During the winter, Enna had these poor chapped cheeks. I wasn't too concerned as it was winter and windy and cold. However the chapped cheeks never fully went away. It made me wonder if they were a result of a food intolerance or an allergy. I have read in a number of places that dairy consumption can trigger eczema, so I decided on a dairy elimination diet for Enna and I to see if there was any improvement.
I am not going to lie. It was hard and rather painful to be gluten-, corn-, soy- and dairy-free. We eat a lot of dairy. In the mornings, I have a smoothie with fruit, yogurt, and a dash of cream. Alongside the smoothie I have my baked oatmeal (made with milk and butter) that I serve with another splash of cream (because I am a cream junkie, obviously). Need a pick up between meals? I often grab a slice of cheese or two. So many of my recipes call for dairy (or are just so much better with dairy). Our steamed vegetables? Slathered in butter. Lunch consists of dinner leftovers, so lots of dairy.
The easiest transition was actually the baked goods. Those I could easily substitute coconut oil for butter and coconut or almond milk for cow's milk which is what I did for our morning oatmeal. I tried making diary-free smoothies using coconut or almond milk but, they weren't that good. I gave up after a day or two. For dinners, I spent a couple of nights searching through our recipes to come up with a master list of dairy-free options (of which there were not very many). Using this list, I planned our weekly meals.
The elimination diet lasted two weeks. After that, I introduced dairy for one day: smoothies, cream on oatmeal, and cheese. Then we avoided dairy for two more days to monitor for any reaction. My reaction? I feel so much better with dairy in my diet! (Surprising? Maybe.) I was really craving the fat. I felt more hungry and drawn to more sugary or carbohydrate-heavy foods because I wasn't filling up on fatty, delicious cream and cheese. I tried to replace the fat with other good fats such as coconut and olive oil, but it wasn't the same. As for Enna, her cheeks cleared up sometime in the second week. However, when we introduced dairy again, there was no reaction. The cheeks remained clear. She greeted cheese like a long-lost lover, drained her smoothie with alacrity, and consumed unceasingly the vegetables drenched in butter; the very same vegetables she spurned when only adorned with olive oil. At the same time we eliminated dairy, we also eliminated strawberries and peanuts. We have yet to introduce those two foods back into her diet, so it is possible that one of those foods could be the culprit. Or, you know, it could just be dry skin. I might just need to be a bit more diligent about applying the lotion to her face.
In any case, on the off chance you need some dairy-free meals in your life, I am sharing the list that I compiled. Unfortunately for you vegetarians out there, it is rather meat-centric. This was not intentional. It instead means that all of my vegetarian options rely heavily on dairy. If you have any yummy gluten-, corn-, soy-, dairy-free vegetarian recipes (ha!), please share! I obviously need to round out my repertoire.
Italian burgers--obviously without the stuffed bits.
Braised chicken in tomatillo sauce
Halal cart style chicken and rice (sans sauce)
Faux pho (made without the 5-spice)
Sweet potato foil packet tacos (without the cheese. *sob!*--however the sweet potatoes do a good job in adding a creamy texture)
Beef Daube Provencal
Pot sticker filling sautéed with rice noodles
Chicken pot pie
French chicken in a pot
Stir fry with choice of meat (chicken/beef/pork)
Meatloaf (subbing the milk/yogurt for coconut milk and without glaze)
Beef chili (ground beef or stew)
Sesame brown rice salad with chicken
Orange herb chicken
Lemon chicken breasts
Thai crockpot chicken or beef curry
Ham fried rice
Sweet and sour chicken
Black beans and rice with avocados