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10 things I learned from Squid’s dairy allergy

There are some things that I’ve learned since my son’s diagnosis with food allergies (particularly dairy).  I have a feeling I’m going to need to continually add to this post.

1. Nobody Understands
Seriously.  I’ve noticed that even within our family, unless they are involved in Squid’s day-to-day life, they just don’t get it (with a few exceptions).  “What do you mean I cant bring my own food into your house?  Your kid will be fine, right?”   Sorry, not taking that chance.  If you don’t understand, at least be respectful of the allergy parent’s decisions.

2. Gluten-free Spam
I can not tell you how many people (outside of my social circle) have sent me suggestions for products or recipes that are gluten-free.  That’s all fine and dandy but it still contains DAIRY!  We don’t have a wheat issue so I’m not too concerned about wheat/gluten but thanks for thinking of us.

3. What do you eat?!
Every time Squid adds a new allergen to his ever growing list, people say “Oh that poor baby.  What do you eat?!”  Umm…. lots of things.  Sub out the dairy and there ya go, same as everyone else.  We were already avoiding egg and shellfish so it was no big deal to cut them out completely when he was officially diagnosed.  I don’t feel like he’s “that poor baby.” We learn to adapt for our child and it’s no big deal for us.  Just a new part of our life.

4. Cutting out dairy doesn’t mean cutting out “the good stuff”
I absolutely love that there is a substitution for most dairy items!  Milk, ice cream, butter, yogurt, whipped cream, cream cheese!  I know I’m missing some but YUM!  I also love that if there isn’t a substitute to be found, one can be created.  The only thing I feel like we actually gave up was cheese.  Still looking for a good sub because Daiya just doesn’t cut it for me and most of the others have casein protein.

5. Dairy is EVERYWHERE!
Do some manufacturers look at their product and say, “Hmm, what is this missing?  Oh, I know, DAIRY!”  Thank God for multiple brands!

6. Heightened awareness
I see food completely different now.  when any kid walks in with a food item in his hand, my allergy mom radar starts going off.  I feel like a crazy person but it is all for the safety of my little Squid.

7. Freaking people out is fun
I’m sorry but sometimes you just need some comic relief.  When I’m feeling a little crazy and people ask about Squid’s dairy allergy, I start naming off all the crazy random things I’ve found that contain dairy.  Toothpaste, chalk, balloons, deli meat, non-dairy creamer, tic-tacs, the list goes on and the look on their face is priceless.  Mama’s gotta laugh at life. 

8. Oh! I’m lactose intolerant too!
I know you’re trying to relate but no.  Just no. 

9. Ah, first time moms
When we go out to eat, I wipe down our entire table and all the chairs because Squid has a contact allergic to dairy.  I see the other people looking at my young family and probably thinking “look at that first time, overprotective mom, bet she wont do that with number 2, 3, etc.”  Actually, someone did say that to me once when they saw me pull his pacifier out of a ziplock bag.  You better believe if future children have food allergies, I’ll be protecting them too!  Doesn’t bother me one bit to keep him safe. 

10. I wouldn’t change a thing
We’re foodies so we thought Squid’s diagnosis of dairy allergy was the end of the world at first.  Then we realized it was just the end of the world as we knew it.  Once we learned how to sub, we realized that cutting out dairy opened up a whole new world of food!  Amazing food!  My baby is an appropriate weight, my husband lost 50 lbs and I’m wearing jeans I wore in high school (20 lbs less than my pre-pregnancy weight).  We feel healthier than we have in years and all by just cutting out dairy and not dining out.  The added fact that my child could die from a sip is extremely scary and I continually pray that he’ll grow out of it soon but I do not foresee us adding it back into our diet when he is able.

Squid’s Pasta Salad

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This is probably my favorite vegan meal of all.  Sometimes we have it as a side but most of the time we eat it as a meal itself.  It makes a really great lunch.  Just pull it out of the fridge and eat!

Ingredients:

1 lb Egg-free pasta (I like Skinner shells… BEWARE, this facility processes egg products)
1 Cucumber (diced into toddler sized pieces)
1 Bell pepper  (diced into toddler sized pieces)
2-3 Vine Ripened Tomatoes  (diced into toddler sized pieces)
Dairy-free Greek Vinaigrette Dressing (Read the labels!  Most have feta cheese in them. I’ve found safe versions at Central Market)  or make your own dressing Salt and pepper

Dressing:

I prefer to buy the dressing because it just tastes better to me but here’s a recipe in case you’re not close to a specialty store.  The original recipe makes a large quantity but I prefer the smaller version someone shared in the comments.  It make a perfect amount for this recipe.

3/4 cup Oil
1 cup Red wine vinegar
2 tsp Garlic powder
2 tsp Oregano
2 tsp Basil
1.5 tsp Pepper
1.5 tsp Salt
1.5 tsp Onion powder
1.5 tsp Dejon-style mustard (I’ve subbed dry mustard)

Directions: Cook pasta according to package directions. Dice bell pepper, cucumber, and tomatoes. I like to make them small enough for a toddler to safely eat so I don’t have to chop his up later.  When pasta is finished cooking, combine all ingredients and coat in Greek vinaigrette. Salt and pepper to taste. Chill in the refrigerator before serving (but I usually don’t, I rinse the pasta instead). Hope you enjoy this as much as my family does!

Adapted from: http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/salads/simple-greek-vinaigrette-pasta-salad/

Update: Sadly my favorite dish is off the menu because we discovered Squid has an intolerance to vinegar.