My dairy free plan of action

My doctor thinks my kids and I might have a dairy allergy or intolerance.  To be honest I’ve been waiting for the day someone was going to tell me to get my kids to avoid dairy products.  When I was younger I couldn’t eat dairy products at all as they gave me constant colds, but as I’ve got older I seem to be able to eat them without getting colds.  I do have IBS problems (and various other niggles) though and I guess it could be down to the dairy foods.  My kids are suffering from IBS too, so we are going to give it a go and try eliminating dairy products for 21 days (we started earlier this week) to see if they are linked to the IBS.

Having had problems with dairy when I was younger, I don’t have a lot of dairy products really.  I have water on my breakfast soaked oats. I drink herbal teas (which don’t need milk and I never had any milk in tea in the days I used to drink it).  I don’t eat ice cream or processed foods that might have dairy products as a hidden ingredient…  I do eat quite a lot of cheese though and occasionally yoghurt, but I can live without dairy products altogether (I’ve done it before, I can do it again!).
My kids are a different story though.  They are used to having milk on their soaked oats, yoghurt for dessert after dinner, cheese sauces, cheese sandwiches, cheese in omelettes, cheese on pizzas…. Plus if they go to a party they eat cakes, crisps and other snacks which often have dairy products in them…
So some alternative plans are hatching
  1. Phone up 4 childcare settings and tell them to keep my kids off dairy (school, after school club, pre-school and nursery!) – I can cross this one off the list as done!
  2. Stop putting milk on their breakfast and find an alternative.  I tried soaking their oats with water, but they weren’t too keen on it (although I can get away with it for my younger one if I pretend I have poured alternative milk on – sneaky mum). I found three alternative milks in my local grocers and I chose rice milk because I was intolerant to soya when I was younger, so the kids might be too, the almond milk had a sugar substitute in it and the rice milk had the least cr*p in it.  However the rice milk does still come in a carton that can’t be recycled locally.  Plus I keep reading stuff about rice and arsenic which doesn’t sound good (google it) and I don’t really want my kids using rice milk long term.  Thankfully Sandy a regularly commenter on this blog had a great suggestion (thank you very much Sandy) – to make my own almond milk!  
  3. Yoghurt – thanks again Sandy – you have given me the idea to make almond milk yoghurt.  I searched online for a vegan yoghurt starter culture and the options appear to be either use some ready made soya yoghurt as a starter or use the contents of some probiotic pills (preferably one which contain multiple strains of probiotic bacteria to get a nice mix of good bacteria in there) and so actually it might be a good cheaper and less packaged solution all round if I can make my own live almond milk yoghurt. I don’t know if it will work or if the kids will like it, but I’ll give it a go.. Another alternative, which the doctor suggested was to make goats milk yoghurt from goats milk, but I think I will struggle to find goats milk locally in glass bottles
  4. Omelettes – usually once a week after my older sons swimming lesson we get home too late to make a big dinner, so we always make omelettes which are quick and easy.  We mix up the eggs, pour them in the pan and slice some cheese over (sometimes we add chopped up veg to the eggs if we have time).  I can’t imagine omelettes without cheese would go down well with the kids, so instead of omelettes we are going to substitute with scrambled eggs and beans (although the beans do have sugar and come in a tin, but I still haven’t worked out an alternative to those just yet).
  5. Cheese and butter – Goats milk and sheep milk – my local grocers sells goats milk butter and goats milk cheese.  I have tried the butter and I couldn’t tell the difference between it and normal butter.  I have also been eating the cheese, which is ok.  The grocer said he will get some actual goats milk in for me to try as well if I want, but the cheese is packaged in plastic and I can well imagine the milk is too… My local butchers sells a wide range of cheeses though and next time I go there I will find out if they have any goats milk/ sheep milk cheese they can sell me with reduced packaging (i.e. cut me some off from a big block of it like they have been with cheddar cheese – see more here).  I also wonder why if we are intolerant to cows milk we would be ok with goats or sheeps milk and whether now is a good time to introduce them to our diet, or if we should avoid them as well for the time being??  Obviously there are dairy free spreads or vegan cheeses I could buy (not available in my grocers at the moment), but I try to avoid all chemically refined oils and I haven’t had a chance to look into vegan cheeses yet.  I do like coconut oil though, which can be used as an alternative to butter.
  6. Keeping the hubby happy and preventing food waste – when the doctor said to me we should give up dairy products for 21 days I had a 2 litre bottle of milk we no longer needed and a lot of cheese in the fridge as I had just been out and bought cheese in bulk.  My husband doesn’t want to go dairy free, he doesn’t need to and just because we are cutting it out it doesn’t mean we should.  He loves my cheese sauce and I decided that making some in bulk was a perfect way to use up the milk and some of the cheese.  I now have enough cheese sauce to last him 9 meals, which I have put in containers in the freezer (as pictured above). I might freeze some of the cheese to use in cooking another time and if I can’t use it all I can always give it away via my Facebook food sharing group (read more here). I still have a little milk leftover which I plan to freeze in a ice cube tray (if I can find one – I seem to have lost them all!)
  7. Alternative desserts – there will a blog post about this coming soon!
  8. Take alternative dairy free snacks to parties – keeping the kids off dairy at parties, will keep them off most sugary foods as well, which I’m not going to complain about! I also managed to stop my youngest from eating cheese at snack time at a playgroup we go to without too much trouble, so here’s hoping (otherwise we will just have to make exceptions at parties)!!!
I am definitely feeling much more positive about going dairy free with the added challenges of no plastic packaging, no sugar or sugar substitutes, no refined oils and no soya than I was yesterday. It is do-able – thanks for all the kind messages.  I’m OK, was just feeling challenged more than usual 🙂
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