Today officially marks one month since I’ve been dairy free. I’ll save you the the full (and not so pleasant) details on why I started down this path, but suffice to say a mix of my doctor’s urging and me finally deciding I didn’t have many other options to live a normal, healthy life led me to decide on February 1, 2015 to try going dairy free.
Dairy free means different things to different people, but for me it means doing my best to avoid any and all dairy and milk proteins. I’m sure I’ve slipped up here or there unintentionally on additives like casein, but there’s only been one time where I truly felt the side effects of accidental dairy in my food. I’m lucky in that I’m not allergic to dairy, I just have enough of an intolerance that my body much prefers living this way.
In my first month, I set out to go cold turkey. No slowly cutting anything out. No trying to be just lactose free. If I was going to try being dairy free, I was going to go the whole nine yards right away. I also told myself I wanted to avoid dairy substitutes in the first month. After buying Go Dairy Free (probably the best known book on how to start living DF), I learned it’s sometimes easier to adjust if you don’t try substitutes. If your body is craving cheese, faux cheese isn’t really going to do the trick and will only intensify the cravings.
Speaking of cravings – I really haven’t had that many. Surprisingly, this former cheese lover hasn’t really craved cheese. However, in the first 15 days or so, I found myself craving a lot of sugar. Apparently this was my body reacting to having removed all of the milk sugars in my body. As such, I started seeking out dairy free (and sometimes vegan) dessert options. If you’re local to St. Louis, Whisk Bakery is a must-try!
Go Dairy Free recommends a few key cuisines that are generally pretty dairy free naturally, including a lot of Asian. I started looking for recipes online that were dairy free just by chance. I needed to learn how to cook without relying on cheese for everything.
One month in, I can tell you it was hard but not as hard as I thought. Eating out was certainly the hardest as I found myself Googling how to make sourdough bread, what’s in Starbursts and more. I’m slowly learning more and more what I can and cannot eat, but I’m not sure eating out will ever be a breeze.
I love to cook so eating at home more isn’t a tough thing for me. But now I find myself in constant search of dairy free recipes that hit the spot when you’re craving something specific.
These five recipes are ones that I found online (all recipes are sourced below) and would make again. All of these are recipes that my dairy-loving husband Bill ate and would likely eat again.
1. Honey Sriarcha Chicken
Recipe found at Creme de la Crumb Blog.
This easy Chinese-inspired chicken dish was super easy, even if it did dirty three dishes once you make rice. The sauce came together so beautifully, I might make the sauce for other dishes in the future!
The only downside to this dish was it left me wanting some crab rangoon on the side – a remnant of my dairy lifestyle.
2. Paleo Crockpot Jambalaya Soup
Recipe originally from Life as a Plate blog.
Bill was the first to note that jambalaya really shouldn’t be soup. However, I ended up tweaking this recipe as I went and accidentally left out the chicken, shrimp and tomatoes. I made half a batch and added about 4 – 5 cups of rice at the end which made for a delicious, spicy, although slightly runny stew. With a little bread for dipping, this was divine!
3. Blueberry Swirl Muffins
Recipe originally from Bob’s Red Mill.
During the first days of my sugar cravings, I wanted nothing more than a huge Starbucks blueberry muffin. I found these and they definitely hit the spot! The two downfalls to these were that Slider also loved them (and ate a few) and that they make a mess of your muffin tins.
4. Lemon Spinach Pesto Linguine
Recipe originally from Milk Free Mom blog.
Repeat after me: Nutritional yeast isn’t as scary as it looks. In fact, it takes wonderful!
This recipe was another that surprised me when it actually came together. I ended up using fresh spinach linguine in addition to the spinach pesto. The nutritional yeast added both the nut and cheese flavors you want in a pesto.
5. One Pan Mexican Quinoa
Recipe (and photo) originally from Damn Delicious Blog.
I love a one pan meal because it saves on dishes and makes leftovers easy. This was true to the original author’s name in every way! My only complaint/edit would be that I would add the avocado on top of each dish individually so it makes for better leftovers.