No dairy=Happy

Monday, September 26, 2011

No dairy=Happy

So, I’ve been trying to cut out dairy from the family’s diet, for a variety of reasons that I’ll mention briefly here and perhaps expand upon in a later rant. Some of these reasons are pseudo-science based, and pseudo-economics based, which I fully acknowledge before you question my conspiracy-theorist-sounding use of the nefarious “they.” Dairy is bad because:
-Hormones. They (see? “They”!) pump the cows full of hormones so that they will lactate  and the hormones go into our milk. I didn’t think about it much until I was a nursing mother, and saw firsthand how what I ate affected the milk I produced.
-The cattle/dairy industry is not humane. Read “Skinny Bitch” (or a host of other books) if you want to give yourself a complex.
-It causes inflammation. Here’s the pseudo-science part, not because it doesn’t make sense but because I am not good at articulating these kinds of things. Inflammation—where a localized part of your body swells, usually in response to injury or sickness—is bad when it’s chronic. So, if you eat dairy all the time, then you are always inflamed, and that is bad. For little kids it’s especially bad because their parts are small. When they stopped having dairy all the time, my kids stopped having ear and sinus infections (caused by sinus inflammation and trapped liquids in their inner ear tubes, etc.).
-Milk allergies. I saw an article (that of course I can’t find now) that milk allergy is the most common and most undiagnosed allergy for toddlers in the U.S. Milk allergy is different than lactose intolerance, which is also unpleasant.
-It makes me mucus-y. Maybe that’s part of the inflammation point above.
-Cheese poops. Powerful and wretched.
So, absolutely no milk, not even Lactaid (which tastes like milk blended with Tums). Sometimes yogurt, which I like to make myself from the organic milk from Costco. We also like to get froyo. But my biggest weakness is cheese. One of my college roommates ate a lot of good cheese and passed on the addiction to me—but nowadays, we get a block of Tillamook Medium Sharp Cheddar once a quarter or so. I also adore brie and gouda, and that goat cheese where they soak the rind in wine. I made myself drool on the keyboard. Damnit.
All of the above has been a longwinded introduction to what I really wanted to talk about: The Uncheese Cookbook by Joanne Stepaniak, and the only recipe from that book that I like, Parmezana Sprinkles (Note the “z.” It’s that kind of book. I was surprised that it wasn’t “Sprinklez.”).
This book seeks to create a non-dairy equivalent to any occasion you should have to need cheese, usually using some combination of beans, nutritional yeast, tofu, lemon juice, pimiento, nuts, oats, and salt. You also need a blender and a transcendent act of imagination. It is my opinion that anyone who thinks these recipes taste anything like cheese (I tried five recipes in this book, but have blocked out most of them) either is quite imaginative/delusional, or hasn’t had actual cheese in so long that they can’t accurately remember the taste.
Here I will note that negative reviews of this book on have received aggressive responses from Ms. Stepaniak. I appreciate how she is protective of her work, but “You’re a fat pig who’s going to die from a heart attack” (not a real quote, but approximate) is not an appropriate response to “I don’t like your book.” Just sayin’.
But this book led me to nutritional yeast. Yes, it’s a fungus. A dry, mustard-yellow powder (or flakes) that smell cheesy/nutty/yeasty. It’s supposed to be super nutritious, and is not to be confused with brewer’s yeast, or any of the other yeasts you may already know. In NZ, it’s called “savory yeast” or “savory yeast flakes” (for Claire, who may or may not read this blog but who definitely lives in NZ).
Here’s my version of the Parmezano Sprinklez (couldn’t resist). I put it on popcorn and spaghetti. What’s really awesome is that I find I like it better than cheese. How often does that happen?
-Handful of blanched almonds, dry, skin taken off
-1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast (you can add more later, but start with less)
-Pinch of Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning or chili pepper flakes
-Pinch of salt
-Pinch of brown sugar (not mandatory)
Blend. Sprinkle on stuff. Eat. That’s it.



  1. I find this makes me want dairy more. Cheese, specifically. I ditched dairy, wheat and sugar for about 3 weeks. It was great, but not really sustainable for my food-loving self. Sigh.
    I AM going to give the Sprinklez a try.

  2. My first comment, and it's not even from a relative! Thanks, Katie! To be fair, many cheeses do have nutritional benefits (in addition to tasting awesome). Give and take. But plain milk kind of makes me gag now.

  3. I just made a batch and ate it all! If I didn't know better, I'd really think it was grated parmesan! Sprinkled it on popcorn -- it's just like the good ol' days in college when I sprinkled that green can of kraft parm on microwave popcorn, but wayyy better for me :)

  4. Kewl! Also really good in scrambled eggs...