Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dairy & Soy Free Treats!

I've got quite the sweet tooth, and I really love baking, but if there's a place that making food allergy changes is really difficult, it's baking. Recipes for baked goods are pretty specific, and the quality of the finished product can be pretty low if some ratio is off in the beginning. I wasn't content to just sit back and go "treat free", that would be way too healthy! So I got online and  in the kitchen and started substituting for dairy products in my favorite baked goods. Here are two recipes that turned out surprisingly well, it's definitely a place to start! I'm still tweaking these, and playing with some new ideas, but here's what I have so far! Rejoice! Eat cake!

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies (butter free)

Adapted from the Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Coconut Oil, room temp
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups Enjoy Life chocolate chips (they are free of ALL major allergens, including dairy and soy) or if you prefer chunk cookies, chop up an Equal Exchange chocolate bar. (one of the few dairy and soy free chocolate bars out there, but read carefully, not every variety is allergen free)
 PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat coconut oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 10 minutes, they will be paler than butter based cookies, so don't overbake looking for them to be golden! 

 Vegan Cupcakes with Chocolate "Butter"cream Icing

Cupcakes: I started with this recipe for Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes, but I didn't have any coconut oil at the time, so I used canola instead. The consistency was heavier than I like my cupcakes, so I'm playing with some ideas to get that fluffy feel I like in my old butter-laden recipe, but this is a great substitute to kill that craving! Filling the cupcake papers fairly full, (there's nothing worse than a short and tiny cupcake!) I found it only made 16 for me, not the 18 listed. The Hero likes filled cupcakes, so 6 of them got a filling of raspberry preserves, using a piping bag and Bismark tip.

Icing: My favorite icing recipe is a low-sugar recipe, a meringue buttercream, about 12 egg whites with a boiled sugar sweetener and a full 6 sticks of butter. Really fantastic stuff, but clearly not in the diet plan! I made up this one on the spot while the cakes were baking. I try to steer clear of super sugary sweet icings, but I think this one turned out fairly good, just don't over-ice the cakes, so you get a good balance of flavors.
  • 2 lbs. super fine confectioners sugar
  • 1 C. cocoa powder
  • aprox. 1/4 cup vanilla coconut milk beverage like SoDelicious (if you use an unflavored milk or other milk or cream substitute, add 1/2 t. vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 C. Butter substitute, like Soy Free Earth Balance
Slowly mix the sugar and cocoa together in a large mixing bowl, then slowly add your coconut milk (and vanilla, if needed), just until the mixture is glossy and smooth, it will have a  thick glaze consistency, the Earth Balance will help fluff it up a little, add it and whip the icing for a while, to get a fluffy and even texture. Transfer it to a piping bag and use a shell tip to ice the cupcakes. Tip: If you filled some of your cupcakes, sprinkle some chocolate shavings, chips, or colored sugar on top so you know which is which!

Well that's what I have so far, I'm working on some other things, namely, pastry crust, for pies and the like. When I have one I like, I'll be sure to share it. Is there something you really like that you'd like me to try and convert to allergy friendly? Share your allergy and what you're craving and I'll try my best!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gotta lose milk to make milk?

     As I mentioned earlier, I'm now dairy and soy free in an attempt to save the DB from terrible stomach discomforts possibly associated with a dairy protein sensitivity. "That's not so bad,"  you may think, "there are plenty of tasty foods out there that have no dairy or soy whatsoever". Well, you'd be right and wrong. There are plenty of delicious foods with none of the offending ingredients, but A. Dairy and soy products hide in the least likely places, especially in foods that are in the center of the grocery store and baked goods, and B. You want what you can't have. I was a big fan of dairy before, but since the verdict was read I've craved things I eat only rarely: pizza, ice cream, etc. So being the go getter that I am, I had a massive, whiny pity party, then I hit up every grocery that looked promising to find things I CAN eat. I'm also creating and modifying recipes to fit my new diet, and I'll share some of the better products and recipes with you here!

The pizza attempt was mediocre, I thought. The highlight of a pizza is the gooey cheese. The Hero had the kind audacity to tell me I could order a pizza sans cheese and it would probably be safe. I said some things that were not so nice. We made one instead, with some low-additive pepperoni, fabulous organic veggies (canned organics tend to have less additives, meaning less risk of allergens, but read carefully!) and a cheese substitute The Hero found at Roots Market, our local organic grocery. We put this onto a simple home made whole wheat pizza crust. The "cheese" is tapioca based, and it was just not pizza worthy, in my opinion. Upon melting, it turned rather creamy, not stretchy. While the pizza was just OK, the creamy texture of the cheese got me thinking what I could use it for that might be better suited. The answer wasn't far off, I wanted a cream pasta, so I got cracking on a recipe that would satisfy that craving, and I took inspiration from one of my favorite dishes.

In my family, you get to pick what you want for dinner on your birthday. I would usually always pick Chicken Joseph Florentine. It's a Parmesan and breadcrumb coated chicken cutlet on a bed of lemon wilted spinach, topped with sherry and butter mushroom slices and pimentos. It's really a fantastic meal. I combined the basic components of that dish with a creamy non-dairy pasta and this is what I got! I really enjoyed it, and I couldn't tell from taste or texture that it was dairy & soy free. Without the chicken cutlet, the recipe is vegan, so you can make changes to it to suit your dietary needs.

Creamy Penne in the style of Chicken Joseph Florentine

Crispy Baked Chicken
Preheat your oven to 400° F, and melt your butter substitute in a baking dish, either in your preheating oven, stove top, or microwave.  Pound out your chicken very thin. Place your rice cereal in a bag and roll it with a pin until the pieces are 1/4 to 1/2 of their original sizes. Place the crushed cereal on a plate and salt. Dip the pounded chicken in the cereal, then the beaten egg, then back in the cereal. Place the chicken in the baking dish, then flip it over, so there is butter substitute on both sides of the cutlet. Place the dish in the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 180°F. While the chicken is baking, begin the pasta and sauce.

Creamy Florentine Sauce and Penne

  •  1 package portobello mushrooms, sliced
  •  Pasta of your choice, I used Barilla Plus Penne because it has legumes and whole grains (this type contains eggs and wheat, but a rice noodle would suit to be more allergen free)
  • 5-7 oz. fresh spinach
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 T. Butter substitute (see above)
  • 16 oz. carton of Mimiccreme (almond and cashew based cream substitute)
  • 8 oz. package of Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds
  •  Parsley
  • 1/4 C. Dry Sherry
  • Basil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

 Put your water on to boil for the pasta. In a large skillet with tall sides, melt your butter substitute over medium-high heat. Add your minced garlic and your mushrooms. As you chiffonade the spinach leaves, add them about a half-cup at a time, as they will wilt in the pan and there will eventually be room for all of them! stir this slowly, and when the spinach is all reduced in size but still a nice green color, don't kill them! Add the sherry and stir it around to de-glaze the pan and evenly coat the mushrooms and greens. Add your pasta to the boiling water. Add the Mimiccreme to the sherry and vegetables and reduce heat to medium-low. Heat through, stirring often, and then add the Daiya shreds and herbs, salt, and pepper according to taste. Simmer and stir often until the shreds are melted and well combined. Drain pasta after cooked according to package directions, and plate immediately, topped with sauce and chicken cutlets. 


    I am really pleased with how this dish turned out, and will likely try to create a vodka sauce (my favorite) using the Mimiccreme/Daiya combo soon. If you try out the recipe, let me know how it goes for you!

  For dessert options, I love the cookie recipe from Dairy and Soy Free Mom's blog, also Turtle Mountain's Coconut "Ice cream" is tasty, along with their coconut yogurt, and the beverage in place of milk. Speaking of the coconut "milk", Hershey's Syrup is dairy and soy free and makes a great chocolate milk with Rice Dream or So Delicious Coconut. I'm digging into some of the Turtle Mountain chocolate ice cream right now, as a treat for putting DB to bed while he was in such a challenging mood! Do keep in mind that not ALL of their ice creams are soy free, so read carefully the labeling when purchasing! 

   I'm working on a couple other recipes, and I'll share them with you all as I am happy with them. If you have a dish you'd like me to try and convert to dairy and soy free, let me know! I'll do the best I can!

Monday, March 7, 2011

This was supposed to be EASY!

Warning: we're going to talk about BOOBS in this post, so if that's something that gives you the heebie jeebies, maybe you should wait for a different post...or reconsider reading my stuff, because boobs have become a pretty big part of my life.

Disclaimer: Just because this post is about breastfeeding, don't assume I make judgments about formula feeding. I have many mommy friends who will tell you that I support babies being fed. Period. I think breastfeeding is the best nutritional option, but it is an option. Formula doesn't make your baby a hideous mutant. Don't write me angry letters. If you are confused, please see the first post in this blog. 

When I was pregnant I was really really excited about breastfeeding our DB. I had beautiful fluffy images in my head about rocking my baby, nursing quietly while the house and neighborhood slept in the early morning hours. It was going to be such a fantastic and magical bonding experience. I did my research, like I tend to do, and I was prepared for the potential pitfalls. I learned common nursing problems, I learned solutions, I learned about breastfeeding myths and facts, I learned about babies' digestive systems and development stages. I was super prepared.

I really wasn't. I was more educated than most American moms when they deliver, but I wasn't prepared. Especially not for every problem I'd read about (with the exception of one) to hit us all within the first 3 months. The first problem actually presented itself within 10 minutes of birth. The one thing I had going for me, and still do, is my pig-headed, stubborn confidence that I was going to do this come hell or high water. That, and the support of those closest to me.

When DB was whisked away to NICU right after delivery, there went my hopes of breastfeeding within the first hour. I was disappointed but undeterred, I pumped every 1.5-2 hours and took milk to his nurses. He wasn't ready for it yet, but it went in the freezer for when he would be. On the second day we got to try nursing, I figured within the first 48 hours is better than never, right? He wasn't really on board by that point, it was a rough first week. There was no soft filter nursing and rocking, there was a lot of harshly hospital lit screaming and crying. (one of us screaming, both of us crying)

Upon returning home, it got better, but it was nowhere near my beautiful visions. We spent hours trying to get latched on and fed, but it wasn't really coming easy for us. Hard for him, painful for me, messy for both of us, nursing was a huge production! There were so many accessories needed to get anything accomplished, and I was feeling pretty deflated (emotionally) and inflated (chestically).

As DB grew, problems were solved and new problems presented themselves. We fixed the latch and fired the nipple shield. Then the projectile vomiting, then the colic. Turned out to be an oversupply and overactive let town, which also accounted for the screaming and choking at nursings (yes, still no peaceful shiny soft glow snuggle time, it was a bit more like keg stands for babies). So I started a new schedule to try and get my supply and thus my letdown under control, and things were better. Then the thrush. Oh this stuff is evil. We're still fighting that one off, but its better. Don't just wait for it to go away. Get some treatment, homeopathic or otherwise, trust me! That overlapped with the colic-turned-reflux symptoms. That's what we're currently trying to sort out. I feel like we're winning, but it hasn't been easy.

The reflux thing is no joke! Poor baby would scream like someone had just pinched him, had really nasty "wet" burps and hiccups, smelled like acid, had a stuffy nose, pulled away during feedings, was generally REALLY unhappy. Makes for pretty unhappy parents. The only problem is that a sensitivity to dairy proteins in the milk can and does mimc GERD in infants, so I had to cut out all dairy and soy products, just to fight on both fronts while we treated him with Zantac and Prevacid, to cover all our bases.

He's feeling better, I'm not sure if its from the diet change or the proper medicine combo, but for now I'm just glad that it's working, whatever it is. It's been very difficult to find foods that are safe, you'd be surprised how many things contain dairy by-products, and how many more contain soy. I did find a great resource in the blog Dairy and Soy-free Mom, she's posted some great recipes and product resources, but her blog hasn't been updated in a couple of years, so I'm hoping to continue her work, sharing what products and recipes I find that make it a little easier to do the dairy and soy free thing! For those of you who asked for the cookie recipe I've been using, it's on her blog. (I make it with whole wheat flour, that's the only difference) Don't overcook them, or move them before they've cooled enough! So I'll try and post some more recipes and resources here, I've found they're difficult to come by, and it isn't an easy diet to master.

For the record, it is getting easier. I'm enjoying our breastfeeding relationship now. It's become a time for us to snuggle and breathe in the day, even when things are getting hectic, I have to sit and relax for a while when DB starts clamoring for a snack. We have some rocking and nursing while the whole house is asleep, but its certainly not quiet, my little piglet is not a subtle eater. I'm really glad I stuck it out, but I can't help but wonder how many others in my situation didn't have the support or confidence it took. The trouble we've had have inspired me and spurred me toward making the decision to study to become an IBCLC, and try to help other mommies who might need a little support and help. Sure, its a natural process, but its not always an easy one. I told a friend who's expecting  her little girl soon that just trusting your body to do its job is a fantastic start. I do think so, but when times get really tough, it doesn't hurt to have a little pig-headed stubbornness in you too.