Tag Archives: food allergies

Dairy-Free Funk

Today Lily went for her third or fourth round of allergy tests. We were REALLY hoping that maybe she wasn’t allergic to milk anymore. She broke out into hives when eating yogurt when she was 8 months old and hasn’t intentionally had anything with even a trace of milk in it in years.

Unfortunately, she tested positive on the skin test today to the extent that she is not ready for a food challenge to see if she can ingest milk. While her reaction was smaller than it was two years ago, the milk allergy is here to stay for at least another year.

This milk allergy is such a pain in the ass. Sure, we’ve found all the substitute foods. I can recite a long list of brand name junk foods that are dairy-free (Oreos! Crisco! French fries!). We know what dishes at most chain restaurants are ok and were outraged when McDonald’s discontinued the popular-with-us dairy-free Chicken Selects (though the chicken nuggets are dairy-free now! They didn’t used to be! FYI!).

The trouble with the milk allergy is that we can’t just go out and eat a cookie from a bakery. I have to make ALL of her desserts for her. We can’t go out for donuts. If Lily gets invited to someone’s birthday party, that means that I have to bake cupcakes and pack a lunch. That’s right: Other kid’s birthday party have turned into a chore rather than a festivity for me. You’re invited to a birthday party? Great! Now I have to bake!

I hate it. And I’m not even really the one suffering here. I’m sure Lily would love to get a big cookie from Panera or wake up in the morning to find donuts in the house or order mashed potatoes from a restaurant. I’m sure she’d kill to try a milk chocolate candy bar from her Halloween bucket or eat the treats other kids bring in our their birthdays, but she can’t. I can send or make substitutes for all these things, but she knows it’s not the same. She knows she’s missing something. And it’s really not fair.

I don’t even care if she is ever able to drink cow’s milk or cheese. I just want to be able to send my kid to a birthday party without having to make a dairy-free cupcake materialize or worrying that someone might accidentally hand her a ranch potato chip.

But it’s not going to happen. And in a lot of ways we are lucky. We’ve been able to control her food enough that she never reacts and when she DID react to accidental exposures it was always with hives and never with anaphylaxis.

She has a great attitude about everything, but seriously, I’m ready for this milk thing to be OVER.

At least it’s not gluten or peanuts.


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A Chocolate Story

One of the saddest things about Lily being allergic to cow’s milk is that most candy bars are off limits. You might not think of it, but almost all chocolate contains milk. Lily has never had the joy of biting into a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

A couple of years ago, I found a type of organic chocolate bar that was dairy-free. I believe it was this one. Unfortunately for Lily, it was also extremely dark chocolate. I know it brings into question my status as an adult or at least as a woman, but I hate dark chocolate and I’m pretty sure most little kids do too. I’m a milk chocolate girl. Dark chocolate tastes too bitter to me. This particular brand of chocolate bar was the most bitter chocolate I’ve ever tasted. It was almost on par with the bittersweet chocolate used in baking. Whenever I tasted it, I wanted to spit it out.

Ghirardelli makes a dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chip that tastes pretty decent, so I would offer the chips to Lily if Rose and I were eating Valentine or Halloween chocolates. But if Rose and I were eating candy bars, Lily wanted the chocolate that looked like what we were eating. It tasted so bitter that I can’t imagine any little kid would like it, but she kept eating it.

Then the other day, I noticed Ghirardelli also makes a dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate bar for baking. We were supposed to toast s’mores at a party later that week. When we got the bar home, we tasted it to make sure it wasn’t secretly bittersweet baking chocolate. It wasn’t! It tasted great!

And Lily had a revelation.

“This is really good! Mommy, I didn’t like that other chocolate, but I love this chocolate! That other chocolate tasted bad, but I ate it anyway.”

Why did she eat it if it tasted so bad?

“I don’t know. Because we were all eating chocolate…”

I wonder if she was pretending she liked the chocolate because the rest of us were drooling over our own chocolate?



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Fun with Food Intolerance

On Tuesday, I was extremely ambitious for me and made an entire turkey dinner while home alone with three children. I even made a pie!

I was pretty damn proud of myself.

So naturally, at 4 am Wednesday, I woke up with stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. I panicked all day that I’d just food poisoned my family, but no one else had stomach issues. Then I got to thinking about it– I had had tummy woes off and on all week.

Then I thought about what days I’d had tummy woes.

And THEN I remembered I had had fresh pineapple on all those days.

I spent about 10 years of my life completely avoiding all citric acid. It used to really bother my stomach to the point where I decided I probably shouldn’t eat it anymore. A couple years ago, I started ignoring my rule about that. As long as I didn’t overindulge with orange juice, I was ok. Then recently I learned how to cut up a pineapple and I couldn’t get enough. It helped that occasionally for completely baffling reasons fresh pineapples were 10 for $10 at our local Kroger. In Ohio. Baffling.

I ate it and I THOUGHT I was doing ok.

Apparently not. Apparently, I can’t digest pineapple. Looking back, I had another episode like this right after I hosted 12 people at my house for neighborhood bunco and was panicking that I had food poisoned all of them. No one else got sick that I heard of. I was too scared to ask and my husband had eaten all the food and not gotten sick. For that particular bunco, I made pina coladas– heavy on the pineapple juice. Ah… it’s all making sense now.

So the bad news is I can’t eat delicious pineapple anymore. It’s a real bummer. BUT the good news is I haven’t been food poisoning people. My meat thermometer and kitchen hygiene are working just fine. We can eat 11 leftover pounds of turkey!

RIP me eating pineapple.


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The Trouble with Picky

Because we’re crazy, we recently came home with a bushel of apples. Do we have any use for a bushel of apples? Do I cook or jar anything? No. We like apples just as much as the next guy, but I’m not much of a homemaker with ambitions of a year’s worth of apple preserves. Most of the reason we came home with a full bushel of apples was because the kids picked half a bushel so quickly and were having so much fun that we decided to keep going.

And now we have a bushel of apples we don’t really need. I’ve been cooking a few things and pushing apples at almost every meal. By the end of this, we might hate apples.

The trouble is, the kids won’t try ANY of the apple things I’ve made. Lily LOVES applesauce, but she won’t even taste my delicious homemade applesauce that is SO good that I actually ate it with ice cream the other day. She says she won’t eat it because applesauce is supposed to come out of a jar. I should be ashamed of myself, right? She also won’t eat a grilled hot dog. She insists that hot dogs need to be microwaved. What a sophisticated palette my child has!

I suppose I should go buy a jar and force the homemade applesauce on her, but you know what? More delicious applesauce for me. I also made apple crisp. The kids wouldn’t taste the apple part of it. They only ate the ice cream topping.

It’s not like I’m trying to force brussel sprouts on these kids. The stuff I just want them to taste tastes like CANDY and they won’t taste it!

It seems that this is the only way to eat an apple in their world.

I guess they only like apples in their natural form? I mean, apples are good and all, but apples stewed in brown sugar and cinnamon are better (though perhaps not better for you). Trust me.

Rose is also denying herself most kids’ favorite foods. Rose hasn’t been exposed to a lot of pizza or macaroni and cheese at our house because Lily has a dairy allergy (above ice cream was coconut milk-based). On the rare occasions we’ve had these childhood delicacies in the house, Rose refused to even taste them. It was very disappointing because I’d like a partner in crime in my love of macaroni and cheese since my husband hates all yellow cheeses (what is WRONG with him?!), but Rose turned her nose up at it.

Of all the things in the world my kids won’t eat, they are turning down foods traditionally known as childhood favorites. What kids don’t like applesauce, pizza and macaroni and cheese? Mine apparently.




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For the Love of Chocolate Chips

Lily has a dairy allergy. It is the bane of my existence.

Actually, at this point, dealing with the allergy these days is not that bad. I know exactly what brands we need to buy of almost everything, so grocery shopping is a breeze (if expensive). There are dairy-free substitutes available for most things, so I am able to feed her pretty normally. We can’t eat cheese-based dishes, but otherwise things aren’t that difficult. I am even able to bake with her regularly and things taste good, thanks to butter flavored Crisco and Kroger brand semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Or at least I WAS able to bake with her.

Recently the cashier let me know something I bought had been recalled. The Kroger Value semi-sweet chocolate chips we’d come to know and love at our house had been contaminated with dairy. I was glad we hadn’t used our most recent bag, but assumed that this was only a problem with one particular batch of chips and we’d be able to continue using them in the future.

The next time I went to buy Kroger Value semi-sweet chocolate chips, I double checked the label and discovered that now they officially contain milk. They changed their recipe. They are no longer dairy-free.

“Aw, that’s too bad,” you say. “Move on and choose another brand.”

It’s not just too bad. It’s absolutely catastrophic. Kroger’s chocolate chips were the ONLY chocolate chips I’ve been able to find in regular grocery stores that did not contain dairy. Not only were they dairy-free, they weren’t intentionally vegan (if vegan at all. We aren’t vegan.) so they weren’t expensive. I believe they cost under $2 for 10 oz, though the internet will not spit up an official price for them.

For $2 I could buy chocolate chips and bake chocolate chip cookies with my dairy-allergic child– cookies that can not be bought at stores or in most bakeries. All of her cookies must be homemade because of the butter and dairy-containing chocolate almost all bakeries use.

Our chocolate chip cookie days are over. We can no longer walk into a Kroger and buy dairy-free chocolate chips in the regular baking aisle. In fact, our Kroger carries no dairy-free chocolate chips at all. Neither do our other local grocery store options Meijer and Wal-Mart. There are no dairy-free chocolate chips in our local regular stores. There is a vegan store in town, but I haven’t been there yet to see how much vegan chocolate chips cost. Everything in that store costs an arm and a leg so I suspect it won’t be cheap. The internet tells me I will be spending five times as much to get chips now that Kroger changed their recipe. A 10 oz. bag of dairy-free chips is nearly $10 on amazon.

Why did Kroger change the recipe? It wasn’t broken. The chips tasted great. And why are there no other mainstream chocolate chips without dairy? The dairy isn’t necessary unless the chips are made out of milk chocolate.

I guess from now on we’ll be baking oatmeal raisin cookies. I love oatmeal raisin, but chocolate chip cookies are a staple of childhood. I am heartbroken that the cost of chocolate chips is going to keep us from baking them.

Maybe there are other cheaper options out there, but for now I’m just fuming at Kroger for changing the recipe and taking away my easily accessible, cheap dairy-free chips.

It’s a good thing Oreos are dairy-free. (And they better stay that way!)



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