Thursday, May 10, 2012

a month of gluten-free, diary free eating

a couple months ago, esther developed some dry skin on her back.  at first i figured it was just normal dry skin, which is a symptom of hypothyroidism, but at her 6 month appointment, her pediatrician told me it is actually eczema.  since i have read up on eczema in the past and i know that it is often caused by allergies, i asked if i should try an elimination diet (as some of these allergens may be passing through to my breastmilk).  her ped said that i should, and recommended starting with cutting gluten and dairy.

'bread n cheese' photo (c) 2006, Erich Ferdinand - license:
now, if you know anything about gluten (which is in wheat and some other grains) and dairy, you know that almost every food in the typical american diet contains one or both of these ingredients.  fortunately, i follow the blogs of several mothers of children with these allergies, so i knew that i would be able to find recipes pretty easily.  over all, i dont really feel like i am missing out on anything, the only thing i really miss is butter (i love healthy, delicious butter!).  and sometimes i miss cheese.

fortunately, it hasn't been hard making lunches and dinners.  most of my meals have consisted of rice, beans, meat and veggies.  this means lots of mexican and asian dishes, which i really enjoy.  and sometimes i just throw random things in a pan, heat it up and eat it- anything tastes fine if you put hot sauce on it :)

but where i have struggled is finding good breakfast and snack foods.  if our chickens were producing yet, i'd probably be having lots of eggs for breakfast.  but they aren't, so i have been eating lots of oatmeal.  but oatmeal gets a little boring after days and days in a row, so i sought out some other options.  my other limitation is that i'm not too eager to jump in and buy a bunch of strange gluten free flours and stuff, so i've been looking for recipes that call for things that i already have on hand.

in the past couple weeks, i have managed to put together a small list of recipes that fill my snacky/desserty/breakfasty cravings, without too many weird ingredients (well, at least no weird ingredients that i dont already have on hand :P ).  here is a list of some of these recipes, in case you too are having to be GFDF for a time:

grain-free coffee cake- i made this with coconut oil instead of butter (so that it was dairy free), and arrowroot starch instead of almond flour.  also, i didn't have pecans or any kind of nuts on hand, so i used flaxseed meal, which turned out better than i expected, though i bet pecans would have been much tastier.  oh yeah, and coconut milk instead of almond milk.  and i doubled the cinnamon, because cinnamon is just awesome like that.  so i guess i changed it pretty significantly, but it still turned out great. :)

grain-free banana muffins - i subbed arrowroot starch for the almond flour (but i used the full amount of almond butter).

black bean brownies - sounds weird but they are delish!  i have always made these many times with black beans, but next time i want to try pinto beans, as i think it would improve the texture a lot.

silky smooth bean fudge - this is sooooo delish.  i definitely recommend using pinto beans over black beans... no annoying little pieces of skin in it, and over all a much softer texture.  i recommend serving it with strawberries and dairy-free whipped cream on top.

1 minute whole food chocolate pudding - no instant pudding mix or even heating needed, just make this pudding in your blender in about a minute!  i used coconut milk instead of dairy milk.

another quick and easy whole food chocolate pudding -  this time with avocados as the base- they make it super creamy!  this one also requires no heating, and can also be whipped up in less than a minute.

i have also been enjoying bananas with peanut butter, smoothies (using coconut milk instead of kefir), and chocolate-banana shakes (1 1/2 frozen bananas, 1 T cocoa powder, 3/4 c coconut milk, blended for 1 minute).

as a side note, several people have remarked to me "oh you aren't eating gluten and diary, it must be nice to be eating so healthy!".  this is certainly not (necessarily) true.  in fact, i think that many people jump too quickly to a diet like this assuming that it will be healthy, and continue on it even if they dont see any positive changes.  sometimes we just like to make up a lot of health rules and restrictions and follow them, just so that we feel good about ourselves.

gluten and diary aren't inherently evil foods, they are just bad if you are reacting to them (as esther is).  there are many healthy ways to consume bread and baked goods, especially if they are homemade. dairy, too is a healthy food in my book, especially if the cows are grass-fed, and especially if the milk is raw.  also, if you cut something out of your diet, there are plenty of unhealthy things you can fill it back up with.  stores these days have shelves full of processed foods labeled "gluten free" or "dairy free" but are still full of GMO's, artificial food colorings, preservatives, etc.

anyways, i'll get off my soap box.

and, if you are wondering, esther's eczema has greatly improved, though it is still faintly there.  i will continue to be GFDF for a while, but i will eventually start eating some of those things again (and we'll monitor for reactions, in hopes of narrowing down what her specific sensitivity is).  once she starts solids, we'll hold off on giving her any gluten or dairy for a while.

are you or have you ever been gluten free and dairy free?  how have you coped with this?  what are some of your favorite recipes?

1 comment:

  1. I'm gluten free (mostly)! I do cheat sometimes but I feel WAY better without gluten. I actually feel best when I eat mainly fresh veggies and fruit. I get sick from pretty much all processed food because I am sensitive to gluten and soy... and probably a bunch of food additives. I've been reading up on gluten for a long time and there actually is something inherently bad about wheat. If you have time visit my blog- I just wrote about gluten, wheat, and grains! Thanks for sharing your story :)