our (secretly dairy-free) Thanksgiving

I was really (realllly) hoping Emma would be able to tolerate dairy in time for Thanksgiving, but it sadly wasn't meant to be. Jared and I debated our options - make everything as we normally would (chock full 'o dairy) and deplete my pumped reserves so Emma could still get dairy-free milk for a couple of days, or try to do Thanksgiving completely dairy-free. Neither option was all that appealing, and in the end we decided to chance it and have a dairy-free Thanksgiving. The only thing was that we had to be able to fool my dad - a man who for the past two years has scowled when we told him we got an organic turkey. Having to explain that he wouldn't be able to tell the difference thanks to "vegan buttery sticks" and almond milk would have gone over about as well as raisins on Halloween... so we decided it was best to just not tell him. And by some miracle, we actually managed to fool him! (Shhh!) Here's what we made:

  • The same turkey as last year but with Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks (EBVBS) instead of butter
  • Whole berry cranberry sauce from Whole Foods (canned... yes, I'm a cheater)
  • Caramelized Onion and Cornbread Stuffing - I used this recipe for dairy-free cornbread, and substituted EBVBS for the butter and MimicCreme Almond & Cashew Cream for the heavy cream. It was a little on the dry side, so I added some more chicken stock and that did the trick.
  • Not Your Mama's Green Bean Casserole - This was easily my favorite dish of the whole meal. I wouldn't shut up about it. Dairy or no dairy, it's the best green been casserole I've ever had. Like most of the reviewers, I ended up using French's Fried Onions after burning the onions the way Alton says to cook them. Once again, I subbed EBVBS for the butter and MimicCreme Almond & Cashew Cream for the half and half. We definitely couldn't notice the lack of dairy in this one.
  • Creamy Dairy-Free Mashed Potatoes - These were the real low point of our dairy-free Thanksgiving experiment. The recipe called for faux sour cream, and we used Wayfare "We Can't Say It's Sour Cream." It also called for white potatoes instead of russet, and ours were a little more green than white. The whole thing turned into a green, tangy mess. We told my dad that we had tried a new recipe and it didn't turn out so well (not a lie) and he was a sport and tried them anyway. Jared and I didn't even bother. That's how bad they were.
  • Pillsbury Crescent Rolls - Dairy-free! Who knew?!?
  • Vegan Pumpkin Pie - This was my first time making pumpkin pie from scratch (well the filling anyway) so my only comparison is store-bought, but it was really yummy. Vegan baked goods can sometimes have that "not quite right" taste or texture to them, but that wasn't the case with this recipe at all.
Hopefully that's the last time we ever have to have a dairy-free Thanksgiving, but it's good to know that it can be done and still be super tasty. Besides, this funny little one is totally worth it...

no moo for me

I mentioned in my Link Love post a couple weeks ago that I had to give up dairy for a while because Emma is super sensitive to milk protein. We thought we just had a really fussy baby on our hands, but after describing her symptoms (I'll spare you the details) my lactation consultant suggested cutting out dairy to see if they improve. A life without dairy sounded truly awful. Just look at my bio... cheese and ice cream are among my favorite things in the whole world! BUT, this is my baby we're talking about - and if cutting out dairy meant a happier, less gassy, etc. (trust me you don't want me to elaborate) baby, then it was worth it. So off I went, kicking and screaming (okay, mostly just whining and pouting) into the land of the dairy-free. And within 48 hours, Emma was like a whole new baby. She slept better during the day, she fussed WAY less, and her diapers were far more pleasant to change - well, as pleasant as that sort of thing can be. As much as I hated cutting out dairy, I found myself wishing we'd known to try it much sooner than 2 months in.

So what can't I eat? More than you'd think... milk, butter, cheese, ice cream... the list goes on and on and on. My biggest challenges so far have been eating out and traveling. I now have to be that person who asks what stuff was cooked in, does it have this, does it have that. It's not the asking I mind so much, it's the having to make sure all the things I really want to be included are left off the plate. It's amazing how much stuff includes dairy. Stuff you wouldn't think - like BBQ potato chips. I will say that the FDA has done a fantastic job of updating the labeling requirements for packaged foods. It very clearly states on most foods "CONTAINS MILK." Very helpful.

Where does that leave me? Well, wouldn't you know it - Emma's also sensitive to soy (which is fairly common among babies with a milk protein intolerance), which is unfortunate because there seems to be a soy substitute for almost every dairy thing you can think of. So, I replaced regular milk for almond milk in my cereal. My favorite brand I've tried is Almond Breeze (Original.) I replaced coconut ice cream for the real thing (a poor substitute, but it helps partially fill a gaping void.) If we absolutely have to use butter in something we use these Earth Balance vegan "buttery sticks." I've found myself pulling Elie Krieger's book The Food You Crave off the shelf quite a bit because healthier recipes often get that way because they exclude dairy.

I'm nearly 2 months in, and while it has gotten easier, I still have to fight the urge to start gnawing on the big block of Tillamook cheddar that's currently in our fridge. I thought an upside to all this would be that the rest of my pregnancy weight would fall off, but I've been hitting the coconut milk ice cream pretty hard in an effort to curb my dairy cravings, so I've only lost another pound or 2. I really am going to have to start working out again. Depressing.

I've read that a lot of babies grow out of their milk protein intolerance around 6 months, which would be just in time for the holidays. I've already let Santa know that all this girl wants for Christmas is a pint of Haagen Dazs in one hand, some baked brie in the other, and a gigantic chocolate milkshake to wash it all down with. Yep, definitely going to have to start working out again.

PS... did you know that Oreos are completely dairy free??! It's sort of frightening that a chocolate wafer and cream cookie has zero dairy in it... but not so frightening that I won't eat them. Let's not get crazy here, folks.