Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I love stuffing... it's one of the cornerstones of both our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. However, every time I pick up a package of stuffing mix, I see the dreaded words "hydrolyzed soy protein", "soy protein isolate", "soy flour" or "whey". Luckily, stuffing isn't difficult to make from scratch! I love getting artisan bread to make my stuffing from. One of my favorites is a roasted garlic bread that has whole garlic cloves studded throughout the bread. As with anything, read the label to make sure there's nothing you don't want in the bread.

1 loaf (or more) good, crusty bread of your choice
1 large onion (or a little more, if you like lots of onion), chopped
4 to 5 ribs of celery, chopped
2 medium apples, cored and chopped
1/2 lb MPSI safe sausage
1 stick of margarine or 1/2 c clarified butter (if tolerated)
A few cups MSPI safe chicken broth
Poultry seasoning or a combination of your favorite herbs for stuffing

Slice the loaf. Lay several slices on top of each other in a stack, slice into rods, then rotate 90 degrees and cut into cubes. When the bread is cubed, spread it out on the counter to dry overnight OR put it in a thin layer on cookie sheets and dry it out in a warm oven for a few hours.

When you're ready to make the stuffing, melt the margarine or clarified butter in a large skillet. Add the onion, celery, apples and sausage, crumbling the sausage as it cooks. When the sausage is brown and the vegetables and apples are soft, add a cup or two of chicken broth and add enough poultry seasoning to everything until it tastes right for you. Place the dried out bread cubes in a large, greased baking pan. Pour cooked mixture over the bread, stirring to coat. Add more chicken broth, a little at a time, until the bread is as moist as you like. Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes.

**Note** If you like a more uniform, softer, scoopable stuffing, add an or two to the mix during the final mixing, adding broth until it's fairly loose, then bake as directed. I prefer a stuffing that has distinct, separate pieces of bread rather than a soft stuffing.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pumpkin Pie!!!

I made my first dairy free pumpkin pie the other day, and it was FABULOUS!!! I only made TWO changes to the recipe on the back of the pumpkin can:

I substituted the amount of evaporated milk with an equal volume of canned coconut milk (the kind with the solids in it that's thicker than the one meant for drinking that comes in a carton). Then I added about 3 Tbsp flour to the pie (not called for in the original recipe).

I made a pie first with only the coconut milk substitution, but it was a tad soft set (softer than a regular pumpkin pie), so the 2nd pie I made I used the flour and it worked fabulously!

Mashed Potatoes

I love mashed potatoes, and so do my children! I've finally come up with a mashed potato that is acceptable to me without all the problematic dairy (my 'regular' mashed potatoes have butter, heavy cream and sour cream in them...)!

MSPI safe margarine or clarified butter (if tolerated)
MSPI safe chicken broth
Garlic salt
MSPI safe non-dairy creamer (original flavor)

Scrub potatoes (peel or don't peel...your preference) and boil in just enough water to keep from scorching. When tender, drain any remaining water from the pot. Mash the potatoes (dry), then add some chicken broth and garlic salt. You want them definitely thick. Add a knob of margarine or clarified butter, stirring until the margarine or clarified butter is melted. Finish with enough non-dairy creamer to your preferred consistency. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional garlic salt if desired.

Cranberry Sauce

1 bag cranberries
1 cup orange juice
1 cup sugar

If you like smoother cranberry sauce, place the berries in a blender with the juice and puree. If you like whole berry sauce, skip this step! Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, allowing it to cook until all the berries pop (for whole berry sauce) and/or the sauce thickens. Skim white foam off the top, pour into a serving dish and chill until serving!

How has it been a month???

Not sure where the past month went, but apparently it went somewhere! lol Thanksgiving was yesterday, so I thought I'd get some of my Thanksgiving recipes up... Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Had some company for dinner, and found out last night that one of the people coming was allergic to dairy. The relief on this person's face when I said my son was allergic too and not to worry about it was priceless!!! I made breakfast for dinner tonight for everyone, and everything turned out perfectly! No one could tell what was dairy and what was dairy-free... the only thing in the entire meal that had any dairy in it was buttermilk pancakes (and I had some buttermilk-less buttermilk pancakes as well). Tonight's menu was:

*French Toast
*Buttermilk-less Buttermilk Pancakes
*Traditional Buttermilk Pancakes
*Scrambled Eggs
*Hash Browns
*Fried Apples
*Assorted jams and jellies (made by my amazing mother-in-law!)
*Orange Juice & Raspberry Lemonade
*4 different 'milks': Dairy milk, rice milk, plain almond milk, and chocolate almond milk (my son's favorite!). I wasn't sure which non-dairy option my guest would prefer, so I put several out.

Dinner was fabulous, and no one could tell anything was different!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

It's starting to cool off, and I'm excited for soup weather!!!

4 Tbsp canola oil
1 very large onion, diced
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced celery
4 Tbsp flour
2 to 3 qts MSPI safe chicken broth
2 cups fresh (or frozen) corn kernals
1 seeded jalapeno, very finely chopped
2 cups shredded chicken
1 cup wild rice blend (raw)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot. Add onion, garlic, carrots & celery, and saute until vegetables begin to soften. Sprinkle flour over veggies and cook, stirring constantly for a minute or two (not to brown the flour, just cook off the raw taste). Add 2 qts broth, stirring constantly, along with the corn and jalapeno. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, until the broth thickens very slightly. Add chicken, rice blend and nutmeg. Simmer until rice is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add a little more broth if the soup gets a little too thick.

*Optional* When serving, people not allergic to dairy can pour a spoonful of heavy cream over their individual bowl.

**To make a 'cream' soup, add some non-dairy coffee creamer (plain flavor) at the end of cooking (1 to 2 cups). I originally ate this as a dairy cream soup (with 1 c heavy cream stirred in at the end). It's good both without the cream or with non-dairy creamer subbed instead.

Yields 8 generous servings

Sunday, October 23, 2011

School is kicking my trash...again

It's been a month since I posted. So sorry about that! Things have been nutso around here. I get home from work, get something on the table for dinner, supervise homework, then get kids to bed, then collapse from exhaustion 10 minutes after the kidlets are in bed, only to wake up and do it all over again the next day. The Husband is working a different shift (one he hasn't worked in several years), so I fly solo on weeknights, and it's been a difficult transition. This week is going to be killer, but then I should be in a good place for a few weeks (possibly???). lol Then again, it will calm down just enough to start the craziness of the holiday season. Maybe I won't breathe until after Christmas. That sounds like a better idea anyway!

In other news, Child #2 had a birthday in the past month, and Child #1 will be having a birthday soon. No rest for the weary, I suppose.

I'll be posting more soon as the holiday season begins. This is our first holiday season dairy and soy free... I have some ideas floating in my head and have seen some great recipes out there that I'm anxious to try. Namely df/sf pumpkin pie! There will be one thing though on my holiday table that's NOT df/sf...my mother's Chocolate Marbled Rum Pie. Hello chocolate...hello heavy cream...hello 6 billion calories! Haven't been able to make it df/sf and keep the taste and texture okay.

Orange Rosemary Chicken

One of my favorite dinners as of late... you can use breasts or thighs.

1.5 lbs chicken breasts or thighs
1 large onion, sliced thinly
2 Tbsp canola oil
4-5 smallish potatoes
1-2 orange sweet potatoes
1/2 c orange juice
1/2 tsp grated orange zest (from about half the orange)
1/4 c MSPI safe chicken broth
3/4 c water
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1 1/4 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 to 1/2 tsp pepper

Cut chicken thighs in half or chicken breasts in fourths. Heat oil in large skillet. Add onions and saute until onions begin to turn translucent. Add chicken and sprinkle about 1 tsp salt over all and brown on both sides (takes about 10-15 minutes). Remove chicken & onion to a plate. Meanwhile, as chicken is browning, cut potatoes & sweet potatoes into roughly 1" chunks. Mix juice, zest, broth, water, brown sugar, flour, 1/4 tsp salt, rosemary, and pepper until smooth. Add potatoes to pan along with sauce mixture, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add chicken & onions (along with any drippings collected in the plate) back to the pan. Stir. Recover and allow to heat for 5-10 minutes, until chicken is heated through (may need to add a little more water (maybe 1/4 cup) if it goes too dry). Serve with other vegetables and/or a salad. Yield: 4 generous servings or 6 smaller ones

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Aunt Barbara's Special Hot Dish

My kids love, love, love this! It's simple, lovely comfort food that my kids are guaranteed eat. The original version calls for condensed chicken noodle soup, which has either soy protein isolate or fermented whey, or both. Fortunatly, there are several dairy and soy free alternatives, but not as already prepared soups...there are several dry mixes available.

1 to 1.5 lb ground beef
1 small to medium onion, diced (depends on how much onion you like)
1 envelope MSPI safe dry chicken noodle soup mix (Mrs. Grass or Lipton KOSHER are both safe brands as of Sept '11...but always read labels to make sure)
2 c water
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper
Hot cooked rice (about 3 cups)
Cooked green beans (about 3 cups)

*NOTE* IGNORE DIRECTIONS on soup packet label. You'll be making it with HALF the required water (2 c instead of 4).

Brown ground beef with onion in a large saucepan or deep skillet. Drain fat, leaving meat/onions in the pan. Add 2 c water and bring to a simmer. Add the envelope of dry soup mix and stir. Once it returns to a boil, reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 5 minutes, or until noodles are tender. Season to taste with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Serve over rice with green beans on the side. Yield: 4 servings

Knock-off Cafe Rio Pork Barbacoa

I love me some Cafe Rio occasionally...my favorite thing is their pork barbacoa, which is a sweet, slightly smokey, slightly spicy shredded pork. While this version isn't totally spot-on, it's still awesomely delicious!

1 pork butt roast (about 4ish pounds)
1 can Coca Cola
1 c salsa
1 onion, sliced
2 Tbsp adobo sauce (or less if you don't want it terribly spicy)
2 c brown sugar
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of salt

Place pork roast in a crockpot. Cover with remaining ingredients. Cook on low for 7-8 hours (until it starts to shred when you try to pick it up with a fork) or 4-5 hours on high. Shred meat and return to the crockpot (leave all liquid in the crockpot) and let simmer another 30 minutes in the juices. Serve over rice, in tacos or burritos, in salads, or any other way that floats your boat! Makes 12 servings (from a 4 lb roast).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


We had corn muffins last night with "Hot Dog Soup" (what my kids call Lentil Soup). I love cornbread...it probably comes with the territory of having a parent from the South. However, there are several different camps in the cornbread camp.

Southerners usually prefer white cornmeal to yellow(though not always), and Southern cornbread is NOT SWEET. Many don't even put a smidgen of sugar in the cornbread. While I love a good, crusty piece of Southern cornbread, I feel adding a single tsp of sugar brings out the flavor of the cornmeal. It's not enough to make it sweet, but it lends a depth of flavor.

Westerners usually prefer yellow cornmeal over white (though not always), and western cornbread is SWEET. Like this could basically pass for a piece of cake kind of sweet. And it's often served with honey butter for extra sweet amazingness. While adding additional sugar makes for a wickedly good piece of cornbread, to me it feels like more of a dessert bread. So, I compromise and try to meet the two worlds somewhere in the middle.

Making cornbread safe for MSPI isn't difficult: Make sure you use canola, safflower, or your favorite oil instead of melted butter, and use rice milk instead of regular milk or buttermilk. Now, without further ado...

1 c flour
3/4 c cornmeal (yellow or white)
1 tsp sugar OR 3 Tbsp sugar (depends on if you like your cornbread savory or slightly sweet)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp oil
3/4 (ish) c rice milk

Blend flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl combine eggs, oil and rice milk. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until combined (don't overmix!). *FOR SOUTHERN STYLE CORNBREAD* Preheat cast iron skillet or baking pan. Add several Tbsp oil and coat bottom and sides of pan (be generous). Pour batter into preheated, greased skillet or pan. Place in oven at 375 until golden brown and crusty (the preheated pan with plenty of oil will help form an amazing crust). *FOR WESTERN STYLE CORNBREAD* Pour cornbread into a greased or sprayed baking pan. Bake at 375 until sides are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. For muffins: Pour batter into greased or lined muffin tins (3/4 full) and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pasta with Buttered Corn

Until I saw this, I'd never thought about adding corn to pasta. This is a tasty, light meal that's quick to prepare. Use fresh corn when possible, but frozen corn works as well.

1 lb hot, cooked pasta
1/3 c MSPI safe margarine OR clarified butter (if tolerated)
2 c fresh cut corn kernals (about 3 large ears)
3 scallions, chopped
Salt and pepper

Toss hot pasta with margarine or clarified butter. Add corn and scallions. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pecan, Orange and Cranberry Bread

I have very fond memories of cranberry orange bread... one of my aunts would always bring a loaf or two every time she visited. The only substitution needed from the original recipe is to swap rice milk for dairy milk, and oil for butter!

2 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 c sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c canola oil
Zest of 1 large orange
1/2 c orange juice
1/2 c rice milk
2 large eggs
1 c fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 c chopped pecans or other nuts

Preheat oven to 350 (400 for muffins). Grease and flour a loaf pan OR line 2 muffin tins with paper liners (24 muffins). In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, orange zest, orange juice, milk, and eggs. Beat until combined. Add cranberries and nuts to DRY ingredients and toss to coat. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. If making muffins, you may need to add a little more rice milk if the batter is a little too dry. Spoon batter into prepared pan or muffin tins. Bake loaf for 60-70 minutes, bake muffins 15 minutes or so, until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. *Optional: Brush warm bread with glaze made from powdered sugar, orange juice, and a few drops of vanilla extract. Yield: 1 large loaf or 24 muffins.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup

My kids could live off chicken noodle soup alone (if I let them)! Don't be afraid of the pinch of sugar...it's exactly that: the amount you can pinch between your thumb and index finger. It doesn't add a specific taste to the soup, but if you leave it out, the soup just won't taste the same!

1 1/2 c diced carrots
1 1/2 c diced celery
1 large onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2 c diced or shredded chicken
3 qt MSPI safe chicken broth
1 pinch sugar (trust me)
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped (can use a Tbsp or so dried)
1 tsp(ish) dried basil
Egg noodles
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large (6 qt or larger) pot. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and saute until onions begin to soften and turn translucent. Add chicken broth, chicken, sugar, parsley, and basil. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add desired amount of egg noodles and simmer until noodles are tender. Monitor broth level when cooking noodles and add more broth if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Lentil Soup

One of my favorite (and my kids' favorite) soups!

1 1/2 c diced celery
1 1/2 c diced carrots
1 large onion, diced
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 c (generous) brown lentils
3 qt water (or 1.5 qt water + 1.5 qt MSPI safe chicken broth)
1 tsp garlic powder (or use 3-4 cloves fresh minced garlic)
a few gluggs of MSPI safe Worcestershire sauce (optional)
Salt & pepper (to taste)
2 c elbow macaroni (optional)
1/2 lb cooked sausages or hot dogs, sliced (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large (6 qt or larger) pot. Add celery, carrots, onion (and fresh garlic, if using). Saute until onions start to soften and turn translucent. Add lentils (pick through them first to remove any debris). Add water or water/broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and allow to simmer for 45 minutes. Stir soup, checking water level. Add more water if needed. Add worcestershire sauce (if using), garlic powder (if not using fresh garlic), elbow macaroni and sausage (if desired). Simmer until pasta is tender, monitoring liquid level and adding more water or broth as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Great with cornbread!

Banana Chocolate Chips Muffins

A fabulous treat for breakfast! I mixed some up this morning and plan to freeze at least half for busy mornings.

1/2 c MSPI safe margarine, shortening, or coconut oil
1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 c mashed bananas (2 to 3 large)
2 eggs
1/4 c rice milk or non-dairy coffee creamer
1 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c MSPI safe chocolate chips
3/4 c chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream margarine with sugar. Add bananas, eggs, rice milk, and vanilla and mix until combined. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then add to wet mixture, mixing just until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Be careful not to overmix. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if using.

Fill greased or lined muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Yields 18 muffins (or 15 big muffins if you overfill the tins like I do...).

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A New School Year...

I've been MIA for a week or two... school has started and I have a very active and challenging class this year! Once I get home I'm lucky to get my kids in bed before I fall asleep. I've not made it past 9 PM once this week! I may be scarce over the next few weeks until I adjust to the insanity that is school!

Breakfast Musings

So much of breakfast seems to revolve around the dreaded "D"...dairy. It took me a little while to be comfortable experimenting, but I'm glad I did. Here are a few of our favorite breakfast foods and what I've done to modify them to be MSPI friendly:

Pancakes: Buttermilk-less Buttermilk Pancakes

French Toast: I substituted non-dairy coffee creamer for the milk I'd normally add to the eggs

Scrambled eggs: Whisk them with water or with non-dairy creamer for a richer taste

Cinnamon rolls: I substituted rice milk for the regular milk in my favorite recipe, then instead of brushing/spooning butter on the dough, I used coconut oil. They are fabulous!

Muffins: Substitute rice milk for the regular milk, adding a little lemon juice if the recipe calls for buttermilk. My son loves chocolate muffins, so I'll often buy a MSPI friendly chocolate cake mix and instead of following package directions, I'll add 1 small can of pumpkin and 1 egg, beating until smooth, possibly adding some dairy-free/soy-free chocolate chips. Bake in muffin liners. The pumpkin is nearly undetectable and adds vitamins and fiber. Eat within a day or two or freeze (they are very moist and go bad quickly).

Baking powder biscuits: Again, substitute rice milk for the regular milk

For cereal (hot or cold) my son prefers using almond milk (especially dark chocolate almond milk!)

Chocolate coconut milk (or almond milk, if you prefer...but we like using the coconut milk because it's naturally a little sweeter) heated up makes a good hot chocolate. Toss in a few marshmallows and it's perfect!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sweet & Sour Meatballs

1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
3/4 c oatmeal
1/2 c rice milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp MSPI safe worcestershire sauce
1/2 c finely chopped onion (or 1 tsp onion powder)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Mix ingredients thoroughly. Shape into 2" meatballs (makes about 15 meatballs). Place in a sprayed baking pan/casserole dish. Top with sauce.

1/2 c vinegar
1 c brown sugar
1 c MSPI safe barbeque sauce
1/4 to 1/3 c water
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp MSPI safe worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp salt

Combine sauce ingredients until smooth. Pour over meatballs. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through. Serve over rice.

Breakfast Casserole

My favorite (very dairy-filled) breakfast casserole starts with croutons, cream of mushroom soup, milk & heavy cream. Not exactly MSPI friendly, eh? Well, I've revamped it and it's fabulous! I'd caution against using any packaged croutons. All croutons I've looked at have either whey and/or some type of cheese (usually parm). Instead of using croutons, I buy a loaf of artisan garlic clove bread (as in studded inside with whole garlic cloves...it's df/sf!), cube it and let it dry on the counter (uncovered) overnight. The cream of mushroom soup is the most work intensive part of this, and it's not that bad. The end result is worth it!

2-3 cups dried, day-old bread cubes
1 3/4 c rice milk, divided
1 1/2 c plain coffee creamer, divided
8 oz mushrooms (finely chop about 3 mushrooms, slice the rest)
4 Tbsp oil or MSPI safe margarine
4 Tbsp flour
6 eggs
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess water
1 lb MSPI friendly breakfast sausage, cooked & crumbled
1 to 2 c Daiya cheese shreds
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Salt & pepper
Celery seed
Cumin (just a little!)
Ground mustard
MSPI safe worcestershire sauce
any other herb or spice that floats your boat

Before beginning, spray a 9x13 with cooking spray, then put the bread cubes in it. Sprinkle the cubes with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, a little celery seed, a little cumin (just a touch!), a little paprika (just a touch!), some basil, oregano, parsley, chives, marjarom, and any other herb you like. The more variety of herbs you use, the better it seems to turn out. Don't be shy! Now set that aside and let's make the mushroom sauce...

In a large skillet, heat the oil or margarine. Add the finely diced mushrooms only (reserve the sliced ones for later) and cook until they darken and soften. Sprinkle mushrooms with the flour and cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly. Add 3/4 cup rice milk and 1/2 cup coffee creamer, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until it thickens. Season to taste with salt, pepper, a little onion and garlic powder, a pinch of mustard powder and a dash of MSPI safe worcestershire. Allow to cool. While it's cooling, top bread cubes with spinach, sliced mushrooms & sausage.

Now, in a large bowl, combine the cooled mushroom sauce, remaining rice milk, coffee creamer and eggs until smooth. Pour over everything in the pan. Cover with foil and let sit in the fridge several hours or overnight. When you're ready to cook it, remove foil, top with Daiya cheese shreds, recover and bake at 375 for an hour, removing foil during last 10-15 minutes of cooking.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

Who doesn't love a rich, steaming pan of creamy, lovely, chicken pot pie? My family has always loved it, and I had a darn good (and darn easy) recipe for one. Only one problem: It was full of DAIRY!!!

I set about to making my own dairy-free version, and came up with a great one! Even my husband doesn't realize it's dairy-free. The sauce takes a few minutes, but it's the most time consuming part of this whole process. Amounts are relative. I never measure, so it's all just approximation.

Chicken Pot Pie

2 cups diced or shredded chicken (cooked)
2 cups frozen peas and carrots vegetable blend
1 cup diced potato (small dice)
1 double crust MSPI-safe pie crust

Line pie pan with pie crust. Add chicken, veggies and potato. Pour sauce over everything, coating evenly. Top with remaining crust and flute edge. Cut vents in top of pie crust. Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes, until crust is golden brown.


2 (ish) cups chicken broth
1 (ish) cup rice milk
1 (ish) cup non-dairy coffee creamer (plain)
1/4 cup MSPI safe margarine
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/4 cup flour
Salt & pepper
Garlic powder
Worcestershire sauce (check that it's MSPI safe)
Ground mustard

In a pot, melt margarine. Add onion and cook over medium heat until onion softens and turns translucent. Sprinkle flour over onion/margarine mixture. Cook, stirring constantly for a minute or two. You don't want to brown the flour, just cook the raw taste off it. Whisk in rice milk and coffee creamer. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly to thicken. Stir in chicken broth. Add a few shakes of salt and pepper, a few shakes of garlic powder, a slosh of MSPI safe Worcestershire, and a pinch or two of ground mustard. Taste. Adjust seasonings until it's how you like it. Add a little more liquid if it's too thick (either broth or creamer). If it's not 'chicken' flavored enough for you and the texture is spot on, then add a little MSPI safe chicken bouillion to pump up the chicken flavor without thinning the sauce out.

Pizza, Part III

I meant to follow the pizza cheese post with a post for homemade pizza sauce and some other info, and I got side-tracked (easy to do in this house!).

I originally got this from my brother. I've fiddled with it a little, and he's fiddled with it a little, so now our recipes look different! Making your own pizza sauce is so incredibly easy, assuming you have a blender (and honestly, is there anyone who doesn't have a blender???) and a few simple ingredients.

Pizza Sauce

2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes, DRAINED (reserve a little juice)
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp black pepper (or red pepper flakes if you want it a little spicy)
Garlic powder
Onion Powder
Anything else you like in your sauce....

The above mentioned herbs are only suggestions. Experiement with your favorites and come up with something you like!

In a blender, combine the diced tomatoes (NO juice), tomato paste, sugar, salt, pepper, and a health dose of onion powder, garlic powder, and any herbs you like. I pretty much stick to oregano, basil, thyme, and a little marjarom. Put the lid on the blender and blend on the highest setting for 2 or 3 minutes. You want to make sure it's completely pureed. Pause to scrape down sides occasionally, if needed. If it's too thick for you, add a couple tablespoons of the reserved juice off the canned tomatoes until it's the consistency you like. I like my pizza sauce thick. My brother likes it a bit thinner. Taste it and adjust any seasonings until it's how you like it. Yield: Approximately 2-3 cups sauce (I've never measured!)...enough for 5 or 6 pizzas.

Now...about pizza toppings.

All the veggie and fruit toppings should be completely fine. They're definitely fine assuming you use the fresh fruit or the fresh vegetable. Double check any processed fruit or veggie to make sure it's MSPI safe. Where you have to be concerned with pizza toppings is the MEAT. You got it... the meat!!! I didn't know until I started reading labels that many manufacturer's use either whey or fermented whey, or a derivative of whey or lactose. This can make or break your pizza. Read ALL meat ingredients (sausage, pepperoni, ham, canadian bacon, etc.) carefully to ensure you're choosing one that's MSPI safe. Pile on the toppings, pile on the Daiya cheese, and you're set!

Friday, August 19, 2011

To Ghee or Not to Ghee...

In my last post I talked about soybean oil, and soy lecithin. Since they are both fats, they don't transport the protein, and many who are sensitive can handle them (my son being one). So that got me thinking about BUTTER.

Butter, is not a pure fat. It has some milk solids (which contain protein), which makes it forbidden. But is there a way to remove those solids, leaving only the fat behind??? YES! Clarified butter is often referred to as ghee, and is common in Indian cooking. Clarified butter carries no casein, whey, or lactose. Since my son is able to handle soy-based fats, I was hopeful ghee would work as well. Luckily, he has been able to tolerate it well, and I have been very pleased with it, as it allows me to give that lovely buttery flavor to things I cook. I've been able to find ghee at my local natural foods market, however it's possible to make it yourself. I haven't yet made any myself, but just yesterday bought some dairy butter so I can try my hand at it!

The Dreaded Soybean Oil and Soy Lecithin

When I first took my son off dairy and soy, I was amazed at how many products contain soybean oil and soy lecithin. It's in practically everything processed! Until I knew exactly how sensitive my son was, I wanted to pull everything out of his diet, including soybean oil and soy lecithin. It was hard, but very much possible! For many people with sensitivities, soybean oil and soy lecithin ARE OK. They are fats, and do not carry the protein. However, for some highly sensitive people, both ingredients are still a problem and need to be avoided. Luckily my son is able to handle both soybean oil and soy lecithin, which opened up a lot of packaged/processed foods for us (thus making my life easier). The only way to know if you or your child can tolerate soybean oil and soy lecithin is to completely avoid them, making sure there is no reaction, then add them back in, watching for any reaction. Good luck!

Milk Options

There are a lot of "milk" options out there, and it can be very confusing! Oat milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, rice milk, hazelnut milk, almond milk, cashew milk...so many possibilities!

The first thing to keep in mind when choosing a milk alternative is nothing tastes like dairy milk except dairy milk! None of the options taste like "milk". They each have a different flavor, and some are suited to some things more than others. I personally haven't tried hemp milk or oat milk, so I can't comment on them. When we eliminated dairy milk from my son's diet, we switched to chocolate almond milk for drinking and for using on cereal. His preference before the switch was always chocolate milk, so I thought starting with a chocolate version of the non-dairy milk would be the easiest, and I chose almond milk because almond milk naturally has a higher fat content that rice milk, and therefore would hopefully have a better 'mouth feel' than the others. My son loves chocolate almond milk, and I think it's pretty good too (reminds me of rocky road ice cream).

Once I started cooking, I realized the need for keeping different milk alternatives in the house. I found that almond milk has a fairly strong taste, and it changes the taste of baked goods (yup...found that out the hard way!). For most baking and cooking, I use rice milk. If I'm looking for a slightly sweet flavor and a richer, creamier, buttery texture, I use coconut milk (which is an excellent source of medium chain fatty acids). For sauces (white sauce, gravies, etc.) I typically use a combination of rice milk and non-dairy creamer, either with or without broth.

Don't be afraid to buy small bottles of different types of milk and experiment with each of them in different ways, for different uses. Find out what works for you!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What About Pizza Cheese?

The big question when making pizza for those with MSPI is what to do about the cheese. Some prefer to leave the cheese off completely and just do tomato sauce with various classic pizza toppings. Others use cheese substitutes with varying degrees of success (not all dairy free cheese is created equal). My family uses a fabulous dairy- and soy-free cheese substitute. You must read labels carefully, as many dairy-free cheeses have a soy base, and a popular rice cheese (which appears dairy-free) has casein, a milk protein. Another issue is the melt. Many dairy-free cheeses are a bit 'plastic' and don't melt very well. Luckily, I knew about Daiya Vegan Cheese Shreds, and we love them! Daiya cheese melts and strings like dairy cheese, without the dairy. It doesn't taste exactly like dairy cheese, but it tastes similar, and is one of the best on the market that we've found. Daiya isn't available everywhere yet, but they are constantly expanding. Check out their website to see if a store near you carries their product!

Pizza Crust

Pizza is one thing our family missed at first, but I quickly learned how to make! Many of the commercially available ready-to-bake crusts contain dairy (typically cheese, as well as milk), making them off-limits. I have a great crust recipe I got from my brother, which is quick to mix up and tastes fabulous!

Pizza Crust

4 c. King Arthur's 00 flour (use bread flour if you can't find 00 flour)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp vital wheat gluten
1 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp yeast proofed in 1/4 c. warm water
1/3 c. good quality olive oil
Warm water
Cornmeal for dusting

In mixer fitted with dough hook, combine 2 c. flour, sugar, gluten and garlic salt, mixing briefly to combine. Add 1 1/4 cups water, mixing until smooth. Add yeast mixture and mix for at least 5 minutes. Add olive oil and continue to let machine knead the bread. Add remaining flour, 1/2 c. at a time until a soft, slightly sticky dough is formed. You may use all the flour, less than all the flour, or slightly more than four cups of flour. Cover dough and allow to rise until doubled (either for an hour or so in a warm place, or up to overnight in the refrigerator). Punch dough down and divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll out on slightly floured surface to desired size and thickness. Dust pizza peel with cornmeal and lay crust on peel. Brush with olive oil. Top as desired and bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until edges of crust are golden brown. Yield: 4 pizza crusts

Buttermilk-less Buttermilk Pancakes

2 c. flour
2 to 3 Tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 c. rice milk + 1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. melted MSPI safe margarine or oil

In a large bowl combine dry ingredients, whisking to blend. In separate bowl, combine rice milk/lemon juice mixture, eggs, and melted margarine or oil, whisking to thoroughly combine. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, mixing lightly and just enough to combine. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Do not overmix! Pour by 1/2 cupfuls onto hot griddle, turning when bubbles begin to pop on the surface and the edges look dry. Serves 4 (2 pancakes each).

Variations: Toss 1/2 c fresh or frozen berries with a Tbsp of flour and add to batter, or add 1/4 c MSPI safe chocolate chips for a chocolate chip pancake.

Our Story

When my son was a baby, the pediatrician recommended I use soy formula since I was both nursing and supplementing with formula, since soy formula is supposedly easier to digest. There was a distinct change in his digestion starting at 2.5 weeks of age. Instead of newborn pasty poo, he passed hard poo, and was in a lot of pain. It wasn't long until we realized he couldn't tolerate soy. We were prepared for that reaction though, as the Husband's family has a long history of soy intolerance. Switching to a milk-based formula was better, but still a bit problematic. I didn't think much of it, though, since he seemed to do better than before.

At the age of 2, he continued to have severe constipation issues, and he was put on Miralax by the pediatrician. We avoided overt forms of soy (but never cut out 'hidden' soy), and continued with the Miralax regimine. Fast forward 5 years... at the age of 7.5 years, his digestive issues became much more pronounced and things were going downhill. I finally gave up with the pediatrician and began researching things on my own, and thanks to a friend, I learned about Milk Soy Protein Intolerance (MSPI). The more I read, the more I wanted to learn. It fit my son to a 'T'. As of April 1, 2011, he has gone dairy and soy free, and he's a much happier kid when he's not had anything with dairy or soy. The pedi was confident that after a time, when I began re-introducing dairy and soy into his diet again, that he would be able to handle things on not only a derivative level, but to have milk products cooked or baked into food items. I've discovered over the summer that's not the case. The true derivative level is OK for us... but even small amounts of foods with casein, whey, soy protein isolate or anything that resembles milk or soy sends us back to square one with digestive issues.

I was very overwhelmed at the beginning of this journey and had NO IDEA what to do and what we were going to eat! My son has never been a huge meat eater, relying more on dairy then meat for his protein needs (milk, chocolate milk, cheese, etc.). Once I cut these out of his diet, he had normal bowels for the first time in his life! He's healthier and happier, and that, combined with the absence of pain, is motivation for me to continue! So, I thought I'd put all my MSPI friendly recipes in one spot...not only as a reference for myself, but hopefully it will help someone who is scratching their head and saying, "Now what???"

I make as many things as MSPI friendly as possible so I don't have to make two different meals each time I cook. My husband has not been terribly excited about some of the dairy/soy-free foods, but I've gotten things to a point where he rarely realizes I've made something MSPI safe! I know if it passes the Husband's test, it should pass most people's test! Let me know what you think!