Tag Archives: cow dairy

An Ode to Almond Milk

28 Oct

If you’ve been following my blog over the past year, you’ll know that I recently found out that I have an intolerance to cow dairy. What does this mean? It means that apparently my body doesn’t react particularly well to cow’s milk, yogurt, cheese…and the list goes on. I’ve managed to remove the majority of items containing cow dairy from my diet and I can certainly say that my general health has greatly improved. I don’t feel bloated all the time, I have more energy and my stomach is a LOT happier now!

In my quest to find great non-dairy beverages, I’ve found almond milk to be one of the tastiest alternatives to milk (from cows that is). The texture, colour and flavour is fairly close to cow’s milk and it tastes great hot or cold (heat up chocolate almond milk and you’ve got an awesome alternative to hot chocolate…mmm). Some people believe that only cow’s milk has the nutrients you need but in case you didn’t know, a cup of fortified almond milk contains 30% of the calcium needed in a day, along with Vitamins D, B12 and A. All this and my stomach won’t bother me anymore too…woot!

Since I’m the only one in the house who drinks almond milk, it’s difficult to finish a full carton before it gets spoiled, so I was thrilled to find out that I can now get almond milk in tetra packs (the little kid in me is excited too…who doesn’t love drinking boxes?!?!).  Earth’s Own now sells Almond On The Go tetra packs of original and chocolate almond milk and they come in a 3 x 250 mL pack.

Almond On The Go Tetra Packs

I now keep a few in the fridge at work as a snack for those afternoon cravings or late nights at the office. Clearly, my favourite of the two is chocolate but the original one is just as good as it has the hint of sweetness needed to kill a sugar craving when it strikes. As mentioned above, if I feel like having a “hot chocolate” I pour the chocolate tetra pack into a cup and microwave it or put heat it up on the stove. It smells amazing too….

The wonderful ladies at the Almond Fresh booth at the ShesConnected conference told me that in a few weeks, they’ll be coming out with a non-dairy holiday beverage, Almond Fresh Noel Nog (image below is from the Almond Fresh website). I can’t wait to try it out. P.S. Earth’s Own is a CANADIAN company, which is why they’re getting a shoutout on my blog : )

This image belongs to Earth's Own, the makers of Almond Fresh. http://www.almond-fresh.com/

On a side note, it’s almost time for the holiday season and if you’re looking for a non-alcoholic beverage to serve, I tried this one at the conference:

This image belongs to Earth's Own, the makers of Almond Fresh. http://www.almond-fresh.com/

Almond Fresh Apple-Tini

Recipe and image above are from the Almond Fresh website – http://www.almond-fresh.com/recipes/smoothies

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

2 oz apple juice

1 oz Almond Fresh Unsweetened

splash caramel syrup

dash fresh lemon juice

1.  Combine ingredients over ice in a martini shaker.

2.  Shake vigorously and serve in martini glass.

3.  Garnish with a cherry or apple slice.

Do you drink almond milk? What do you use it for?

Food Finds from the 2012 Vegetarian Food Festival

14 Oct

The Vegetarian Food Festival is an event I look forward to every year. It’s one of the best places to learn about vegetarianism and try tons of amazing products. Meat-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free…you name it, this show has it! This year, the festival took place from September 7th to 9th and once again it didn’t disappoint. I tried so many products and ate so much delicious food in my short visit to the show that I pretty much had to be rolled back to my car (seriously!).

For me, the most exciting part about going to food shows is learning about new products and having the opportunity to try products I’ve seen on shelves, but haven’t purchased yet. Here are some of my favourites from the show:

Soy Whip and Rice Whip from Soyatoo!

Whipped cream. Mmmmm. Without it, cakes, pies, ice cream sundaes and so many other desserts wouldn’t be the same. Since I found out about my intolerance to cow dairy (see my earlier series of posts about the YorkTest FoodScan program), I’ve cut back big time on cow dairy that I can easily avoid, such as whipped cream. At the show, I was thrilled to try Soy Whip and Rice Whip from Soyatoo!, who recognized that there was a need for dairy free whipped topping options that were (fairly) affordable (approx. $6.99 per canister).

After trying both, I have to say that my vote goes to the Soy Whip, as the flavour and texture was truer to real whipped cream. However for those who are allergic to soy AND dairy, the Rice Whip version is pretty good too.

For more info, visit their website at: http://www.soyatoo.de/us/?home

Earth Balance Original and Coconut Spreads

I’ve heard a lot of great things about Earth Balance products and I finally had the opportunity to try two of their products at the show, their Original Buttery Spread and their new Organic Coconut Spread. Their products are vegan and are free of gluten, lactose and eggs.

While I enjoyed both products, I liked the Original Buttery Spread a little more. It tasted just like butter and to know that it was vegan was amazing. The Organic Coconut Spread was also tasty, but it tasted like coconut oil which I’m not that used too. If you’re a big fan of coconut, you would certainly love this spread.

This company also sells a whole range of other vegan products, which I’ll have to try sometime soon.

For more info, visit their website at: http://www.earthbalancenatural.com/

New Moon Kitchen

I was attracted to this booth because of their cool packaging (I’m a print geek after all) and their glorious display of tons and tons of cookies in old fashioned jars. It also helped that a woman I met pointed frantically to their booth and said, “You HAVE TO go to the New Moon Kitchen booth, like right now! The cookies are divine!” and since I was pushed towards the booth, I knew I had to check it out!

This Toronto-based company bakes up eight different flavours of cookies, including ones with cute names like Bite Me, Momints and Love Bites. The best part is that they are all vegan, egg, dairy, peanut and nut free!

My faves were the Momints (Chocolate Mint) and Love Bites (Spicy Chocolate) but to be fair, I would eat them all again as  every flavour was delicious.

For more info, visit their website at: http://www.newmoonkitchen.com/

Peanut Butter & Co

I was attracted to this booth because of their beautiful packaging (yes, the print geek in me strikes again!). When I asked them what they were showcasing, they said, “Our spicy peanut butter called The Heat Is On”….huh? I asked to try a sample and I was rewarded with a tasty peanut butter with a very spicy kick to it! It would be perfect in an Asian noodle recipe or I could see myself adding a few spoons of it to my mom’s coconut chutney…mmmm. This company produces a range of products including peanut butters, jams, nuts, baking mixes and oats. They also have a sandwich shop in New York (one of my favourite cities in the world!) so I’ll have to add Peanut Butter & Co to my “go to” list for my next visit.

For more info, visit their website at: http://ilovepeanutbutter.com/

Field Roast Veggie Sausage Links

This was my favourite find at the food festival! As a vegetarian married to a meat-eater, I’m always looking for products that both of us can enjoy and I was so thrilled to learn about Field Roast’s new line of veggie sausage links. The veggie sausages come in three flavours: Italian, Mexican Chipotle and Smoked Apple Sage. My favourite was the Smoked Apple Sage, as it had the perfect combination of sweet, salty and spicy tones and the flavours just danced in my mouth.

For more info, visit their website at: http://www.fieldroast.com/ 


Coconut Bliss

This is another product that I’ve seen in grocery stores many times but never had the need or opportunity to buy it. After trying their products, I certainly regretted the fact that I hadn’t tried them earlier! Coconut Bliss vegan ice creams are made from coconut milk and are free of soy, dairy and gluten. I tried every flavour they had on hand and I honestly loved each and every one.  Once again, I’m amazed at how delicious non-dairy products can be!

For more info, visit their website at: http://coconutbliss.com/

Vegenaise

The last product I wanted to mention is another one that I’ve heard about a lot over the years, Vegenaise. It’s a mayonnaise-style product that’s perfect for those who are allergic to eggs as it is, you guessed it, egg-free! I was given a sample of it and it tasted just like mayonnaise, possibly even better. I heard that even Ellen DeGeneres loves it. If the adorable and fabulous Ellen loves it, then by all means, how could you go wrong?!?!

For more info, visit their website at: http://www.followyourheart.com/

I don’t believe they’ve announced the dates for the 2013 Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival yet but if you get a chance to go next year, you definitely should! If you try any of the products I’ve mentioned or if you have any others to recommend, I’d love to hear from you!

Learn more about the Vegetarian Food Festival here: http://festival.veg.ca/

 

YorkTest Program’s Food & DrinkScan, a Food Intolerance Test – Part 4 – My call with the Nutrition Advisor and the “No Cow Dairy” diet

13 Jul

 Note: This is Part 4 in my series of posts about YorkTest Program’s Food & DrinkScan, a Food Intolerance Test. You can find the earlier parts here:

Part 1 – http://bit.ly/M8QPne  Part 2 – http://bit.ly/L7okuY  Part 3 – http://bit.ly/N2T92g

A few days after I received my results, it was time for my first call with one of YorkTest Program’s Registered Naturopathic Doctors, Dr. Michelle O’Neill. She took me through my results chart and helped me to understand that I didn`t need to eliminate all of my main AVOID (RED) items immediately, specifically Cow Dairy, Yeast and Lentils, and advised that it would be best (and easiest) to start with the worst offender, cow dairy. Cow dairy was the top item on my AVOID (RED) list and therefore was the food that my body was fighting the hardest against. I was slightly surprised as I thought that by only including lactose-free milk, yogurt (the amount of lactose apparently reduces during the fermentation process) and hard cheeses (apparently also lower in lactose) that I had things under control. Clearly not!

Dr. O’Neill was so easy to talk to and asked what my current diet consisted of, so we could work together to pinpoint the key sources of cow dairy. From there, she walked me through potential substitutions for cow dairy and I was so happy to hear that I actually had options!

The plan – eliminate all sources of cow dairy for two full weeks and see if I felt any different. Dr. O’Neill was quick to point out that it would require a lot of willpower and planning ahead to make this work, as many of my daily food and beverage choices would be affected. She mentioned that in addition to the straight and obvious sources – milk, yogurt and cheese – I should look out for modified milk ingredients and related ones such as whey and casein when making choices.

She was quick to point out that although cow dairy was off limits, I could try goat, sheep or buffalo dairy instead. Almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, coconut milk and other non-dairy sources were also easily available now at my local grocery stores. I was not only happy to hear that I had options but I was also looking forward to exploring new foods and beverages.

I decided to start Week 1 properly the following Monday, as I not only wanted time to prepare but I felt that my best chance at making this work was to start with a full week ahead of me. I sat down to make a list of all of the items I consume regularly with cow dairy in them and I realized just how big that list was. I was regularly consuming milk, plain yogurt, fruit yogurt and having cheese. Just as I started to pat myself on the back for having such a short list, I realized that many of my beloved sweet snacks, specifically chocolate, usually contained cow dairy as well….yikes! As painful as it sounded I knew I had to do this for the sake of my health. I was sick of feeling tired and having an upset stomach pretty much all the time.

I knew the only way to make this happen was to plan my own meals and cook at home as much as I could for the next two weeks, so that I could control the ingredients. I also knew that I would have to think of every food and beverage choice to make sure that I wasn`t putting cow dairy into my system. This was going to be fun and scary…

I headed to the grocery store and probably spent a good hour and half going through the aisles (this is not unusual for me, I love browsing in grocery stores), reading packages and filling my cart with the items I needed and wanted. I picked up the following alternative products to try:

I also stocked up on fruits, vegetables, tortillas and English muffins. I spent a FORTUNE on groceries that day, as alternative products are often a lot pricier, however I didn’t mind as I was excited to have an excuse to try some new products.

I spent the first week eating the following items (not all at once of course):

Breakfast Options:

  • English muffins with almond butter and/or jam
  • Breakfast wraps with egg, goat cheese or Daiya cheese and veggies
  • Oatmeal made with almond milk and fruit
  • Coffee with almond or soy milk OR a Starbucks Soy Americano Misto OR a soy latte

Lunch/Dinner Options:

  • Rice with veggies and tofu
  • Quinoa with veggies
  • Pastas with veggies and Daiya cheese
  • Wraps with egg, goat cheese and roasted veggies
  • Vegetarian maki rolls (Japanese)
  • Indian curry dishes, all made without dairy
  • Homemade soups
  • Salads
  • Noodles

Desserts/Snacks:

  • Fruit
  • Veggies
  • Smoothies
  • Chocolate almond milk (heated)
  • Homemade frozen ice pops

While I enjoyed the challenge of Week 1, it was also exhausting. After eating whatever I wanted that was lacto-ovo vegetarian for so long, I had to stop and think about everything I was putting in my mouth. This sounds simple enough, but when you look forward to having a small coffee with one cream and one sugar every morning, taking it away is rough. I’ll admit, on more than one occasion, I poured cream and sugar into a cup and was just about to add coffee before I realized what I was doing and had to throw it out.

Dealing with the food situation was okay, partly because my husband was away on a business trip and I didn’t have to cook for both of us that week. I also didn’t have many social engagements to deal with, which was a blessing as I’m sure that I was getting a little testy with some people : ) Week 1 helped me to realize just how much food I used to put into my mouth without thinking about it. Being a vegetarian is pretty easy once you get used to it but taking away the dairy and eggs just made it harder. For someone who loves food, it was a great exercise in restraint for sure. I wasn’t sure if I was exhausted because of the amount of effort or from what I was eating, so I asked Dr. O’Neill for her thoughts on how I was feeling. She advised that it was common for participants of elimination diets to feel tired in the first few weeks of making changes to their diets, as the body works to adjust.

By Week 2, I definitely noticed a change in my system as I did feel less bloated and wasn’t experiencing as much discomfort in my stomach. It was quite amazing to feel these changes as I had lived with my symptoms for so long that they started to feel normal to me. My pants started to feel a bit looser and the heavy feeling that used to drag me down all the time was lifting. I wondered at first if it was psychological but my stomach symptoms had clearly subsided! It was truly surprising. Now what was I going to do?

Want to learn more about the YorkTest Program? Visit their website at http://www.yorktest.ca/ or follow them on Twitter and Facebook

Stay tuned for my next post in the series – YorkTest Program’s Food & DrinkScan, a Food Intolerance Test – Part 5 – Product Reviews and changes I’ve made

Disclosure: In exchange for writing this series of blog posts, I’ve received a free Food & DrinkScan and enrollment into the program. The opinions expressed are my own.

 

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