Surviving a dairy-free diet — ice cream required

Going Dairy-Free
Fortunately, most of our baked good recipes can be easily modified.  Instead of cow’s milk, we substitute soy milk.  Almond milk can also work some places, but soy is more similar to dairy in terms of fat and protein.  For butter, we are using Earth Balance spread.  It’s not cheap, but neither is the organic butter we buy.  Fortunately, we’re going for dairy-free, not vegan, so we are free to use eggs.

To make sure Matthew would not be deprived for the trial period, we made up dairy-free versions of some of favorite baked goods, including a sweet biscuit (great topped with fresh fruit and ice cream), date-oatmeal cookies, and one of our go-to chocolate chip cookie recipes, along with some bread and English muffins.

Hold the Cheese
I’ve never really experimented with “vegan cheese,” and the opinions on taste seem to be mixed.  The ingredient lists of many tend to read like a foreign language, which is a red flag, so cheese-like-substances are off the menu.

Avoiding Hidden Dairy
Dairy hides in many products in the form of casein and whey.  It could also lurk in products with ingredients that include “flavoring” or “natural flavoring.”  Since our normal diet contains minimal processed foods, lurking dairy isn’t a big issue, but we did check a few items in our pantry, including the breakfast cereal.  For us, the main issue here is that it makes any meals we don’t prepare (i.e., restaurants or dinner at parents) tricky.

Ice Cream
Finally, we get to the important part 😉  About a year ago, we bought a new-to-us Donvier ice cream maker, and other than occasional Ted Drewes (St. Louis’ iconic frozen custard) and gelato, we mostly make our own ice cream.

We modified the basic vanilla ice cream recipe in the Donvier booklet with great success.

Dairy-free Vanilla Ice Cream
3 eggs
7 oz. unsweetened soy milk
7 oz. unsweetened almond milk
1 c. sugar
1 – 14 oz. can of coconut milk (use full fat, NOT low fat)
2 t. vanilla

Beat eggs with soy milk and almond milk in a saucepan.  Add the sugar.  Cook over medium heat.  Stir constantly, gradually adding the coconut milk as the mixture heats.  Cook for about 10 minutes, until mixture reaches 170° F.  It should start to thicken at this point.  Remove from heat.  Let cool, then add vanilla.  Chill completely before pouring into ice cream maker.  Follow manufacturers’ instructions.

This recipe makes about 1 quart of ice cream (which is what our ice cream maker holds).  You can easily double it and freeze it in two batches.


Note: For best texture/consistency, enjoy some immediately after freezing in the ice cream maker.  If the ice cream has been in the freezer, let your serving sit at room temperature for a few minutes, until it just starts getting melty, then stir well and enjoy!


Dairy-free trial

Matthew is in the middle of a 4-week-long dairy-free trial after a he tested positive for dairy allergies a few months ago.  For obvious reasons (ahem, gelato and cheese), we put off the elimination diet until after our Italy trip.  He also hoped that a trip to the allergist for a skin prick test would shed more light on some other potential food allergens that he might want to test with elimination.

Possible culprits for him, based on the blood test, include apples, hazelnuts (which could indicate ALL tree nuts), and peanuts (which could indicate ALL legumes) — a pretty bleak list when you’re looking at from the point of good sources of vegetarian protein.  Granted, he’s been eating these foods for years, so he clearly doesn’t have the acute, anaphylactic shock-type allergies that some people have, but there’s a chance he might feel better, and experience relief from some issues, including asthma, eczema, and some tummy problems, by cutting out certain foods.

The allergist and skin prick test provided little additional information in terms of the food allergies, so he decided to go ahead and start with eliminating dairy, since that was his highest allergy according to the blood test.  For a guy who loves ice cream, cheese, and baking with butter, four dairy-free weeks is not something to take lightly.

Come back tomorrow to find out how we’re making it work.  Hint: homemade dairy-free ice cream 🙂

Summer eats and treats — Part 2

Tom and Jo invited us to dinner on Sunday night.  Grilled pizza was on the menu — a summertime classic! 

My pizza contribution involved a combo of homemade pizza sauce and pesto as the base, topped with red bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, and walnuts.  Tom suggested the walnuts, and they added a lovely crunch.  I added some small pieces of fresh mozzarella, keeping it low cheese.
And for dessert, homemade ice cream sandwiches, featuring triple chocolate cookies and strawberry ice cream!  As we feasted, a summer storm rolled in, and we’re finally getting some relief from the heat.  Ah, summer.