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Category Archives: Soy-Free and Milk-Free Foods

Allergen-Free Pre-Made Foods: Ian’s Alphatots

I found a brand for us to pay attention to at Whole Foods Market (and elsewhere): Ian’s. Ian’s foods are clearly and boldly marked “Allergen Free” and “no wheat or gluten, no milk or casein, no eggs, no nuts, no soy”. You can imagine my excitement when I found a whole case of products with this claim. My iPhone was handy so I snapped a shot:

Ian’s products, found at Whole Foods Market

In the photo are chicken tenders, chicken patties, chicken nuggets, space nuggets, mac and no cheese, fish sticks, popcorn turkey corn dogs, alphatots, and chicken nuggets kids meals. I piled a stack of these into my cart (and then put a few back when I realized I wouldn’t have room in my freezer for all of them).

Tonight my son and I ate Alphatots, with chicken left over from last night, as well as steamed broccoli and carrots.

Ian’s Alphatots, fried in safflower oil and salt

The Alphatots were so easy to make. I’d never fried any potatoes before, so I was having my own little adventure in the kitchen. I fried them in safflower oil and salt for about 4 minutes. Then I dabbed them in some paper towels to remove the excess oil. They were moist and crispy at the same time. And they tasted soooo good.

My son’s plate

My 3-year old and I took turns stealing the letters off of each other’s plate. Seriously…we did! I was hoping he’d get full so I could eat whatever he didn’t eat. Meanwhile, he got a chance to show off that he knew his letters. Well…not quite…but it provided me with a valuable teaching moment at the dinner table. Win-win.

My plate

In case you’re wondering, the Alphatots contained the following ingredients: potatoes, modified palm oil, rice flour, salt, modified cellulose. I’m certain those ingredients are better than those in the fries at McDonald’s. Ha! This makes me happy.

In Wellness.

A Simple Chicken, Kale, and Orange Salad (Soy and Milk-Free)

I have been salad-deprived. Mainly because I haven’t been to the market in way-too-long and so I’ve been eating out a lot more than usual. Salad dressings in restaurants usually contain dairy and/or soy, and I am not one to eat a salad without dressing…so, I order other things.

I finally made time to go to Whole Foods Market. I was happy to discover that Whole Foods sells warm baked whole chicken dressed with allergen-free seasoning or no seasoning at all. Today I bought a whole chicken that was only seasoned with sea salt and pepper. I decided that I would use my own Rena-safe seasonings to spice up the chicken when I got home.

Actually, I cheated. I made this kale, chicken, and orange slices salad with some Trader Giatto’s Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing. It is my favorite and I call it my “crack” dressing since I can’t get enough of it, and it’s made with canola oil instead of soybean oil.

A simple salad…in a pretty bowl. What would have made this salad perfect is if I had crumbled up some graham cracker sticks (instead of croutons). They taste so good with the vinaigrette and kale! I would have added some this time but I had just eaten a small bagful of them on my way home from the market (I was starving), so I didn’t want the extra calories by adding more to the salad. Here’s the brand I use: Back to Nature Honey Graham Sticks, which are soy and milk-free.

Back to Nature Honey Graham Sticks

Back to Nature Honey Graham Sticks: soy and milk-free

Even without the graham sticks it was a delicious salad. I feel healthier already.

Living a Soy and Milk-Free Life: 4 Month Progress Report

I started this blog 3 months ago. It’s time for a progress report on my health and what I’ve learned. Here’s a “before” the discovery…and “after”.

The Before

4 months ago, I discovered I had an allergy to soy, one year prior to that, I discovered I had an allergy to milk. I am in my late thirties, and after seeing several doctors about this, I am able to confidently attribute my newfound allergies to enduring 4 years of intense chronic stress. When I ingest anything containing milk or soy (even the smallest amount), my skin will itch.

Throughout 2011, my skin felt like it was on fire. The only relief I could get came from an application of cortisone cream to my entire face and back.

I had already worked to eliminate milk from my diet that year, but I was still feeling intensely itchy. Once I discovered my allergy to soy, I made drastic changes in my diet and cosmetics, and I felt instant and major relief.

The Discovery

Products containing milk seemed to be far fewer than those containing soy. Soy is in everything. EVERYTHING. Well, almost everything. It was extremely frustrating to learn that all my favorite foods and restaurants are not good for me. So, label reading ensued. I threw away bags and bags of products in my pantry containing the pesky culprits. [Check out this fantastic summary about soy allergies (thank you to my newest reader, Dania), which includes a list of foods that contain soy: Living and Eating Well with Food Allergies - Soy Allergies]. I stopped eating fast food (except for a special order at In-N-Out). I discovered it was quite difficult to find any entree at any fast food joint that does not contain soy, and near impossible to find an entree without soy AND milk.

Then, I learned about my body’s reaction when soy touched my body. Hoping I was doing something healthy for my skin after scratching it raw, it seemed reasonable to apply pure vitamin E directly onto the problem areas to aid in the healing. After 4 days, my skin felt worse than before. “What is in this vitamin E anyway?” Pure soy. Yep. Vitamin E gels are derived from soy. Ohh! Then I discovered that my makeup, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, razor blade, skin care products, and sunblock each contained soy (look for the ingredient tocopherol, which is the vitamin E ingredient, and is most often derived from soy). Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies…and my skin was absorbing a great deal of soy every day. See my post, “My Lipstick Contains Soy!” and Other Soy-Laced Beauty Discoveries”.

So. No touching soy. No eating soy. No eating milk products. Got it.
I soon discovered other foods caused my skin to itch. Almonds. Grapes (and all forms of it including wine…boo…). Some candies — I suspect it’s the food coloring, like red 40? Eliminating those foods have helped keep my skin happier. There are a few more foods that give me mild reactions, but I am in denial about them and someday I will have to pull up my big girl panties and admit I should cut them out of my diet too. Hmph.
Oh. I should also say…my chronic stress is gone and what’s left is a day-to-day normal level of stress. How? I’ve done my best to:
(a) eliminate the sources of stress (Actually, this part was largely out of my control, but I did make decisions to bring balance into my work/home life, and to make choices to not overbook my calendar)
(b) enjoy the people in my life (my son, my dear friends, my new sweet boyfriend (!))
(c) spend more time doing the things that give me peace (playing the piano, singing worship songs, praying, painting, doing photography, etc.)
(d) exercise whenever possible, and
(e) sleep more than 6 hours/night

The After

Relief. Sweet relief. I haven’t used cortisone cream in a couple of months. Woo hoo! My skin has healed from the intense scratching. My reactions are milder when I have an accidental bite of the no-no foods (OK, perhaps they’re not all accidental), and the reactions don’t last for days anymore. I suspect this is because my body isn’t being overloaded by the allergens anymore. Perhaps my liver needed some time to clean out. Today I ate an iced animal cookie (I couldn’t help myself) with full knowledge that it contained soy and dairy and that I would have a reaction. My skin itched instantly, but the itching went away after 30 minutes. So I ate another one. (OK, please. Stop laughing. I’m PMS-ing so I can’t be held responsible for my lack of self control.)

I’ve noticed I’ve been able to tolerate small doses of milk products again — like using butter in the pan for cooking eggs. It’s a good thing, because my 3-year old will not eat his eggs if I use any butter substitutes, like safflower oil or sunflower oil.

And here’s something unexpected: I’ve struggled with thinning hair since I was in my early 20’s. My hairdresser noticed last month that my hair is thicker than it was in December. Hmm…
I lost a lot of weight initially because I was afraid to eat and I hadn’t discovered many options for me yet. Now that I have plenty of options for meals and snacks, I’ve gained some of the weight back (and I’ve been told I look healthier now). I feel comfortable in this size, despite the fact that my new size 4 jeans I just bought in March don’t fit any more.
Hey people, I’m reaping the rewards of a soy and milk-free life! Tell me about your progress! Let’s encourage each other!

The Blog

I must mention something I find super cool: I started this blog in February, 2012. Since then, I have received over 2,300 hits from people in 42 countries. I haven’t written in 3 weeks (sorry about that), yet the blog now gets between 40-60 hits per day due to various Google searches and Pinterest re-pins. Wow. Just wow. I’m so happy that others are benefiting from what I’ve learned. I look forward to continuing this journey and learning from each other.

In Wellness!

Chocolate Thin Mints

Chocolate Thin Mints

Can you tell I am on a chocolate kick? After reading lucysfriendlyfoods blog on “Chocolate Mint Thins” this week (@Lucylox is a Cordon Bleu trained chef who prolifically posts friendly recipes for us allergic folk), I felt brave and empowered to make something new. I was craving chocolate (this is ALL the time, by the way), the recipe appeared to be super-simple, and I just so happened to have all the ingredients on hand.

I’ve slightly altered Lucy’s recipe to include the American unit conversions and other new details. Thank you, Lucy!

Chocolate Thin Mints

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 15

  • 1/2 cup of dark chocolate, I used Enjoy Life Mini Chips (soy, milk, and nut free)
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

- Melt the chocolate in a microwave and stir well until smooth.

- Stir in the peppermint extract to taste.

- Drop spoonfuls on a baking sheet lined with foil. I swirl them flat with a spoon.

- Leave to set.

Chocolate Thin Mints

Superhero Chocolates

Superhero Chocolates

I’ve been GEEKing out on these chocolates.

I found a silicone Batman ice cube tray at a local comic book store a couple months ago.

At the time, I couldn’t see past what it was…an ice cube tray. I used it to make Batman apple juice cubes for my almost-three-year-old. I thought it was a brilliant idea because he asked me for the “Batman Cubes” over the host of sweets in my pantry.

Then…I read a blog just before Easter about how to make chocolate bunnies out of chocolate chips. It seemed easy enough but I didn’t have any candy molds in my house…but wait…yes I did…I could use the Batman ice cube tray as a chocolate mold!! It was such a hit with my boy (and unexpectedly, a few grown adult men – more on this later) that I needed to explore the possibility that there might be other superhero “ice cube trays” out there. It turns out, there are! I found the website Entertainment Earth, which carried my Batman mold, a Superman mold, and a host of Star Wars molds too (but R2-D2 was out of stock last week – boo!). While writing today’s blog, I discovered Amazon.com sells them too (search for “Kotobukiya Silicone Tray”).

Now for the chocolate. I found soy-free, dairy-free, and nut-free chocolate chips that are REALLY GOOD and no one I’ve offered these too have noticed what’s missing: EnjoyLife Mini Chocolate Chips. Ingredients: Evaporated Cane Juice, Chocolate Liquor, Non-Dairy Cocoa Butter.

I really like the flavor of this chocolate and would buy this over any other brand even if I wasn’t allergic to soy and dairy (something I rarely say nowadays). To fill one tray, I put about a half-cup of chocolate chips into the microwave for about 60-90 seconds until they look a little wet.

Then mix it with a spoon until the chips are creamy and well blended.

Drop the chocolate into each symbol with a spoon. I put a layer of chocolate inside to cover the symbol, put a layer of marshmallows inside, and then cover them with another layer of chocolate. I may crumble some pretzels in there next time.

Put them in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. If you are impatient like me, you’ll likely take them out too soon and end up with deformed superhero symbols. Fair warning.

Then peel them out of the molds. They are easy to take out because the trays bend nicely.

These chocolates have made me a SuperMom in my son’s eyes. What’s more, I’ve learned boys of all ages like Superhero chocolates. One friend asked me to freeze him a few chocolates for a visit we’ll have in a couple weeks. Another took me out to lunch. Maybe THIS should be my strategy for finding the man of my dreams: offer potential suitors Batman chocolates? Ha! And…”snort”.

In Wellness!

A Handy Collection of Fast Food Allergen Statements

Sunset at the Pier

3 1/2 months ago, had someone asked me if I consumed soy, I would have said, “No. Except when I occasionally eat Japanese food…edamame and/or sushi with soy sauce.” I didn’t eat tofu and I didn’t drink soy milk or use soy-based products.

Yet, in January of this year, I figured out I was allergic to soy (after already dealing with an allergy to milk products for a year). Momentarily, I wasn’t too worried about eliminating soy from my diet, because I thought I didn’t eat very much of it. However, since then I’ve rapidly discovered soy is in nearly everything I used to eat regularly. I threw away bags and bags of items containing soy from my pantry. I am a very busy gal – single mom with a full time job – so cooking my meals at home was not always a convenient option…So…I guess you would have called me a fast foodie, even though I did my best to order the healthiest options at various fast food restaurants. Little did I know, I was allergic to ingredients in every meal I ordered at every fast food restaurant I frequented.

It turns out it is quite difficult to avoid soy and milk while eating at most of these joints. Soy is a common ingredient in the sauces, marinades, salad dressings, seasonings, frying oil, and breads. Plus, the meats are marinated in sauces with soy, and they likely come from animals that are soy-fed. I JUST learned that super-allergic-to-soy people can get anaphylactic and need an epi-pen from ingesting meat and eggs from soy-fed animals (Thank you, SprinklesandAllergies). Of course, most of the entrees also contain contain milk ingredients, making it even harder for many of us to order.

You will see, most fast food restaurants will not have a soy- and milk-free option for those of us who need it. However, someone pouring over the ingredients list and allergy statements at each of these restaurants (see below) might be able to get creative with what they order. You could really test the idea of them “Making it your way”, but beware of cross contamination with the grill and frying oil. I’ve only found one place to easily order a presumably soy- and milk-free entree: In-N-Out (see my blog about this: Hooray for In-N-Out! Soy- and Milk-Free Options).

Anyway, after spending WAY too much time figuring out how/if I could eat fast food anymore, I have collected nutritional and allergy statements for the major fast food joints I frequented. I thought I’d post these statements in one easy-to-access place in case someone else is on the same journey as I am. It turns out, after all my research,  I’ve found I really can’t eat at fast food joints anymore (save In-N-Out) and so I do my best to cook at home, bring my lunch to work, and order carefully at non-fast-food restaurants.

I hope this list is helpful to someone out there! This list will continue to grow as time goes on and I collect more nutrition and allergy statements (in pdf form – feel free to download and print these). I’ve learned that not all fast food restaurants have allergy statements on their websites…that really must change. Don’t you think?

For more detailed tips about eating allergy-free while dining out, I recommend the site, AllergyEats – Your Online Guide to Allergy Friendly Restaurants.

In Wellness!

Nutrition and Allergy Statements for Major Fast Food Restaurants

Arby’s Nutrition and Allergen Info – Also see my blog about Arby’s: Can’t Avoid Soy and Milk at Arby’s

Burger King Product List for those with Gluten Sensitivities

Burger King Menu and Ingredients List 

Carl’s Junior Menu. As of 4-29-12, Carl’s Junior has not posted a allergy statement, however, they do post “Alternative Options” which includes a gluten-free burger.

Green Burrito Allergen Info

In-N-Out Food Quality Statement – Also see my blog about In-N-Out: Hooray for In-N-Out! Soy- and Milk-Free Options

Jack In The Box Ingredients List – Also see my blog about Jack in the Box: “Welcome to Jack in the Box. May I take your order?”

McDonalds Ingredients List – Also see my blog about McDonald’s: McDonald’s Soyland

Popeye’s Nutrition and Allergens List

Taco Bell Allergens List

Wendy’s Allergens List


Vanilla Sugar Cookies Made With Unexpected Substitutions

Cookies With Sprinkles

Sugar Cookies With Sprinkles

These cookies gave me a huge lesson in baking substitutions. They are really good. I think they shouldn’t taste this good, given all my substitutions, but I was pleasantly surprised.

First of all, I only need my food to be soy and milk-free. But this recipe also happens to be vegan as well as egg-free, nut-free, and gluten-free too. I used the recipe on the back of the Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour bag to make them. I’ve included the recipe at the end of this post, for those interested.

This recipe called for interesting ingredients. I have never baked with ingredients such as coconut flour, brown rice flour, and potato starch.

Bob's Red Mill Potato Starch, Coconut Flour, and Brown Rice Flour

Bob's Red Mill Potato Starch, Coconut Flour, and Brown Rice Flour

Instead of butter, I used Spectrum Butter Flavor Shortening (Palm Oil).

Spectrum Butter Flavor Shortening (Palm Oil)

Spectrum Butter Flavor Shortening (Palm Oil)

My son and I used the electric beater on the sugar and palm oil shortening.

Fun With the Electric Mixer

Fun With the Electric Mixer

It didn’t produce a creamy mixture that butter would have.

I used Vanilla Coconut Milk instead of the Soy Milk ingredient. Coconut milk is something my toddler and I only discovered this week, and it is has been a huge hit. My son likes it in his cereal. I like it with my protein drinks.

So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk

So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk

I found some sprinkles that looked interesting (gluten-free Sprinkelz). The sprinkles are not as colorful in actuality as they are on the picture of the box (see the first cookie picture at the top of this post).

Sprinkelz

Sprinkelz

By the way, I added Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips (dairy, nut, & soy free!) to the top of some of the cookies when they came out of the oven. Of course, my son just picked them off instead of eating the cookie.

We Added Mini Chocolate Chips to The Top of Some of the Warming Cookies

We Added Mini Chocolate Chips to The Top of Some of the Warming Cookies

Enjoy Life Mini Chips - Dairy, Nut, & Soy Free

Enjoy Life Mini Chips - Dairy, Nut, & Soy Free

We also experimented with adding strawberry jelly on some of the cookies. Again, he couldn’t help himself. I let him dip his finger into the cookie…that was HIS cookie now.

All-in-all, I like the substitutions. My only complaint is the palm oil leaves a slight aftertaste — I didn’t notice it with yesterday’s batch but I especially noticed it when eating the cookies with the jelly on it. I might try using coconut spread next time.
So, what’s my conclusion about all these substitutions? I’m going to keep making them in other recipes. It’s my fun new journey in the kitchen!

Vanilla Sugar Cookies

1 cup Sugar

1/2 cup Butter (I used Palm Oil Shortening instead)

1/3 cup Soymilk (I used Coconut Milk instead)

2 tsp. Vanilla

3/4 cup White Rice Flour (I used Brown Rice Flour)

1/3 cup Coconut Flour

2 Tbsp. Potato Starch

1/2 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream together shortening and sugar with an electric mixer and beat two minutes. Add vanilla and milk (coconut milk) and beat for an additional minute. In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add dry mix to wet ingredients and briefly mix, then add the almonds. Continue mixing until just blended. The batter should have a moist and fluffy consistency. Place by rounded tablespoon on greased cookie sheet (actually, I didn’t need to grease the sheet when using the palm oil shortening) and bake 10-12 minutes (I needed close to 13 minutes). Makes 24 cookies.

A Yummy Breakfast Sandwich (Soy and Milk-Free, Of Course)

Today I decided I would slow down and take care of myself. I’ve been sick all week so I canceled my fun weekend plans to recuperate. My son is with his dad this weekend which meant I could make whatever I wanted for breakfast without accommodating his picky pleas (it also meant I could sleep in an extra hour – ahhh).

So last night, I went to bed a little giddy that I would make myself this sandwich for breakfast.

My Simple Egg Sandwich

My Simple Egg Sandwich

I’m not really a make-it-from scratch kind of girl. I don’t have time to follow elaborate recipes (nor do I feel like following one in my current state). So, when I find an easy-to-make soy and milk-free tasty meal, I am a very happy girl.

The sandwich is super simple. And the real star ingredient is a rare find from Whole Foods Market — it’s a soy and milk-free mayonnaise, made with canola oil by Spectrum (“Canola Mayonnaise”).

Spectrum Canola Mayonnaise

Spectrum Canola Mayonnaise

The other star is the soy and milk-free pita from Trader Joe’s. [I plug a lot of products from Trader Joe's and Whole Foods in my blog -  Ahem, where is my endorsement check??]

Whole Wheat Pita Bread from Trader Joe's

Whole Wheat Pita Bread from Trader Joe's

Really, that’s all you need to know and the blog is finished. But, my morning plans also included nourishing my artistic self so I decided to take pictures while making my breakfast.

1) Toast the bread.

Toasted Pita Bread

Toasted Pita Bread

2) Fry the egg. I coat the pan with 1 tbsp of safflower oil or sunflower oil. I like it over-medium so the yoke is just a touch runny. But, scrambled eggs are awesome too.

Frying eggs...these will eventually be over-medium.

Frying Eggs...On Their Way to Over-Medium.

3) Spread your soy and milk-free mayonnaise inside the pita (tear out an opening in the pita).

Spread your mayo

Spread Your Mayo

4) Lightly salt the eggs and slip them inside the pita. That’s it!

My Happy Sandwich

My Happy Sandwich

Super simple, right? Maybe next time I’ll toast the bread with a slice of ham inside or toss in a sausage patty for extra protein.

By the way, also part of taking care of myself – I picked 3 oranges from my tree in the back yard and juiced up some fresh O.J. Delicious.

Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

My Juice Maker Hard at Work

Orange Juice

I feel better already.

In Wellness!

Must. Satisfy. Sweet. Tooth. Coconut “Ice Cream”

The pictures tell the story this time. Yum.

Our first bowl of Coconut Milk "Ice Cream"

Our first bowl of coconut milk "ice cream" - Chocolate

"This is GOOD!"

"This is GOOD!" he says after eating his first bite. And his second. And his third...

"So Delicious" Coconut Milk No-Dairy Frozen Desert

"So Delicious" Coconut Milk Frozen Desert. Soy Free and Dairy Free! Pictured is Chocolate and Mint Chip flavors.

Blogs and Websites I Love

I just created a new page: Blogs and Websites I Love.

I will be storing all my favorite links to blogs and websites about allergies, living soy-free, living dairy-free, and other relevant topics at this new page. Visit the “Blogs and Websites I Love” tab regularly to check out the new resources.

In Wellness!

 

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