I am half Mexican and growing up my mother would make me a dish called Atole de Arroz. It is a warm cereal like dish eaten for breakfast (but I love it so much I can eat it any time of the day, hot or cold). It is made of long grain white rice, evaporated milk, sugar and cinnamon sticks. If you’ve ever had Hortchata, the flavor is very similar.
As it gets cooler out Atole is something that I crave, its a comfort food for me. The other day I was craving it and I decided to attempt to make a Non-Dairy version.
My ingredients were (these are approximate measurements):
1C Brown Rose Rice
1-1/2C Unsweetened Coconut Milk
1/2 - 3/4C Sugar
3 Cinnamon Sticks
Combine the rice and water in a pot and simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes, then add the coconut milk, cinnamon sticks and sugar, put the lid back on and continue to simmer until the rice is tender (about 30-45 minutes). It should have a creamy or milky consistency. It is delicious and this version tastes almost identical to my mom’s version.
Today I was reading the Food section in my local newspaper and there was an article about roasted turnips. The article inspired me to roast the veges I had sitting in my fridge, cauliflower, half an onion, and carrots.
I started off by warming my oven to 425 degrees. Next, I made a spice mixture made up of about a 1/2 tsp of each of the following:
a pinch of cinnamon
a dash of red pepper powder
a dash of kosher salt
I cut up the cauliflower and carrots into large bite size pieces and chopped the onion into three wedges. In a large mixing bowl I whisked together the spice mix with about a 1/4C of olive oil then added the veges and tossed, coating every piece. I put all the ingredients into a 13x9 baking pan and roasted for about twenty minutes then tossed the veges again and continued roasting for another 15-20 minutes.
I served the roasted veges over steamed brown rice. This was extremely filling and oh so delicious! I’m pretty confident the leftovers will make a yummy soup, for another post maybe…
I started my Dairy-Free two week trial on Tuesday of last week. I must admit that I was not prepared to go Dairy-Free; I hadn’t gone grocery shopping and the products that I did have at home all contained some form of dairy in them.
On a typical day I eat breakfast at work, which is usually cereal with 2% milk and a cup of coffee with way too much creamer and sugar. Lunch is usually a sandwich or bean and cheese burrito and yogurt. After lunch I usually make a stop at the candy bowl for some mini-size Twix or Milky Ways.
Tuesday, I woke up feeling bloated and extremely tired, which I blame on my late lunch of McDonald’s Big Mac and French Fries the day before and not falling asleep until 3:30 a.m. I went into work thinking that I could just ‘wing-it’. Since I couldn’t have my normal cereal I stopped off for some Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal sans the milk (oatmeal, brown sugar, dried fruit, nuts), it’s pretty delicious if you’ve never tried it and it fills you up. I skipped my coffee since I didn’t have a dairy creamer alternative, I opted for tea. When I walked into the kitchen for my tea, sitting on the table were two Monkey Breads (GRRR…) If you’ve never had this, its basically a bunch of dough balls covered in cinnamon, butter and sugar and then put into a bundt pan and baked, it tastes like a buttery cinnamon roll - I looked but I didn’t touch!
Lunch time I panicked!
I knew I couldn’t go home for lunch and couldn’t stop off and get my favorite bean and cheese burrito. It was then that I remembered the local health food restaurant down the street from my work. I phoned in my order for Curry Chicken Salad (made with Veganaise) on a bed of greens served with brown rice and vegan tahini dressing; I also grabbed a vegan snickerdoodle while I was there. It was all delicious and quite filling, in fact I was only able to eat about half of the serving they gave me. I went back to the kitchen after lunch, now sitting on the table was a 3 layer chocolate cake with chocolate ganache frosting and chocolate shavings - seriously they are trying to break me at work! I was good and stayed away, tempting as it was.
To avoid another panic, I decided I better go grocery shopping after work. I went to my local Whole Foods and stocked up on Dairy-Free and Vegan products. I probably spent over an hour in there reading all the ingredients carefully and even pulling out my Black Berry at times to Google an ingredient’s origin, why not. I got home pretty late and had a frozen Amy’s Black Bean Tamale Verde for dinner, it was pretty good and I felt satisfied after that meal.
The rest of the week was a little easier. I had purchased some great alternatives to the products I use on a daily basis; my Coffee Mate has been replaced with So Delicious Dairy Free Coconut Milk Creamer, butter with Earth Balance, and cheese with Daiya Vegan Cheese Shreds, these products have helped me a great deal. I have been eating a lot more whole grains, fruit and vegetables than I normally do and even my water intake has increased.
I have noticed a slight change in my sinuses; I haven’t had one sinus headache since I started this trial and I feel like I can fully breathe through my nose, which I have struggled with for years. One thing I was not expecting from this was my sleep to alter. I feel like I have been getting a really deep sleep each night and having vivid dreams. I haven’t noticed a change in my complexion but I am pre-menstrual and that usually affects my skin.
So all in all, the first week was a bit of a roller coaster, some days were easier than others but as long as I had some kind of a plan I made it through the day without giving into temptations.
For the last several years I have been suffering from severe sore throats, sinus problems, ear infections and so on… I, and my doctors, usually blame seasonal/pollen like allergies for my sinus problems. I have taken a number of prescriptions drugs, over-the-counter nasal sprays and pseudoephedrines to try and alleviate my symptoms. I don’t like taking meds unless absolutely necessary and am tired of being a walking pharmacy.
This last weekend (Labor Day weekend) my sinus issues flared up and put a total damper on my three-day weekend. I missed a fun party because of a sinus headache, I was furious! As I was on the phone lamenting to my sister about yet another sinus headache, she brought up a mutual friend, Matt. Apparently Matt, who like me had been suffering from a never ending cycle of sinusitis, quit having sinus problems after going on a dairy-free diet, it piqued my interest. I have NEVER had one of my doctors mention dairy as a possible cause to my sinus issues nor have they suggested I be tested, which is surprising after the research I’ve done.
In my research I found that a Dairy Allergy can cause, skin problems (such as eczema, cystic acne, hives, etc.), Migraines, diarrhea, constipation, sinus problems, fatigue, cramps, indigestion, and a number of other problems. The problem with a Dairy Allergy is that you don’t necessarily have a reaction upon consumption, it can take several days and there are varying degrees of the reaction your body will have to dairy.
I have always suspected that I may have a dairy issue. I typically buy 2% Milk and I don’t drink it on its own unless I’m eating a super sweet brownie or in cereal, this usually leaves me feeling bloated. I use Coffeemate creamer or half & half in my coffee, this sometimes upsets my stomach but I usually write it off and blame the coffee being the culprit, not the dairy. I love ice cream, milkshakes and whipped cream but they typically don’t love me back. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE cheese! I could probably live off of quesadillas or bean and cheese burritos with sour cream and salsa if they too didn’t leave me bloated. So after doing my research and looking back at what I typically eat on a regular basis I have come to the realization that I eat A LOT of dairy, dairy is probably in every meal that I eat!
I have decided to go Dairy-Free for two (2) weeks then slowly reintroduce it to my diet to see how my body reacts. I am anxious to see what my results will be. Will my sinus issues subside? Will my skin clear up and stop being itchy? Will I have more energy? And finally, will those dark circles under my eyes fade? I figure that at this point I have nothing to lose. I am not doing this under the supervision of a doctor but I am keeping a journal of everything that I consume. I do plan on getting in contact with my GP and/or an allergist if there are any significant changes in my body.
Each day, I plan on posting here, what I have eaten, how I’m feeling and my day to day struggles with this trial. Wish me luck.