at least!

Kale and collard greens - These are sky-rocket high in calcium, so chomp down and keep osteoporosis at bay.

Dark chocolate - Most dark chocolate candies don't have milk or milk products in them, but they are rich and sweet and when melted into almond milk, make for an indulgent late-night drink.


Substitute Earth Balance spread for the butter and you'll have a SERIOUS PROBLEM ON YOUR HANDS. As in, you will probably eat this whole cake. But really, it's delicious.

Kale chips. They look weird going in the oven, but they're crunchy and salty and before you know it, you've eaten a whole head of kale in one sitting.


There they are, short and sweet! Our next and final post about my dairy-free experience will be about hidden and unexpected dairy in common foods that we eat. Please post if you have any great recipes or food tips for eating dairy-free!