Giving Up Dairy, Soy & Wheat for my Babies

Both of my boys have been super colicky babies. My older son E had such severe food sensitivities that he broke out in a horrible rash and diarrhea from allergens just passing through the breastmilk from my diet, before he was eating any food of his own. My younger son F had such severe reflux that I spent pretty much his entire first six months just doing laundry because of all of the vomiting. Prescription medication helped, and so did cutting out dairy/wheat/soy from my diet again. Thankfully, I am able to reintroduce wheat into my diet again but I am still limiting dairy until he has completely outgrown his reflux.

It was really depressing the first time when I realized I needed to eliminate those foods from my diet, but it seemed easier this time around. I realized from chatting with other moms in Facebook groups about breastfeeding that this is a surprisingly common issue that lots of new moms face. My grandpa even told me recently about how my dad and my uncle were both initially allergic to dairy and soy, so my grandmother had to feed them a 1950’s formula based on dehydrated, powdered meat, which he called “meat milk”. I didn’t believe it at first until I actually found an old advertisement online! Apparently “meat milk” was a real thing as awful as that sounds!

Here are some of my favorite tips for breastfeeding moms who want to try eliminating dairy/soy from their diets!

1. Embrace coconut/almond milks. They are have so many different varieties now, it’s great! There are even almond milk coffee creamers, pumpkin spice almond milk creamer (thanks Trader Joe’s!!), and more! My particular favorite is a coconut milk ice cream sandwich from So Delicious.
2. Make sure that you eat lots of leafy greens to get enough calcium/magnesium. Talk to your doctor about taking a supplement if you feel like you may not be getting enough from your diet once you cut out dairy. I used to eat a ton of dairy and I know my calcium/magnesium intakes were initially way too low when first cutting out dairy.

3. Embrace the art of making nut cheeses! I have learned that it is a lot of fun to make nut cheese! It comes out similar to goat cheese in texture and there are so many ways you can alter it! The key is pre-soaking the nuts for a few hours (I like cashews or macadamia nuts), then mixing in a food processor with a bit of water, lemon juice, and any herbs/seasoning you would like to mix in.

4. Skip the fake cheese/fake pizza substitutes. They are never satisfying in the same way, and you end up feeling cheated. Learn to appreciate fresh ingredients, and your cravings will adjust accordingly with time. 🙂

5. Try coconut aminos instead of using soy sauce! Initially, I was making a homemade soy sauce substitute that I found via Pinterest every time we went out for sushi, but that got really tedious very quickly. I recently discovered using coconut aminos instead and it has been great! I actually prefer the taste to regular soy sauce now. 🙂

6. Get comfortable reading ingredient labels. Scan to the end of the list first, where they list the common allergens in bold or caps lock. Soy is in so many foods that you wouldn’t expect! I’ve had to learn this the hard way with my 3 year old son who is still unfortunately allergic to soy but thankfully outgrew his dairy sensitivity.

7. Try out some paleo cookbooks for creative inspiration! I wish I had discovered those the first time around. I recently even found some great paleo slow cooker cookbooks that have been great!

8. Most important tip…if you look at it with a different mindset of that this is a fun creative challenge, instead of viewing it as a drag and a restriction, it will make it a lot more enjoyable!

Check out some of the tasty nuts cheese crostadas that I made recently for an event I hosted for my photography business! 🙂

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Resuming My Cook-Once-A-Week Routine!

Back when we used to shoot a lot of weddings, I got in the habit of cooking lots of meals for dinner in batches on one evening, and freezing the individual dinners. It was great on the nights when I was up for all hours, working on wedding photos. We would just pull something out of the freezer, throw it in the oven, and have a healthy, homemade meal in about half an hour. Since our son was born, I somehow got out of the habit of doing that. I decided that it was time to start again! We have gotten in the habit of having too much takeout food when things get busy and I knew that this is exactly what we need.

I started by asking my husband to keep an eye on E for an hour or two so I could cook. Then I started making a huge batch of sauteed chopped veggies in my wok (4-5 bell peppers, various colors, one whole chopped onion, 4 cloves minced garlic, tomato, and a bit of coconut oil, and a tiny bit of salt & pepper). I also started cooking a bunch of rice on another burner. On a third burner, I started cooking up a bunch of lean ground beef with a bit of salt, pepper, and dried oregano. On the fourth burner, I started boiling water for pasta. I grabbed a couple of boxes of Indian food mixes that I found in the non-perishable section at Trader Joe’s, two cans of organic garbanzo beans, a jar of pasta sauce, and a can of diced tomatoes. I also had a package of marinated carne asada my husband found at Target that was set aside in the fridge, ready to barbecue. Here is what I made with the above ingredients! I made multiple batches of most of the meals, so it actually ended up being enough for almost two weeks!

Meal #1: Trader Joe’s Punjab Eggplant. Added garbanzo beans and veggie mix, served over plain jasmine rice.

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Meal #2: Gluten free rice pasta with lean ground beef meat sauce and veggie mixture. aliciainwonderlandblog.com

Meal #3: Barbequed carne asada with rice mixture. I added the can of diced tomatoes, some salt and pepper to some plain rice, and added in a bit of the veggie mix and some garbanzo beans. This marinade on the meat was amazing, and I was really excited that we found one that did not have soy in it!
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Meal #4: Trader Joe’s Punjab Choley with extra can of added garbanzo beans and plain jasmine rice.aliciainwonderlandblog.com

It was so easy, and really didn’t take that long! For each meal, I took the frozen portions out, put them in an oven safe dish and baked for about half an hour at 375 degrees F. It is such a relief not having to worry about what I am going to come up with each night for dinner. 🙂 Also, I am quite proud to say that even my meat-loving Texan husband was a big fan of the two vegan meals we had last week. Definitely a major win for me!

Lamb Kabobs Recipe

My grandfather used to make some amazing kabobs that everyone in our family remembers fondly. He used to say that his recipes were from his Lebanese mother’s family recipes. After both of my grandparents on my mom’s side had passed away, I found a middle eastern cookbook in their kitchen with two very well-worn pages; a tabbouleh recipe and a kabobs marinade recipe (two things that he cooked frequently). Unfortunately, we will never know if he was actually following these recipes, and whether or not his mother’s recipes actually existed. I tried the kabob recipe in the book, and after some experimentation and modification to my own tastes, I came up with a similar version that my husband and I love. I can’t remember if it is exactly like my grandfather used to make, but we think this version is pretty darn tasty.

Ingredients:
16 oz. can of peeled tomatoes
juice of 1 lemon
1 yellow onion, diced
2 dried bay leaves, crumbled
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp garam masala
salt & freshly ground pepper
lamb steak
chopped vegetables for skewers

I start by crushing the diced onion in a mortar and pestle to release some of the juices. Then I combine the onion, tomatoes, lemon juice, bay leaves, olive oil, garam masala, salt and pepper into a large bowl and mix to create marinade.

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I use a jar of peeled tomatoes from our garden, but regular canned tomatoes can be substituted.
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The marinade before mixing it all together.
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Then I trim the excess fat off the lamb steak, and cut it into cubed chunks.
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Once the lamb is cut up, I put it in the marinade and let it sit in the fridge as long as possible, usually a full day. When we are ready to cook them, I skewer the lamb chunks on with some chopped veggies, and grill them on the barbeque. I usually put them with some red and yellow bell peppers, onion, mushrooms, and sometimes some cherry tomatoes. The final result is shown below!5

Tomato/Prosciutto Pizza Recipe: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Egg-free

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For the most part, our baby boy has been feeling better now that the dairy and soy seemed to have worked their way out of my system and his. However, after snacking on a bunch of tortillas one evening, I noticed that his stomach started getting really upset again. He didn’t have all of the extreme symptoms he was getting from the dairy & soy, but it was still enough to raise a few red flags for me. I decided to try to add wheat gluten to my list of potential allergens to avoid while breastfeeding. I was really craving some pizza, so I decided to try making one from scratch that would not have any gluten, dairy, soy, or egg in it. Seems like a tall order and that the result would not be worthwhile, right? It came out amazing! I cannot wait to make this again. Just as good, if not better than any “regular” pizza that I have had in a while!

Ingredients:
3 fresh artichokes
1 package Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Dough Flour
1/2 large tomato
handful of basil leaves
Earth Balance Soy-Free Margarine
Daiya dairy-free soy-free cheese
Two slices of prosciutto

I started by steaming a few artichokes from our garden. Next I started preparing Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Dough Mix, and made the dough according to the instructions. Since I have an egg allergy, I used Ener-G Egg Replacer instead of real eggs.

After the initial short baking of the crust, I brushed on some melted Earth Balance Soy-Free Margarine with a pastry brush, all over the crust. Then I sprinkled on some Daiya dairy-free and soy-free mozzarella cheese. I added some thinly sliced tomato and julienned basil. I removed the leaves from the artichoke hearts (and saved the leaves to eat while the pizza finished cooking), and broke up the artichoke hearts into chunks and added on top of the pizza. I cooked for the remainder of the time recommended on the dough flour package.

Once I removed the pizza from the oven, I finished by adding the julienned prosciutto slices. I added the prosciutto at the end so it didn’t end up overcooked. The end result was amazing…I can’t wait to make it again! On a side note, you could always leave the prosciutto off for a great vegan option. 🙂