Thursday, June 28, 2012

Healthy skin - dairy free

Lila deals with eczema.  It is an ongoing process and like anything to do with health, skin and diet it is complex with experimental trials and mistakes.  We first started with eliminating all dairy products, including products that contain whey and casein (milk proteins).  I've written about it a bit before and since then, Lila and I have eliminated most gluten from our diet as well.  (Not completely gluten free, I did not replace my spices or other baking items right away.)  Although I don't crave wheat at all (like I craved cheese at first) it is a bit harder to replace because bread/crackers/tortillas/baked goods were so prevalent in our diet and often used for snacking items.

I thought it might be useful to share the products we use in replace of dairy.  I have changed the way we cook, so we really do not use dairy products very much any more, but they come in handy sometimes and we like to have a little option for milk on our oats and GF cereal.

I love So Delicious products and have used their coconut milk, coconut yogurt, coconut ice cream and Soy milk ice cream.  Although I do not drink this milk by the glass (it is sweet and thick like whole milk) it is delicious in (gluten-free) cereal, oatmeal coffee, and smoothies.  I started out with almond milk (arguably a healthier choice) only to discover that I have an allergic reaction to almonds.  So almond milk was not an option any more.  Someday I would like to try and make my own raw cashew milk, but for now, raw cashews are a popular snack!

I also use rice milk and hemp milk for baking, pancake making etc.  Rice milk is more affordable, however it does not contain very many calories or fat.  I continue to take a prenatal vitamin, sometimes an extra calcium pill while trying to get the extras from eating a lot of fruit, veggies, whole grains and meat.

Also, please note that I have not replaced Lila's milk source with Coconut milk.  Lila is still breastfeeding every couple of hours (sometimes more) so that is her main source of milk!  I feel much less anxious about her getting the appropriate amount of fat and nutrients because she gets a lot of that from me!

Pure butter is actually considered much easier to digest than milk but I decided to go all the way with the elimination and replace our butter source too.  Pure butter will probably be the first thing I re-introduce.  Because I don't bake very often anymore, and we don't eat toast or sandwiches often, I don't use very much of this product.  However, we love making (gluten-free) pancakes and the odd cake or cookie recipe so Earth Balance is what I use.  They make a butter stick which is fabulous for baking and we use the soy free spread (to try and limit our soy intake a bit).  The ingredients include soybean (in the stick) palm fruit oil, canola oil, olive oil  and others.  

Oh cheese... how I craved thee!  Cheese is known to be addictive (found lots of sites when I googled it!) and it was a difficult one to cut out of cooking... homemade pizza, casseroles, snacks etc.  It helps me to have a really large breakfast every day (I cook 2/3 cup dried oats, load it up with fruit most mornings, and I've started adding raw pumpkin seeds as well).  Filling up first thing helps curb the snack craving throughout the day.  However, sometimes a little sprinkle of Daiya cheese goes a long way!  Daiya cheese was created in Vancouver, and it has received lots of attention for it's product!  As far as non-dairy cheeses, it is the best that I have tried.  It does melt, although my suggestion is to use less than you would normal cheese.  I reach for their mozzarella cheese every time I feel like making homemade pizza and garlic fingers!  The first two ingredients are filtered water and tapioca and/or arrowroot flours. 

So that's my list of dairy alternatives!  I do not use sour cream or cream cheese anymore although sometimes I reminisce about Great Canadian Bagels with cream cheese...

Yes, the alternatives are more expensive.  Honestly, because I rarely use them (except for the Coconut milk) I may end up saving money.  Blocks of regular cheese are hardly cheap!  We have been dairy free since mid February 2012.  It made a difference in Lila's skin and continues to do so.  I had some dairy by mistake recently and her skin flared up, she was itching like crazy the next day.  Her skin healed quickly after that though, and I am often shocked and amazed by how well it works for us.  Charlotte and Tim still drink whole cow's milk and eat the odd bit of cheese.  Also, eating dairy free did not completely heal Lila's skin... it was only a partial part of the journey.  


  1. I was looking around for a dairy free ice cream yesterday. Where do you get your dairy free products? Does Aura carry them? I'm sorry to hear that you had an allergic reaction to almond milk. How do you find cooking with dairy free milk? Some of my recipes just don't seem to turn out the same when I used almond milk but since I've reduced (almost completely eliminated but not quite) dairy from my diet, my body is less tolerant, or I notice it more so I don't even cook with it anymore.

    1. Hi Jeannie! I get them mainly from Superstore (natural foods section). Daiya cheese can be found at Aura and at the co-op, usually by the tofu etc. Coconut milk can be found at Aura too, but it's a bit more expensive. I haven't baked with alternate milk very much, so I don't really know what to suggest... I tend to use rice milk when I do though. Do you mean baking? I use coconut milk in things like stir-fries, soups etc. (Although I tend not to make chowders etc any more.) I definitely feel way better and healthier myself being dairy free, I should have written about that. Menstrual cramps have pretty much disappeared, my digestive system is much happier! (I used to be very painful cramps too.) What is your experience/benefits of dairy free?

  2. I'm so glad you've found something that works for you and Lila. It must be a relief to have found out how to help alleviate her eczema. I made popsicles last week with coconut milk, maple syrup, peaches and mango. They turned out great, and I had the leftovers as a smoothie. I'm thinking we'll be making more of these for snacks this summer.

  3. That's so interesting about the menstrual cramps, have you read this happening to others who have given it up? Thanks for sharing, you'll have to do a gluten one too, I'm really interested in what you bring for snacks and things for the girls when you're out!

  4. That sounds yummy Melinda! We make all our smoothies with coconut milk and freeze the leftovers for Popsicles!

    Kathryn, I haven't read about that anywhere else, I initially thought about the hormones in the milk but in Canada, hormone levels are extremely low, if non-existent. Melinda actually explained the testing of hormones in milk to me and they tested every time when picking up milk at her farm growing up. It was really strict I guess. (The United States is much different.) I plan to post of gluten free very soon!