Food and Lifestyle Choices

Hey Everyone!

This afternoon I had gone to the Grocery Store with my mother. That’s always fun. We had started off at Bob’s Red Mill, I needed one more flour to make my bread flour mix, so I was able to get that. I have been Gluten Free for 9.5 months now, in addition to being Dairy Free for 2.75 years.

I had done milk free (just cutting out milk, but not other dairy products like yogurt, cheese and ice cream) while I was in college, so I had an idea of what it was about before I had to go off dairy for good. I was a bit hesitant to cut out yogurt and cheese as I loved both. It was hard, but worth it. The hardest part was getting my family on board with being careful about how they hand washed dishes, and washing their hands after they had handled dairy products and that kind of stuff since I am very sensitive to it, but I by no means expected them to give it up just because of me. Since I had gotten onto using Almond Coconut milk, my mom has been a bit more open to trying my dairy free stuff, and she actually likes almond coconut milk like I do.

With that being said, we got talking about cooking, and the types of food we could live without and foods that we couldn’t live without, and for the most part she and I are a lot a like in that way. She and I still have obvious differences, but when it comes down to food, she will eat pretty much anything I cook as long as it is healthy, and is Chicken or Fish. While I am not a big turkey fan, and could live without beef, and generally pork (though I do like a bit of good bacon on occasion), I have found ways to stomach it. It has taken me well over two years, but I have finally gotten my mom to the places that she has accepted that my being dairy, gluten and caffeine free is normal, okay, and just part of who I am.

Over the course of the last 5 years really, which was while I was still in college, my ideas and concepts of food has dramatically changed. It really began with spring term of my senior year of college when I had taken a nutrition class and a history class about American Food and Culture. It really got me thinking about what I was eating, and putting in my body. That was the first kind of light bulb moment. A year and a half had passed by before I had to dive head first into the life of food sensitives and intolerances. Food has been one of the things at the center of my world for the past almost 3 years. Now it is normal. Beings that I have had to think about what is in my food for almost 3 years, it has gone to another level.

I look at food labels for soy, gluten, dairy, trans fats, unsaturated fats, gmo’s and so much more. I am not a hippie or a hipster, or natural granola-ie type. If you were to see me walk down the street, you couldn’t tell the difference between me, and someone who shops and eats entirely mainstream. Yes I prefer natural, organic, non-gmo, grown and produced locally foods, at the same time I don’t always eat these foods. There are times I do shop someplace like Market of Choice, Whole Foods, or New Seasons but even then that is generally for specific items that more specialty items geared to food intolerances and a more natural lifestyle. At the same time I do a lot of my normal grocery shopping at Safeway and Fred Meyer.

While I do prefer Foods that are grown and produced with as few chemicals and enhancements as possible, I am not going to become vegan, or stop shopping at specific stores, or change my style, or quit showering on a regular basis, or not wash my clothes regularly, all because of my food choice. While I still trust Lysol and Clorox for getting my bathroom clean, I definitely try to use cleaners such as Mrs. Meyers Clean Day in the Kitchen. I still love shopping at old navy, and using ivory soap, and going through the health and beauty section at the local drugstore for my shampoo and condition but My preferred face care lines are from the body shop. I still generally live like a normal mainstream person, but choose to live a healthier life, with fewer chemicals in and around my food.

All of this thought came from a conversation with my mother in the grocery store, and finally feeling like I have broken down one huge wall. Getting her to see, smell and tastes that while I do eat differently by choice and force, there is nothing wrong with it. I also got validation that the food that I eat tastes not only “Normal” but actually tastes good. I have also been learning, and teaching my mom about how with a few substitutions or alterations I can pretty much eat normal food, just made with ingredients that won’t mess with my system.

I can only speak for myself, but I feel that I am somewhere in the middle of mainstream grocery consumerism and the “counter culture”. I have taken what I feel is the best of both and combined them to create my own way of life.

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Simple cooking

Hey everyone!

This week I cooked up some chicken thighs. I had mixed together a packet of dry onion soup/dip mix (Safeway brand), with some garlic powder, concentrated chicken broth flavor boost packets, and mayo. I the pit that concoction over the top of the chicken, and baked it at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until done.

I had my first latte in 2.5+ months yesterday. I had had a couple cups of coffee a couple weeks ago. I can totally tell that the coffee has a negative effect on my system, and it was a wise decision to give it up. I laid in bed wide awake until 3 this morning, and the kept waking up until I got up at 9.

Now that I have been off dairy completely for about 2 years, and dealing with food sensitives for almost 3 years, I just cook. I still read labels, but it is just how life is and I am used to it. It does take time, but it is worth it.

Rhubarb Sauce

Earlier my dad had brought a pile of about 15 to 20 stalks of rhubarb down to show me that he had picked it, so that I would know it was here to make something out of. I had thought about crisp, then I remembered that I didn’t have enough of my stuff to make a crisp that I could eat. That being said I made rhubarb sauce. It is a lot easier, faster, and easier to make gluten and dairy free.

I cut the ends off the stalks, then chopped them up and stuck them in a saucepan, and added just over a cup of brown sugar, about 3 tablespoons of tapioca, some cinnamon and nutmeg and about half a cup of water. I then put the pot on the stove on medium heat for about 10 minutes then turned it down to between low and medium (about 3 if your stove has numbers), and stirred occasionally so that it didn’t stick. I left it on the stove until it cooled down and the rhubarb got soft. Once it is soft remove from the heat and let cool.

This sauce is really good with tapioca or vanilla pudding.

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Pinterest Board

Hey All!

For the past few months, I have been keeping a Pinterest Board for Gluten Free and Dairy Free food ideas as well as recipes that could be easily altered to be Gluten Free and Dairy Free that sound really good.

I started this board, because I wanted to have a place to keep all the ideas of things that sound good, so that I could try them once I am able to do a lot more cooking, and having my own kitchen. With that, my plan is once I try them, and if I like it, I would share it here on my blog for you all. At the same time, I wanted to share these with you all because there are some that I may try and don’t like, that some of you will. I also would love feedback from you, my readers that if you have any Gluten and Dairy Free recipes that you love, I would love to give it a try.

Now that Fall is here, there are so many fall recipes I want to try, and share.

Education is Key

There are so many diets out there, that when I mention that I adhere to a strict Dairy and Gluten Free diet, I know I get weird looks, and often hear “You are one of those people”. There is a stigma associated with any diet where you take a food group or more out of your diet. Most of the reactions I get are from people who don’t understand it, and are uneducated about it, and believe that I am some hippy who needs my head examined. For some their diets are by choice, for moral, ethical, or other reasons. For others like myself it is because our bodies can’t process and break down certain kinds of foods.

For those who have chosen to adhere to Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo, Soy Free, Egg Free, Vegetarianism, Veganism, unprocessed foods, or another kind of diet, I am not one to judge or act like they are weird. That is their decision, and good for them for sticking with something, that is healthier.

For those of us with food intolerances and food allergies it is a whole different story. I know from experience that there is a lot of resistance (in my adhering to the diet and to education on their part) as well as a lot of misinformation, indifference, and lack of care to how food affects my body. While I don’t really care what those I know casually think about it, what bugs me the most is the lack of wanting to learn and understand what the impact of it has on me, from my own family that I live with is like. I have had to fight tooth and nail for almost 3 years, and I still get sick from their indifference.

As a whole, society still sees Gluten/Dairy/Egg/Soy intolerances as something that is not its problem, when in reality is an ever growing problem within the framework of society. My society as a whole revolves around food, and the social roles of food. I know I feel ostracized quite often for something I can’t help, and did not ask for or choose to take on. Even though the US is one of the better one for leading the way in having better tasting and a better variety of Gluten Free and Dairy Free food, it is still a challenge and struggle to find food that I can eat.

I know for myself personally, I began taking a second look at the food I was eating, during the Nutrition class I took while in college. Developing intolerances to Gluten and Dairy has since added to how closely I look at the food that I eat, and consume. In the past three years I have really started avoiding processed foods, and eating natural, organic and non GMO foods as much as possible.

I know a lot of people who don’t give food intolerances a second thought because they don’t have to deal with it 3+ times a day. That much I can understand, as I was the same way until 3 years ago. At the same time, There are those who feel that because those of us who have food intolerances or adhere to certain diets are different and “weird” we just need to shove it, even to our own expense, and to the extent of at best having an upset stomach, and spending more time than necessary in the bathroom to being sent to the hospital with a life threatening condition.

I am not saying the our society needs to jump on the band wagon of adhering to a specific diet themselves, all I am saying is that it is time that society changes to be more tolerant and understanding of those who either need to adhere to one of these “specialty diets” or chooses to for personal reasons. Why should we suffer, and be sick because others choose to be ignorant and uneducated on a growing concern. I know there are those with food intolerances who don’t like to talk about it, but if it isn’t talked about, then how is it going to get out there, and how are others going to be educated? even if you don’t have to directly deal with food intolerances, you most likely know someone who does. There is still a lot of awareness to be made and had.

I have also heard the “you can’t eat (Fill in item here), I would die if I couldn’t have (aforementioned item here)”. My general response is “Not having (Item) doesn’t really bother me anymore”, when in my head the thoughts I have are along the lines of “You learn to live without it or be sick all the time, and yes even now and again I would kill for a grilled cheese sandwich with Tillamook Cheese, sourdough bread, and butter on the outside, and real ice creme and Oreo’s for dessert, but I would rather go without that, than be in the bathroom, being sick for the next two weeks.”

I am choosing to keep this blog to help those who have food intolerances and are new to having them, as well as their families, friends, roommates, and are trying to figure out what is safe and what is not. It is also for myself so that I can share my journey, and what I have learned from having normal every day food make me sick to learning how to deal with it, and what I have found that works.

Coffee Update

I have been off of coffee for more than a month and a half now. I have definitely noticed a difference in my body. My sleep pattern has definitely evened out, and I am still having an easier time of falling asleep at night. I have also noticed that the headaches that I would quite often wake up with, and linger throughout the day have disappeared.

I don’t know if it is caffeine in general or the acid in the coffee that I have a sensitivity to, as I drink a cup of black coffee a day (Bigelow’s Vanilla Chai Spice tea), but otherwise drink water or herbal tea.

The past month and a half has been a lot easier than I thought it would. The fact that I am not working at the moment also has helped the withdrawl process and made that easier. Now that I have been off coffee I don’t have any plans to start drinking it again. Even when I was drinking coffee I was doctoring it up really good with coffee creamer (prior to dairy intolerance) and sugar (post dairy intolerance). I had a hard time drinking it straight. Just as well I went off of it.

Dairy Free Options

Being dairy free was the hardest for me. As it was the also the first food intolerance that I figured out that I was dealing with. Figuring out what contained dairy and its derivatives (Whey and Sodium Caseinate) is an uphill challenge. It is not impossible. I found this webpage that has a list of terms to look for in the ingredients list that contain dairy, may contain dairy and does not contain dairy.

I have found more so with dairy than with gluten that they like to sneak dairy and its derivatives into foods that you would not imagine had dairy in it. Like Spaghetti seasoning, Taco Seasoning, Bouillon cubes, Salad Dressings, Breads, pretty much anything in a box. Reading Labels is critical to a successful dairy free diet.

There are a lot of dairy free milk alternatives out there. There is Soy Milk, Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, Rice Milk, Hemp Milk, Oat Milk, Hazelnut Milk. Of all of these I have tried a lot but the one that stands out for me, that I love, and would have a hard time living without is the Almond Breeze Almond Coconut blend. It s a blend of Almond and Coconut milks and it is awesome. I used to soley rely on rice milk, but it was super thin, and did not work for puddings and not as well for baking. Straight almond milk was too almondy for me, and coconut milk by itself was to rich. I came across the Almond Coconut blend about a year ago (my aunt had it, and let me try it), since then I have been hooked. It has a similar consistency to regular milk, so it can be used to replace real milk in recipes. I also like the fact that the coconut milk tones down the almond flavor, while the almond milk balances out the coconut milk’s richness.

I have also found that Almond Dream/Coconut Dream ice cream is a great tasting replacement for normal ice cream.

Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate chips are dairy free and they are less expensive than the branded dairy free chocolate chips. They are also a name brand so you can find them pretty much in any grocery store.

The knorr vegetable bouillon cubes are dairy free, as are the Safeway brand vegetable and chicken flavor enhancers. Swanson chicken broth is safe. Pace Picante mild and medium salsa’s are safe. as are Mission tortilla chips. If you are only dairy free mission brand flour tortilla’s are dairy free.

I was reminded by a reader, for those of you who are not gluten free, but are dairy free, Oreo Cookies are dairy free, surprisingly enough. I have not had Oreos since I went Gluten Free, I was super happy when I was only doing dairy free and found out that Oreos were safe.

There are other brands and such that I know of that I have here locally, that I don’t know the equivalent of in other chain grocery store.

Your life is not over if you are finding out that you have to go dairy free. There are so many great options out there. It can be done. The learning curve is the biggest issue. The first year is the hardest.