Where’d the Cheese Go?

Anyone who knows me knows that I love foods like milk, cheese, and chocolate.  Unfortunately, it came to my attention a couple years ago that I could no longer consume dairy products of any kind.  I’ve always had some sort of unexplained health issues and have tried a few things over the years – cutting out gluten (yeah, yeah), beer, peanuts, etc.  I went so far as getting tested for celiac and a few other food allergies, but I had no luck finding the guilty party.  A couple years ago I tried lactose-free products and lactose-inhibiting pills (e.g. Lactaid).  I know they work for some people, but not me.  My theory is that it isn’t lactose that’s the culprit, but casein – an ingredient in all milk products.

As a result of these discoveries, I’ve been avoiding cow’s milk for some time now.  Despite being an inconvenience, the good news is that I feel a lot better!  So what does a milk-aholic eat and drink when they can’t have milk products?  I was using soy milk for cereal, chai, and other dishes and drinks, but I’ve switched to unsweetened almond milk.  Trader Joe’s and Ben & Jerry’s have some excellent ice cream products, as does Tofutti, who also make a decent faux-cream cheese.  Daiya make a cheese substitute that’s great for pizza and tacos/nachos.  Are they as good as the real stuff?  Absolutely not!  They’ll do in a pinch though.

At restaurants, I try to figure out options before I order and not announce the allergy.  I do get some curious looks when I request a pizza with bacon and chicken and vegan cheese.

In a lot of cases there are food where that contain dairy that you never would have thought of.  Most fried chicken has buttermilk, a lot breads have it for no reason, and lunch meat uses it for filler, especially turkey and sausage.

Although it’s been an adjustment, it’s been worth feeling better on a day-to-day basis.

My dinner with Albuquerque

twistersI’m going to let you in on a little secret.  I blogged about restaurants in New Mexico, despite not having been there when I started.  Phew, that feels like a weight off my shoulders.

I was asked by my employer several years ago to write about the food New Mexico food scene either based on neighborhood, type of cuisine, or other linking factors.  Luckily I’d already had some knowledge of Southwestern Cuisine, though New Mexico has some of it’s own distinct variations.  Red and green chile is almost an obsession in the region and can be found in many restaurants.  It’s essentially a stew that can be used as a sauce on everything from eggs to pizza.  I’d had a version before on a trip to Colorado, though New Mexicans will tell you it’s not the same.

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