Easy dairy-free vegetable casserole (can be gluten-free too)

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I made this really quick casserole the other day that turned out well, and gave me enough meals for several days which is a plus when you’re chasing after a crawling baby all day and don’t have time to cook! Now that Jack is crawling (quickly) he gets into everything, so it’s harder for me to make my usual healthy foods. This meal can use some frozen veggies if you have them on hand, and the leftovers taste great.

Directions:

I layered sliced small potatoes, carrots, peas, spinach, and olives in a baking dish.

Make a bechamel sauce either whatever way you want, or by using

3 tablespoons of vegan butter

5 tablespoons of whole wheat flour (or rice flour for gluten free)

1.5 cups milk (I use almond milk)

salt, pepper, and spices (I used basil, garlic, and oregano) to taste

-melt the butter, then slowly add the flour and then milk until you get a thick sauce

(honestly if you are really in a hurry I’ve made this by just microwaving the milk for 30 seconds and adding the flour and some olive oil and it’s not as great but it’s ok)

Pour the sauce over your veggies

Sprinkle with vegan cheese if you want, pine nuts, or whatever topping you have at home

Bake for a long time until the root veggies are soft- about an hour at 350

 

 

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vegan pesto quesadilla recipe

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I’ve been crazing mexican food lately, but it’s not as fun without real cheese. I finally got some Trader Joe’s brand of Daiya cheese last week, so I decided to make quesadillas because it doesn’t matter if the cheese doesn’t taste amazing in them, it’s more for the melty texture. I put some vegan pesto, cut up olives, and cheese on whole wheat tortillas and they were really good and very creamy!

I made vegan pesto by putting in the food processor:

A large bunch of basil (maybe 2 cups of leaves)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup pine nuts (or you can use walnuts)

garlic to taste

I really don’t mind not having the cheese in the pesto and don’t notice it

I took the easy way out and cooked them in the toaster oven for a few minutes until they got lightly browned

easy dairy-free frittata recipe

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I’m still not eating dairy because of Jack’s allergies, so I tried making a dairy-free frittata this weekend for brunch which turned out really well! I added Daiya cheese, but I think it would still be good without it. My husband who often doesn’t like my weird and healthy cooking actually approved of this one!

Directions:

Saute a large pan full of veggies- I used mushroom, bell peppers, asparagus, basil, and garlic. I also added some cut up lox which was great! You can skip the sauteing if you want to make the process faster, but it makes it taste better.

Mix 8 eggs with a cup or so of unflavored almond milk, salt, pepper, and whatever spices you like

Pour the eggs over the veggies, and sprinkle with some vegan cheese if you want, and bake at 350 for about an hour, then broil for a few minutes until the top gets a little brown and is no longer jiggly at all

This reheats well later for an easy lunch the next day!

I also made these pumpkin muffins with whole wheat flour and brown sugar and some chocolate chips, and they turned out great!

Favorite dairy-free recipes

I’ve been dairy- free for about 6 months now because of Jack’s allergies and have found some really good recipes! I especially miss being able to buy prepared desserts at many places (like Trader Joe’s desserts almost all have dairy), so I’ve been cooking desserts at home. Plus breastfeeding burns a lot of calories, so eating dessert is ok!

Cashew mousse

I made an amazing cashew mousse pie using this recipe for the mousse and making pie crust by blending 1.25 cup dates, 1 cup hazelnuts, and a tablespoon of cocoa powder in the food processor and then pressing it into a dish and topping with the mousse.

 

vegan cheese sauce

I also tried an easier nutritional yeast cheese sauce recipe which turned out well. I usually make a vegan cheese sauce that’s raw and uses cashews in the food processor to thicken it and is really amazing, but I was too lazy to clean the food processor after cooking, so I tried this stovetop one and it was great, but a little lighter. I put it over pasta with frozen spinach and peas and it was a fairly quick and healthy dinner.

 

I’ve also been making these super fast peanut butter cookies:

1 egg

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup sugar

You just mix it up and make into flattened balls and cook for about 15 minutes at 350. They definitely have a lot of sugar, but I tell myself at least peanut butter has protein and healthy fat….

Allergy update

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Jack had his 6 month visit to the pediatrician today (a month behind schedule because the doctor was on vacation). He weighs 19 pounds now and is right around 50% for everything. I told the doctor about his getting a rash on his face after eating tomatoes, so now neither of us are supposed to eat tomato or citrus fruits until he’s a year old.

Apparently tomato allergies aren’t that uncommon, and may be due to the fact that they were not historically part of many people’s diets until somewhat later than other foods when they were brought over from the Americas to Europe in the 1500s.  I told the doctor that Jack has been waking up every 2-3 hours at night which he said can be allergy related, so he advised for me to continue avoiding dairy, but also try cutting out soy again as well as the citrus fruits and tomato. Of course that happens right after I went to the farmer’s market and bought tomatoes yesterday! It’s a shame too because Jack found tomatoes easy to eat because they are so watery.

Some new foods I have been meaning to have Jack try are:

  • Watermelon (has as much iron as spinach! but probably easier for a baby to eat)
  • Oatmeal- probably a baked oatmeal “muffin” so Jack can hold it himself
  • Maybe egg yolk which is supposed to be high in a lot of vitamins. I just have to figure out how to serve it. “Loaded spoons” with food haven’t worked well so far since Jack just grabs them and flips them upside-down or something and doesn’t end up eating it.

I’m a little sad to have to go back to basically cooking/baking everything from scratch because most processed things have soy in them. The new diet means no mayo, ketchup, any desserts from trader joe’s, or most frozen foods I eat. Some desserts I can still easily make are:

  • Pancakes with whole wheat flour (made with almond milk)
  • Brownies in a mug if I feel really lazy!
  • Easy peanut butter cookies
  • Brownies (but not with chocolate chips because they all seem to have soy)

Using coconut oil

I’m so thankful for my baby for a lot of reasons, and one of them is that having him introduced me to a bunch of healthy things. I never bought a jar of coconut oil before I had Jack, but I decided to because I wanted to find the most natural diaper cream to use on him, and using something that you can eat seemed like a safe bet!

I found organic coconut oil for pretty cheap at Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods is pretty cheap too. I store it at room temperature because it gets pretty rock-solid in the fridge.

Here is what I do with it:

  • Slather it on baby’s diaper area to prevent rashes (we haven’t had any diaper rash in 6 months so far!) I keep it in a little glass jar by the changing area
  • Put it all over baby’s skin after bath time as a moisturizer (it even has some ability to act as sunscreen)
  • Use it as moisturizer for my skin, although I have to be careful to only use a little or it looks oily. It’s supposed to help prevent wrinkles due to the antioxidants
  • Use it on my hair instead of gel
  • Use it instead of butter or oil for baking. It works really well because it is a solid at cool temperatures, so it holds baked goods together well unlike other oils which stay liquid
  • Use it to make vegan chocolate sauce which also acts like magic shell in that it hardens when it touches ice cream or gets cold
  • For some reason I think it works really well to oil a baking sheet or a muffin pan

A random note: my dog usually wasn’t interested in eating the oil in a jar I had out by the diaper area, but one day I spilled a bunch and the dog ate it all! (He’s a super fast eater!). I called the vet who said it should be fine, and he will throw it up which luckily he did. So don’t feed a whole cup of this stuff to a pet…

Elimination diet

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Since Jack was a few months old I’ve been cutting things out of my diet because of possible allergies. For the last few weeks that’s included the 8 causes of 90% of infant allergies:

  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Peanuts
  • Tree Nuts

Also, for the last 2 weeks I’ve tried cutting out corn as well!

I’ve been eating a lot of rice and potatoes! As well as fruits and vegetables of course. It’s extra hard because I was already a vegetarian (who ate fish). To get omega-3s, I’ve been putting ground flax seeds in baked goods and eating seaweed mixed in with my leafy greens. I’ve also been eating Trader Joe’s calcium chews which are really good.

Some dishes I’ve been eating include:

  • Butternut squash soup (puree roasted squash, a few potatoes, vegetable broth, and garlic)
  • Tomato soup (Puree peeled tomatoes, coconut milk, spices, and broth)
  • Vegetables with rice
  • Vegetables with potatoes

Snacks:

  • Baked sweet potato fries
  • Frozen french fries with ketchup or mustard
  • Oatmeal
  • Oatmeal muffins
  • Oat pancakes
  • Coconut chips from Trader Joe’s
  • Potato chips (sometimes dipped in nutritional yeast)
  • Potato balls
  • Tapioca pudding
  • Coconut yogurt from whole foods
  • Olives
  • Guacamole and veggies
  • Fried rice cakes using “flax egg” to hold it together
  • Coconut milk ice cream from whole foods (really good!)
  • Dried fruit as a snack
  • Banana and frozen fruit smoothie in coconut milk
  • Chocolate/chocolate sauce

In general, here are replacements I’ve used:

  • Instead of butter for baking: coconut oil (coconut is a seed, not a tree nut)
  • Instead of flour: oats ground in the food processor
  • Baking chocolate or cacao nibs instead of chocolate
  • Sunbutter instead of peanut butter
  • Coconut milk instead of milk or cream (watch out for using too many American-grown rice products like rice milk due to arsenic)
  • A “flax egg” instead of eggs in baked goods (mix 1 tablespoon flax and 1 tablespoon water and let it sit a few min)
  • I’ve eaten the oatmeal muffins instead of granola bars or as a snack I can eat in the car