Over the past month, I've learned of two different friends who discovered their toddlers have food allergies. It's so upsetting, and I completely remember the surprise, frustration and confusion when we first found out Little Guy had food allergies.
We're still not sure if Little Gal will have to deal with food allergies too, but we're testing the waters right now. I actually didn't feel like blogging about this until now - probably for a few reasons - but mainly because I wanted to blog about it when I had more information...
A few days before Thanksgiving we found one hive on Little Gal's tummy. UGH.
ONE hive you say? Well, it could be due to anything! True, but this was exactly the age at which my son started getting hives while I was nursing him. So, previous experience led me to jump into immediate action.
I ate ice cream the night before, and yogurt the morning of the hive. So I pointed a finger at dairy. I decided to cut it out of my diet until we knew a little more. I haven't eaten dairy for the past 2 months and although it's sometimes frustrating, it was easier this time since I've been cooking dairy-free for Little Guy for over two years.
Since I know so many mamas who have had to give up dairy while nursing their babies, I figured I'd post some helpful tips about how to make your dairy-free diet tasty and satisfying. The one thing you need to remember is that there are always substitutions! For example:
Can't have cow's milk? Try rice, soy, oat, almond, coconut or hemp milk. They sound odd, but I bet you'll like at least one of them if you try it. I personally like to mix rice and hemp milk together. My son drinks soy milk since it has the most protein in it.
Can't have cow's milk yogurt? Try coconut or soy yogurt. So Delicious Coconut Milk yogurt and Whole Soy and co. are two of our favorites.
Can't have cow's milk cheese? Try Daiya cheese shreds. Although Daiya seems to be the tastiest substitution, this is probably the hardest one for me since I'm a major cheese lover. There's really no great substitution for all the various cow's milk cheeses that are available, and Daiya isn't necessarily nutritionally rich. I've also found that instead of cheese on my sandwich I like to substitute avocado as it provides that creamy texture of the missing cheese. Avocado also has so many great nutritional qualities I mention here.
Even though I haven't written any blog posts over the past month, I have been taking photos of food since I knew I wanted to blog soon. Here are some examples of what I've been eating as QUICK and EASY dairy-free meals. Just a note that these are NOT all allergy friendly for my son, but of course could be adapted with other ingredients.
9 Dairy-Free Meal Ideas
Dairy-free waffles with blueberry coconut yogurt, banana and flaxseed
*I'm still loving Nature's Path waffles for a great gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free easy waffle option
Oatmeal with Sunbutter, bananas, dates and flaxseed
*We still use Sunbutter as a great protein option instead of PB
Egg wrap with spinach, mushrooms and Daiya cheese
Amy's California Veggie Burger wrap with avocado and lettuce
*I love Amy's California veggie burgers as they are the best veggie burgers I can find that have limited whole food ingredients.
Grilled "cheese" and butternut squash soup.
*Grilled cheese made with Daiya. The butternut squash soup is either the Organic Pacific or Organic Imagine brand.
Big salad with Amy's California Veggie Burger on top
Big salad with salmon burger on top
Quinoa pasta with sausage and spinach
*The easiest leftover meal ever: microwave leftover quinoa pasta, marinara sauce and fresh spinach (spinach cooks in microwave!). Add sausage or other protein and Daiya cheese)
Black beans and rice with avocado and cilantro
*This was leftover from taco night, and I just added fresh cilantro and avocado to jazz it up. The rice is just black beans, brown rice, a can of diced tomatoes and cumin.
So where are we now? Well, we recently went to the allergist to ask about next steps. She did a skin prick test on Little Gal just to see what we might be dealing with. Now, I've read that you're NOT supposed to skin test for things with which you have not reacted. Sometimes skin prick tests can be inaccurate and show false negatives which leads to unnecessary dietary restrictions.
However, the doctor still wanted to get an overall picture of her potential allergic response. She said even if the test shows she IS allergic, we can not be sure until she actually tries the food herself.
Thankfully, NOTHING popped up. I can't tell you the relief I felt as I watched her back to see nothing turn into a hive. However, skin tests can show false negatives also, so again, we won't really know until she starts eating the food herself.
Here's a photo I snapped of Little Gals' back. It's an odd angle, and I took it with one hand while holding her in the doctor's office! The red marks on the outside are from a red marker to show where they did the skin pricks. Then you can see slightly red marks on the inside - thankfully no hives. The very red mark on the bottom with one big hive is the control area. She didn't even seem to notice the skin prick test, so I was happy she didn't cry!
For other mamas who are dealing with dairy allergies while nursing, you can find more information in the resources I posted here.