Friday, August 23, 2013

16 Months of a Dairy Free Diet

I reluctantly weaned Baby Girl a couple weeks ago, due to a late-in-the-game complication we developed that was causing me a lot {and I mean A LOT} of pain.  Although I am sad that that relationship has been completed, there are a couple of upsides.  I get a few more minutes' sleep each morning, when she would otherwise have been at my bedside asking to nu nu.  And I no longer have to follow the dairy free diet that I kept for the last 16 months because of her dairy allergy/intolerance.  We ordered cheese pizza the first night she was weaned and it was mightily delicious!

Before eliminating dairy, it had been my major protein source, because I'm not a huge meat person.  But I learned a lot along the dairy-free way, including a heightened awareness that I did not need cheese and sour cream and ice cream the way I thought I needed them.  There are plenty of good foods out there to keep one nourished and satisfied, and even to keep one's cravings for all things creamy and smooth satisfied on the occasional.

I decided not to try to make a lot of direct substitutions for the foods I was eliminating from my diet but rather to just change how I ate and what I thought of as a meal, focusing on eating whole foods. fake cheeses, no soy products, no ice cream substitutes, no margarine.  Instead...coconut oil and almond milk for cooking and baking, avocados and eggs for creaminess and richness, nuts and dried fruits for snacks on the go.  But it took me awhile to figure all that stuff out and I was kinda hungry in the meantime, so maybe my experience will give a little knowledge jump start to someone eating dairy-free.

My favorite dairy-free products:
refined coconut oil {which is free of the coconut taste}
coconut oil cooking spray
unsweetened almond milk {vanilla for baking, original for other uses}

A few of my favorite meals:
black bean burger with sliced avocado
fried egg atop roasted brussel sprouts
black bean, corn, and roasted sweet potato burritos with green salsa
scrambled eggs and diced avocado with hot sauce
breakfast smoothie of banana, peanut butter, and almond milk

Of course, there were the times that I was just dying for pizza, so we would order one with no cheese.  {Which is not as bad as you would think!}  There also were the times that I just had to abstain, especially at restaurants.  And then, there were the times that I mistakenly ate something, and my sweet Baby Girl had to deal with the terrible effects on her system.  Those are the times that give you resolve to keep on keepin' on.

Although I have definitely enjoyed indulging in the dairy delicacies I had eliminated for the last 16 months, I have found that I now suffer stomach cramps after I eat dairy, which supports all those Paleo folks' claims about dairy being so bad for your gut.  So, now that I've had enchiladas, fried cheese sticks, key lime pie, and my beloved pepper jack with pretzels, I think I'll cut back to special occasion dairy.

For a dairy-free snack, the boys and I just tried a new hummus recipe this morning.  So, so, so much better than store-bought hummus.  As Little Guy said, it was "the bestest ever in the world."  Buddy Boy thoroughly enjoyed making it, but declined even a taste.  His loss!

Anybody have any dairy-free favorites to share?


Jessica said...

I'm with you on dairy-free for our littlest ones, but I embraced the substitutions (lots of them).

That said, we got really into Fish Tacos with slaw and avocado! Caleb just had it minus slaw. It was my happy time to have Mexican without the usual suspects of cheese, but without feeling like I was just having a dish minus cheese. Oh, and we all became HUGE fans of your spaghetti casserole! I found myself sneaking into the kitchen to take more bites before putting it away :)

Margaret Elliott said...

Another dairy free "humus" recipe that uses nut pulp instead of chickpeas (genius use for nut pulp if you are making your own nut milk) ....came across this one earlier in the week and can't wait to give it a try!

Eleanor said...

Congrats on being dairy free AND nursing for 16 months!! I am so glad to hear of other Mommies who love to nurse and who do it for a long time! We seem to be few and far between.