Living Dairy Free
I like cheese. No actually I LOVE cheese. This is no joke; I eat cheese with at least two meals every day. So when I found out that my daughter was allergic to dairy, I had a mild panic.
Bella was constantly sick; a runny or blocked nose, post-nasal drip and coughing at night. It would always start as cold-like symptoms and then would become infected and she would need antibiotics. Eventually I took her to a homeopath to do allergy testing, and she came back positive for both dairy and soya. This blew my mind, as the natural replacement for milk is soya, so I left the doctor with no idea what to feed my child. It has been almost two years now living with a dairy-free baba, and I’m happy to say that there are so many options available, that I no longer notice it anymore.
I often get asked about how I manage without dairy, how I cook for Bella, how to make the change without it affecting the whole family, because let’s be honest, I ain’t giving up my cheese. It’s simple Mamas, don’t let it worry you!
Bella was immediately taken off of all dairy and soya, which meant she could no longer drink formula. We had to research other options and I was pleasantly surprised. There is rice milk, almond milk and coconut milk. There is long-life milk or powdered milk. There are goat’s milk cheeses and yoghurts. There are dairy-free treats made with coconut oil instead of butter. There is a whole world out there for dairy-allergen children; you just need to know where to look.
We buy our rice milk at Woolworths, and now that Bella has been re-introduced to soya, we buy it from Pick ‘n Pay, but it is available anywhere. Coconut milk comes in tins in almost any grocery store, while the powdered ones can be found in health shops. I decant tinned coconut milk into ice-trays as I hardly ever need to use a whole tin for one meal for her. With frozen blocks of coconut milk in the freezer, it’s easy to grab one and add it to a sauce or chicken dish whenever I need one. Thanks to Tim Noakes and the Banting diet, dairy-free options are in high demand, so you will find a lot of breads and sweet-treats available in health shops that are made with substitutes for milk and butter, such as coconut oil. When it comes to cooking, I still make all of the same meals for Bella that I used to. Instead I now just use goat’s cheese for things like omelettes, rice milk for savoury dishes, such as mashed potato or lasagne, and soya milk for sweeter dishes. One of Bella’s favourite vegetables is sweet potato mash mixed with a bit of soya milk and cinnamon. Baking is also simple as you can use coconut oil, soya milk or even fruit-flavoured Purity as dairy alternatives. Bella now drinks a glass of soya milk in the evening and when she wakes up. She can’t even have Nesquik as that also contains dairy, but she enjoys a spoon of honey or molasses in her milk, and we occasionally buy the chocolate flavoured soya for treat days. When looking for treats while out shopping, ginger biscuits and banana breads are often dairy-free, and I’ve now become quite the expert with stores that cater to her needs – try the Coconut Kitchen at the new Greenside Market for dairy-free brownies, Pure Berry at the Bryanston Shopping Center for smoothies and Smooch Frozen Yoghurt often have dairy-free options, just call ahead to double-check.
Two weeks ago I decided to try Bella on dairy again, to see if she had outgrown the allergy yet. We went to the Food, Wine and Design Fair and I treated her to marshmallows dipped in Lindt chocolate. She just about exploded with excitement! 24 hours later her little eyes were puffy and watering, her nose was blocked and she couldn’t stop sneezing. So we are back to a dairy-free lifestyle again. Yes it’s hard with kids, especially when they are offered chocolates or ice-cream at school and at parties. But we have had to work around these temptations. I’ve given Bella’s teacher dairy-free sweets for when the other kids get choccies, and she’s at an age now where she understands that she cannot eat it or she will get sick. She will now ask if there is dairy in anything given to her, as she knows the side-effects and has established for herself that it is just not worth it.
Changing your lifestyle to suit a child’s allergy can be difficult, but not impossible. You will become an expert in no time and Google will always be your friend. Research options, try various recipes, and see it as a fun challenge rather than a hindrance.
To get you started on trying it dairy-free, here are two recipes that my little one and I both love:
4 chicken breasts
1 tablespoon of coconut oil for frying
1 teaspoon of garlic
1 teaspoon of dried coriander spice
1 tin of coconut milk
2 cups of chicken stock
2 tablespoons of peanut butter
Fresh coriander to taste
Any veggies you like with these flavours – I use chopped cauliflower, baby carrots, green beans or baby corn
Salt and pepper to taste
Slice and brown the onion in coconut oil. Slice the chicken breasts and fry until cooked through. Add the garlic, peanut butter, salt and pepper to taste. Add your choice of chopped veggies and fry for a few minutes. Add the tin of coconut milk and chicken stock. Once boiling, reduce the heat to simmering and allow it to cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the coriander towards the end. Serve on rice / mashed potatoe / cous cous.
(I’ve made this dish for Bella since she was a baby, I would just blend it up for her)
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 ¼ cups of flour
¼ cup honey
½ light brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup coconut oil
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 jar of Purity baby food (I use apple or pear flavour)
½ cup ground pecan nuts
Mix the baking soda, salt, baking powder and flour together with a fork in a small bowl. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, honey, both sugars and coconut oil. Mix until smooth using a hand mixer. Add the cinnamon and baby food, mixing until smooth. Fold in the pecan nuts. Add the flour mixture slowly using a sieve and fold it into the mixture until evenly distributed. Dish out the mixture evenly between 24 baking cups, held in muffin pans for support. Bake for 12 minutes on 170 degrees.
I hope you enjoy these ideas! Good luck Mamas!