Guest Blogger: New adventure of being dairy free

Growing up five minutes away from the Wisconsin border, it’s safe to say, ‘I LOVE cheese’. Summer nights in a small town were spent picking up a cone at Dairy Queen. My mom’s #1 treat when she was pregnant with me was milk and cookies, so needless to say, milk and cookies flow through my veins.

So what do you do when you figure out you might have to be ‘Dairy Free?’ Talk about a lifestyle change.

Cheese. Pastries. Ice Cream. Smoothies. Yogurt. Coffee drinks. Chocolate.

No more.

A few months back I started noticing that every time I ate something with dairy in it, I would get awful intestinal pains to the point of being nauseous – especially if I ate something really creamy and rich. Even if I just had a little bit of dairy, the bloat was UNBELIEVABLE. Attractive, right? I’ve done the research, and apparently this is something that can come on as an adult. Yay adulting –
I was tired of being in pain and feeling like a cow, no pun intended, so I decided to be dairy free. And I basically went cold turkey.

So what have I had to change? Below are just a FEW things…

Coffee
No more creamer! Regular coffee creamer was not something I thought about it, but it was one of the worst culprits being so creamy and all. And say goodbye to all those fun Starbucks drinks. Really hoping in the fall I can make my PSL dairy free!! This basic can’t live without it.

Have no fear – you can still drink your coffee with a little extra flavor with coffee creamers made with coconut milk, almond milk , and soy milk. My favorite is probably So Delicious Coconut Milk Coffee Creamers. So Delicious makes a TON of delicious dairy free options for other treats too.

cocnut milkCheese
This has by far been the hardest thing for me. My husband used to call me a mouse because I would snack on cheese slices. Beer cheese and crackers was my favorite party appetizer. I ate cheeseburgers, not hamburgers. Mac n Cheese was my guilty pleasure.

I knew there was ‘faux’ cheese out there, but I’ve been nervous to try it. This Wisconsin lover can’t like fake cheese. It’s not right. That was until a few weeks into my cold turkey dairy free experience that I was CRAVING macaroni and cheese. I knew I had to find some dairy free options. I was nervous about the taste – but then I remember that in my college years, when I would be drinking till 3 AM, I’d head to Pick Me Up Café in Wrigleyville and order the Vegan Mac N’ Cheese. And from what I do remember, it tasted pretty darn good.

So I found Amy’s Dairy Free Mac N Cheese. Sure it’s a ‘frozen tv dinner’ but was eating from the Blue Box any better? No. So it’ll be my new guilty pleasure. Amy’s uses Daiya Vegan cheese. Daiya makes a TON of vegan cheese options like cheese slices, shredded cheese, Pizza, cheesecakes, cream cheeses, and yogurts. Basically a LOT. I just haven’t found them all yet to try! But that Amy’s Dairy Free Mac N Cheese is pretty darn good and does remind me of the college glory days – minus the hangover.

Amys mac

Chocolate & Pastries
Okay, maybe this is the hardest thing? Maybe it’s the hardest because it’s the thing you tend to forget. Oh ya, chocolate is made with milk. Oh ya, that pastry is really butter heavy (that’s right, no butter). Luckily, in Chicago, some bakeries do offer Vegan options. For instance I’ve already tried Vegan Donuts from Stan’s Donuts & Sprinkle’s Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes.

And thank God for Pinterest. The amount of recipes out there for dairy free desserts & chocolates is insane. Now I just have to find the time to make them. And when I’m craving just straight chocolate as every woman does, I’ve found that they do make candy bars that are dairy free. I’ve tried Chocolate Dreams Dark Chocolate Bar. Pretty good!

vegan

The thing I’ve found about desserts & pastries, is that you’re probably going to have to make your own as not that many places have dairy free/vegan options. Going to grandma’s house I can no longer eat the dessert that’s served. Time to start bringing my own Ben & Jerry’s Dairy Free Pints.

A lot of people ask if I’ve lost any weight doing this. No, I haven’t, but I sure feel a hell of a lot better! And I’m not doing this because I want to, I have to.  And even though I feel better, it’s definitely a burden. Going out to eat isn’t the same as I have to dissect the menu by each ingredient and ask the server questions. Most people don’t get it and think I’m just being picky. Um no, I’ve been forced to do this. Trust me, all I want to do is eat your buttery pastas. Your milky chocolates and your home made custard.

In the end, although I complain, I’m still finding ways to eat my little secret pleasures!

-Courtney (Ambassador)

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