Dairy Free Baking: Avoiding Salt Overload

cowsBefore I started the Elimination Diet, I frequently used unsalted butter for cooking and baking. Since I eliminated dairy from my diet, I’ve had to replace that with a dairy-free substitute. Olive oil is great for many tasks, but has a very different taste and different consistency, which limits its application. Unfortunately, many kinds of margarine contain dairy, including I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter (which should be renamed I Can’t Believe It Still Has Dairy In It) and most kinds of Smart Balance.

I’ve found that Earth’s Balance margarine makes a pretty good substitute. I probably would not enjoy it plain on bread, although I never really buttered my bread in the first place. But it tastes pretty good melted inside a baked potato, which I consider the ultimate test. And unlike some margarines (ahem…I’m looking at you, Smart Balance), it does not smell like fish when melted.

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Matzo Ball Soup is Not Just for Passover!

2014-12-08 05.54.14Matzo ball soup was one major benefit of converting to Judaism before I married my husband. It’s traditionally eaten during Passover (in the spring), but I find that it makes the perfect food for a cold winter day.

Matzo ball soup isn’t much work to make, but it does require a good amount of time, especially if you are making the soup broth from scratch, so it’s best to start earlier in the day or the night before if you want to eat it for dinner. Most of that time is just waiting, so you can get plenty of other things done!

I didn’t include instructions for the soup itself. Any basic chicken or veggie broth will work. I make mine by simmering a whole chicken for a few hours in salted water until the meat is cooked, removing the meat, and then cooking the bones for another few hours. Then I refrigerate the broth, skim off the fat, and the next day I add carrots, onions, celery, and parsnips, and sometimes soy sauce or fresh herbs, and cook for about an hour until everything is cooked and it’s ready to serve.

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Dairy-Free Cooking: Easy Pumpkin Cupcakes

2014-12-07 01.31.32I’m happy to say that not all my cooking efforts are Pinterest fails. This one was super easy and earned commendations from both my husband and my mother-in-law. And I just had to move them to the garage
(also known as my winter walk-in freezer) to prevent myself from eating the rest.

The idea came from my sister who made them over Thanksgiving. They looked soooo good, but I could not eat them because there was dairy in the cake mix and in the frosting.

So when I got home, I searched out a non-dairy alternative. I discovered that Duncan Hines yellow cake mix is non-dairy – yay! I also picked up a tub of non-dairy Pillsbury Cream Cheese frosting. Yes, non-dairy cream cheese. I recommend not reading the ingredient label too carefully.

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Dairy-Free Cooking: Creamy Peanut Soup

2014-12-04 07.39.50Since the winter cold hit, I’ve been craving a nice creamy, cheesy soup. Unfortunately, I can’t have any milk, butter, or cheese thanks to my daughter’s dairy allergy. So when my sister posted a recipe for peanut stew on her blog, I knew I had to make it.

I improvised a little (I don’t believe it counts as real cooking if you just follow the recipe!) and made a few changes so it was more like the fabulous African Peanut Soup that my favorite college dining hall used to make. That stuff was so good that whenever they made it, some of my friends would buy as much of it as they could carry back to their dorm rooms. And then come back and get more for dinner.

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Dairy-Free Cooking: Thanksgiving Edition

cowsSince I’m not eating dairy this Thanksgiving, I’ve been thinking about how to make dairy-free versions of some of my favorite dishes. I’m glad the holiday is about eating turkey and not, say, cheese fondue, because it’s actually pretty easy to make dairy-free versions of popular dishes.

Turkey: Most turkeys that you buy from the store should be dairy-free, but you should check to make sure that they are not, for instance, injected with butter by either the manufacturer or your Thanksgiving host. Despite the name, most Butterball turkeys are safe. Any kosher turkey will be safe. As always, if in doubt, it’s a good practice to read the label.

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Dairy Free Cooking: Mashed Potatoes

cowsIf there’s one thing my Irish Catholic upbringing and my husband’s Jewish upbringing have in common, it’s potatoes. (Okay, two. Potatoes and guilt). So when I started eliminating dairy from my diet, one of my first cravings was mashed potatoes. I love them so much that I once cried at Thanksgiving when the relative in charge of the potatoes made them a way I didn’t like!

Nothing can quite replicate the fluffy, buttery taste and texture of potatoes made with real milk and butter. So the best option is to blast them with so much flavor that you won’t notice the absence of real butter.

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Surviving the Dairy Elimination Diet

cowsWhile I was pregnant, I enjoyed casually reading everything on the Internet about babies and so of course I came across articles and blogs that mentioned the Elimination Diet. At the time, I assumed it was something I would never have to deal with and if it came to that, I would definitely just formula feed.

A few months later, I had an adorable baby girl who ate constantly without gaining much weight and hardly slept for more than a few minutes at a time. After extensive googling, I decided the problem was most likely silent reflux and convinced the pediatrician to give me a prescription after a bout of hysterical crying in her office. Me crying, not the baby, of course.

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