Lactose-Free Dairy, Uncategorized

5 Tips for being Lactose-Intolerant

Welcome! You found out you are part of the lactose-intolerant group of uncomfortable stomachs and avoiding dairy. Now what?

When I first found out I was lactose-free, I went completely dairy-free because I didn’t know there were options for lactose-free products and lactase capsules. Now that I have adventured in lactose-free land for a couple years, I have a couple tips and tricks to keep you enjoying food AND having a happy stomach.

First, gauge how lactose-intolerant you are. Everyone has a different body, which means you can handle different levels than other people. I have to be super careful to not have dairy without a lactase pill… or I pay for it in the end.

Second, dairy-free options might be the best option for you. I know that I feel better when I eat less dairy, even if it is lactose-free. There are so many awesome companies that make tasty dairy-free products. Of course, it won’t be what you are used to, but now is a good time as any to broaden your horizons!

Third, Read labels, read labels, read labels. I cannot stress this enough! There are so many products that are lactose-free that don’t advertise it! Do I know why? Nope! But I am in the process of making a mega list of products that are sneakily lactose-free so keep your eyes peeled!

Fourth, ghee is a great substitute for butter when cooking. You get the same great flavor without the lactose. Ghee seems to be more accessible than lactose-free butter in stores, so it’s a great option. (Butter is super easy to make, and I have the recipe to make your own lactose-free butter here.)

Fifth, don’t be afraid to ask people what they put in food. In my opinion, it is better to be safe rather than sorry! Luckily, my family and friends all know, so when I ask if they added dairy, they know I am not being picky. More often than not, people are willing to accommodate you. If lactase works for you, that is another great option for big gatherings. Just remember- your stomach is important, and you need to take care of yourself!

I hope these 5 tips help you on your adventures in navigating food sensitivities. Let me know in the comments if you learned something new or have something to add!

Dinner

Better-than-Takeout Potstickers

Gyoza is one of my husband’s favorite meals of all time- and I feel much better about feeding my husband gyoza instead of freezer pizza on busy nights. (We call potstickers by their Japanese name- Gyoza.) My mother-in-law so kindly shared this recipe with me. She lived in Japan for a year and a half and brought home some wonderful recipes! During the past three years of marriage, I have slowly tweaked the recipe (Such as amounts of garlic or soy sauce) to make the gyoza exactly how we want.

Something I figured out pretty early on is that gyoza is actually an easy freezer meal! While it is time consuming to fold all of the gyoza, after that, it’s super simple to pop some of the frozen gyoza into a pan and put some rice in the rice cooker and voila! A quick and delicious dinner in under an hour for busy weeknights!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of green onions, chopped finely
  • 1 cup cabbage, chopped finely
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef or pork
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of quality soy sauce (I like using 1/3)
  • 1-2 packages of gyoza wrappers
  • A small bowl of water for sealing the gyoza
  • A pan with a lid- I prefer to use a cast iron pan

Directions:

  • Mix everything together in a bowl.
  • Scoop about 1/2 a teaspoon of the mixture into a gyoza wrap.
  • Dip your finger into the water and brush it along half of the gyoza wrap’s edge.
  • Press to seal.
  • Crimp the edges.
  • At this point you can either put them on a baking tray to flash freeze them before placing into a container or you can cook them.
  • To cook, place 1-2 Tablespoons of oil into a heated pan and pan fry the gyoza for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add 1/4 cup of water to the pan and put the lid on.
  • Steam the gyoza until the water is gone.Serve with hot rice and steamed carrots or broccoli.

Side Notes:

  • Gyoza wrappers and wonton wrappers are not the same thing! Wonton wrapper fry up nicely, but don’t steam very well.
  • If the water is gone and you aren’t sure if the gyoza are done, cut open one of them to see if they are still pink.
  • For the frozen gyoza, you cook it the same way as the fresh gyoza. They take a little bit longer, but you don’t need to add extra water.
  • You can serve these with soy sauce, but our favorite way to eat them is with our teriyaki sauce recipe here.
Sustainable Home, Uncategorized

5 Tips for a More Sustainable Home

Sustainability is a broad topic that involves so many things! There are so many ways to live a sustainable life, and doing so generally grows your skills- i.e. making jam by buying local produce, growing a garden, or becoming a beekeeper.

Of course, being sustainable isn’t always easy- or cheap. But here are a few simple swaps you can implement without emptying your wallet!

  1. Switch from plastic toothbrushes to bamboo. There are so many brands on the internet for varying price ranges. You can usually find bamboo toothbrushes for the same price as plastic toothbrushes. We found 8 bamboo toothbrushes on Amazon for around $8. Sounds pretty good, right?!
Kitchen hand soap from The Spirit Goat in a hard wood soap holder.

2. Use bar soap instead of liquid soap. Of course, this is a personal preference, but I think bar soap lasts longer and treats my hands better than most liquid hand soap. I highly recommend finding a small company that makes soap locally or online. We love our Spirit Goat soap here in Cache Valley!

Flowers from The Willow Farm here in Cache Valley.

3. Find joy in what you have. It’s easy to get caught up in social media and what everyone else is doing. Just because a famous person on Instagram has a certain shirt, or home, or job, doesn’t mean you need those things too to live a fulfilling life. This is something I have been working on lately. Having gratitude for what we have and the opportunities in our lives makes life much better! (And cheaper!!)

4. Cook from home more. I know, I know, being a food blogger makes me a little biased, but seriously- it can save a lot of money! If meal planning stresses you out, there are so many awesome lists on other blogs that include everything you need for a recipe. Then you can plan simple freezer meals or 30-minute meals to make on busy days when it seems like it would be easier to eat out.

5. Shop local!! This has been a big trend on social media lately, especially with COVID over the past year. But it isn’t only a trend- it is a way to support other people and buy quality products! I like supporting ethical, local businesses because I can get to know the owners and their practices. It makes me feel so great knowing I am helping people create by buying their products.

These are just a few tips I have from trying to be more sustainable in my home. This list is by no means perfect or all-encompassing, but I hope it helps!

Baking, Uncategorized

Dairy-Free Pie Crust

Pie crust is a versatile ingredient in so many recipes- pot pie, pumpkin pie, quiche, and the list goes on! Who doesn’t enjoy a good pie crust? I particularly love this recipe because of the addition of vinegar. I dislike sweet pie crusts, especially paired with a sweet filling. The slight zing of the vinegar makes everything I put in the pie crust delicious!

My family has used this pie crust for my whole life- and I know why! It’s flakey, delicious, and cheap to make. Best of all, it is dairy-free!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups of flour
  • 2 cups and 2 tablespoons of shortening
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • Water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Whisk the flour and salt together.
  3. Add the shortening and cut it into the flour mixture with a fork until the shortening is about pea size. Be sure to not work it too much, otherwise it will turn into a strange clump of dough and won’t be flakey.
  4. Crack the egg into a liquid measuring cup and add the vinegar. Beat it slightly, then fill up to the 1 cup line with water.
  5. Pour the liquid slowly into the flour and shortening mixture and stir until it becomes a dough. It might be slightly crumbly, but that is normal. You might be tempted to add more liquid, but I promise it’s enough! Try not to stir it too much or the pie crust will become tough.
  6. Dump the dough out onto the floured counter (Or some parchment paper) and roll it out to the size and shape of your pie tin. It should make three or four 8-9 inch pie crusts. The more times you roll it out, the tougher it becomes.
  7. Place the pie crusts into greased pie tins and poke holes with a fork all over the crust. If you have dry beans or baking weights add them on top of parchment paper and place them in the pie crust for the first 10 minutes of baking. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Let the pie crusts cool and fill with your favorite filling. In these pictures, I chose to use banana cream filling! Yum!

Side notes:

  • As I said, the more you mess with the dough, the tougher it will become. I try to roll out each individual pie crust only once and fold the extra dough down into the pie crust to make pretty edges.
  • One of my family’s favorite ways to use the last bits and pieces of pie dough is to place them on cookie sheets and liberally sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar and then bake them for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees. A delicious way to use up leftover dough! (And it pairs wonderfully with warm homemade pudding!)
Sustainable Home, sustainable kitchen

5 More Tips for a Sustainable Kitchen

Sustainability is one of my favorite topics, and there are countless ways to make your life just a little bit better each day. Here are 5 more of my ideas. Let me know if you already to these, or if you have any to add!

Grow your own herbs. Not only is it fun to see the herbs grow, but you eliminate the plastic you buy live herbs in- and you don’t need a bunch of space like gardens do. Fresh herbs really help to elevate a dish and seeds aren’t expensive. I am currently growing strawberries, mint, rosemary, thyme, and lavender- and we live in an apartment, so every spare space has a plant. (Sorry, hubby!) I am so excited to start using them this summer!

Prep your veggies and fruit and store them properly. I have this problem where I buy produce and forget about it at the back of the fridge until fridge-cleaning day… I feel guilty for buying something and not using it. It’s not budget friendly, and I hate creating more food waste. Some ways to prep food is to cut carrots and submerge them in water until you are ready to use them, or for a healthy snack. You can portion out meat into separate containers and freeze them so you don’t have to defrost the whole package when you next need meat. There are countless other ways to store your food so it lasts longer.

Eat what you have. This is a super simple thing to do to eliminate food waste. I try to buy what we will actually eat- for example, I know bell peppers are healthy, but neither of us like them. I am less likely to actually cook with them than something we do like- like carrots. So buying carrots would be a better option for us. Also, if you have the time to do so, I highly recommend making freezer meals! They save time on busy days and instead of going out to eat, you can pop the meal into a crock pot or instant pot, and voila! This has really helped us eat healthier meals without having to a) figure out what to eat and b) actually prepare it after a long work day.

Have a meatless meal or day every week. This actually helps the budget and can potentially make room to eventually buy quality sustainable meat from a local farmer. Our goal is to have more meatless meals and buy meat from local farmers that raise their animals well. No ideas for vegetarian meals? There are many delicious ideas out there! Sweet potato taco skillets, quinoa chili, pancakes, and countless other recipes can be found on Pinterest.

Use cast iron! Cast iron pans last forever- my mom has her grandma’s cast iron pan and it still works great! Stuck on non-stick pans? If your cast iron is used often and seasoned well (and used when HOT), you don’t have to worry about cleaning up a huge mess every time you use it. I am including this point because some non-stick pans have been proven to have some not-so-nice chemicals in them and you don’t have to buy more than a couple cast iron pans over your life time (and hopefully your grandchildren’s lifetimes too!)

I hope these five tips help you on your sustainability journey! And remember- you don’t have to do everything perfectly. Just one or two changes at a time have a big impact.

Breakfast

Lactose-Free German Pancakes

Breakfast foods are so versatile- they make Saturday mornings memorable, bring friends together for a late brunch, or make dinner quick and easy. Even though we don’t have kids, we still have plenty of days when I come home exhausted and don’t want to make a true dinner- so we have breakfast for dinner at least once a week.

One of our favorite things to eat for breakfast (or dinner) is German Pancakes. They have six eggs in them, which is three times the amount I put into normal pancakes, so I like to think that we get some protein in under all that syrup.

I prefer to bake the German pancakes in my cast-iron skillet, but it’s perfectly fine to bake it in a 9×13 glass pan too.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup of lactose-free milk
  • 4 Tablespoons of lactose-free melted butter, plus 2-4 tablespoons more for melting in the pan
  • 1-2 Tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of flour
  • One thinly sliced apple (Optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place the 9-inch cast-iron pan or the 9×13 pan into the oven.
  2. Place all of the ingredients except for the flour into a blender.
  3. Then add the flour.
  4. Blend together until smooth, scrape down the sides of the blender, and blend again for a few more seconds.
  5. Add the 2-4 tablespoons of butter into the preheated pan and let it melt. It should only take a few seconds.
  6. Pour the blended mixture into the pan and bake for 15-18 minutes. The edges of the German pancakes should be golden brown and puffed past the sides of the pan.
  7. Top with maple syrup and sautéed apples (optional).

Side Notes:

  • You can mix everything in a bowl with a whisk, of course, but the texture isn’t as smooth without the blender.
  • I prefer baking German pancakes in a high-sided cast iron skillet because it turns out thicker and has a custard-like consistency, but they are delicious no matter what you bake it in!
  • I like to put apple slices on the bottom of the pan and bake the German pancakes on top, but my husband doesn’t like the texture. So I sautéed the apples until soft in some Ghee, honey, and a little cinnamon to top my German pancakes. Delicious!
  • If you are wondering where I get my lactose-free butter and milk, I have recipes on how to make your own on the blog.
Lactose-Free Dairy

Easy DIY Lactose-Free Milk

This is less of a recipe and more of a life hack to save money- and your stomach! Milk is used in so many ways that it’s hard to cut out of my diet. My husband prefers me to use milk over milk alternatives when baking, and truthfully, so do I.

Of course, I enjoy a good bowl of cereal with some chocolate almond milk, but it’s hard to convince my husband that almond milk is tasty.

So I turn to lactose-free milk instead of dairy alternatives but it gets expensive. That’s why I decided to make it myself. It’s super easy and cheaper!

Now I don’t have to worry about buying two kinds of milk every week for my husband and me. Such a relief!

If you are like me, you need a nice glass of milk with just-out-of-the-oven cookies. Now you can have that creamy milk without worrying about paying more than you actually need to!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 Gallon of milk
  • 2-4 tablets/ drops/ caplets of lactase

Directions:

  1. Take 2-4 tablets/ caplets/ drops of lactase and put them into your milk. Shake the milk well and let it sit for at least 24 hours. If needed, let the milk remain in the fridge for up to 4 days before using.

Side Notes:

  • This recipe does need you to know how sensitive you are to lactose. If I put two tablets of lactase into a gallon of milk, I can use it within 24 hours. But other people might need to wait 3 or 4 days before using it.
  • If you use lactase tablets, I recommend crushing them up before putting them into the milk. If you use caplets, I would open the caplet and put the powder directly into the milk. I haven’t used lactase drops before, but I know that you can buy them on Amazon. Let me know if you use them and what your experience is like!
  • On occasion we see some funky clumps of milk, but it has never bothered us. I am guessing it has to do with something the tablets or caplets have in them. If this would bother you, I would recommend buying the lactase droplets instead. (Although I don’t know if it eliminates the lumps because I haven’t used them before.)

Uncategorized

Dairy-Free Hot Fudge Sauce

Hot fudge is that lovely chocolatey, silky, rich sauce to top ice cream- but sometimes I just don’t want to deal with the dairy in it. On good days, taking a lactase pill works just fine. Other days, my stomach vetoes dairy.

If you came here for a healthy dairy-free hot fudge recipe… sorry to tell you, but this is the wrong blog! I love having delicious desserts. Dairy-free doesn’t have to mean healthy.

When I found out I was lactose-intolerant, I was devastated! Before then, I had never had dairy-free food, and frankly, I was scared. The trick is finding the right recipes that work with the flavors of the dairy-free ingredients. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is one of those recipes! Chocolate and coconut work so well together, so why not make a hot fudge sauce with coconut cream?

I took to Pinterest to gather details on what other people have done before me. I found a lovely recipe by SimplyWhisked.com and tweaked it to fit my tastebuds. The hot fudge sauce I created is a darker version made with coconut cream instead of coconut milk. I hope you find this recipe as decadent as I did!

This is easy to mix into a recipe of Nice cream (ice cream made with frozen bananas)- I chose to make a peanut butter Nice cream and mixed the fudge in. I LOVE Tillamook’s peanut butter chocolate ice cream, so I wanted to attempt to replicate it. The recipe is in the works, so it will be on here soon!

Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup canned coconut cream
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbs of cocoa powder
  • 1 cup of your choice of dairy-free chocolate chips (I used a blend of semi-sweet and dark)
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp of salt

Directions

  1. In preparation, you can either let your can of coconut cream stand upright in the fridge or let it sit upright in your cupboard. If you leave it in the fridge, it is easier to scoop out the top layer of cream. Of course, the whole can is coconut cream, but the creamiest part floats to the top. Scoop the top off until you have the 2/3 cup of coconut cream needed.
  2. Place the coconut cream, brown sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, vanilla, and salt into a small saucepan- I would sift the cocoa powder into the mixture to avoid any lumps- and heat it on medium heat, stirring often to break up the clumps of chocolate (or cocoa powder- I see ya’ll who don’t have time to sift the cocoa powder.)
  3. Heat it until the mixture is smooth and all the chocolate is melted.
  4. Take it off the heat and let it cool, like a patient person. (I totally snuck a taste test with hopes that my tongue wouldn’t be burned off. Luckily, it wasn’t. If you can’t tell, adrenaline junkie is my middle name.)
  5. You can use it now on some dairy-free ice cream, or you can stick it in the fridge until you want to use it. After a night in the fridge, it turns into a thick, creamy fudge! So you can enjoy it by the spoonful hot OR cold. You can store it in the fridge for four or five days, but you be the judge of it by the smell.

Side Notes:

  • I used a blend of 45% to 60% dark chocolate, so my hot fudge turned out pretty dark- just how I like it! If you prefer milk chocolate, find a dairy-free chocolate brand and experiment with amounts of white, milk, and dark chocolate. Enjoy Life has a couple good options. My favorite kind of chocolate to use is Guittard for the quality and varying percentages of chocolate. From my experience, they have dairy-free chocolate from 45% and on, but read the label before you buy it! From my knowledge, it isn’t dairy allergy friendly, so maybe Enjoy Life or another allergy conscious brand would be a better choice for those with dairy-allergies.
  • This coconut fudge is VERY chocolatey! I wanted it to taste like chocolate with only a hint of coconut on the back of your palate. If you prefer a stronger coconut flavor, I would remove the 2 Tbs of cocoa powder in the recipe.

Uncategorized

Homemade Dairy-free Granola

Granola is a versatile breakfast item. You can add it to a smoothie bowl, a bowl of yogurt, or have it with milk. I really enjoy Green Valley’s lactose-free vanilla yogurt or some chocolate almond milk to go with a bowl of granola to add some protein.

I like to have granola on hand because it makes breakfast quick and easy. My husband likes quick breakfasts that he doesn’t have to cook, so this works perfect! I also like knowing exactly what we are eating for breakfast. A tad healthier than [Your Favorite Brand-Name Cereal], right?

My mother-in-law was kind enough to share the original recipe with me when my husband started asking for me to make it. I have tweaked it over time to fit what we like- and that’s the beauty of this recipe! It is easy to customize to fit your taste and diet.

When I made this granola I decided to go with larger pieces of coconut, a couple teaspoons of cinnamon, and sliced almonds to customize it. However you choose to customize it, I hope you enjoy it!

Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 7 cups of quick or rolled oats (I like a mix)
  • 1-2 cups of shredded coconut
  • 1-2 cups of ground flax seed, wheat flour, chia seeds, quinoa, and anything else you want to add! I generally add 1 cup of flax seed and make up the other cup with the other seeds and grains I happen to have in my pantry.
  • 1-2 cups of your preferred nuts (optional)- I like pecans, walnuts, and almonds.
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup honey- I suggest using local honey because local beekeepers are more likely to treat their bees well and the honey tastes better too!
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup oil of your choice
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • Raisins or other dried fruit (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix the oats, shredded coconut, seeds and optional nuts into a large bowl.

3. Add honey, brown sugar, oil, water, and vanilla into a saucepan.

4. Set the stove to medium heat and let the mixture simmer until the sugar and honey are dissolved, stirring occasionally.

5. Pour the hot mixture into the large bowl with the oat mixture. Stir it until everything is coated evenly.

6. Scoop the mixture onto two large jelly-roll size baking pans and spread it out thinly. Don’t press it into the pan or it will turn into weird granola bars.

7. Place your two pans into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes take the pans out and give them a good stir. Move the top pan to the bottom rack and vice versa to make sure they are cooking equally.

8. Repeat the last step another three to five times or until the granola takes on a golden color and everything starts separating and being less clumpy. It won’t get very crispy until it has cooled, so don’t bake it for too long or it might burn!

9. After the granola has cooled, add dried fruit. I personally don’t like the flavor of baked dried fruit as it tends to get harder and slightly burnt, so I omit it until this step.

Side Notes

  • I generally use vegetable oil because I usually have it on hand, but coconut oil, ghee, or avocado oil all should work as well. I don’t know the exchange between vegetable oil and the others, but I am sure it is a quick Google search away.
  • I haven’t tried maple syrup or coconut sugar in this recipe yet, but I am sure it would be delicious! It would be easy to make a maple almond granola with real maple syrup. Mmmm!
  • It can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour for the granola to bake. It depends on what you added, the moisture in the air, and if you are wearing your lucky socks. But seriously, granola is hard to mess up. The only way I have messed it up before was by burning it because I was trying to get it extra crispy. Oops!
  • Have you tentatively taken your granola out of the oven for fear it will burn only to find that it isn’t quite crispy enough? Never fear! You can put it back in a 350 degree oven for another 5-10 minutes to crisp it up. It’s okay to do this even if the granola has cooled.
Uncategorized

5 Tips for a More Sustainable Kitchen

Sustainability is a broad topic that can cover every part of our lives. To me, the kitchen is a place that can easily be a source of more waste than any other part of the house. Food waste, disposable containers, and plastic bags slowly add to the environmental problem.

While I don’t have a perfectly sustainable kitchen, I am slowly swapping out products where I can. Like most people, we can only spend so much of our budget on a sustainable lifestyle. The most important thing about sustainability is that we are never perfect- only continuously striving toward a better life, a better home, and a better world.

Here are some of the tips I have amassed after working to have a sustainable kitchen for the past couple of years.

  • Buy products in cans or glass jars when you can. You can then recycle the cans and reuse the glass jars! My husband and I like to buy Classico pizza and pasta sauce because the full size jars fit the regular size Ball lids. We happen to have plenty of lids at our house because I can what we can get from the Farmer’s market. I love to reuse jars for keeping bone broth or sauces or even planting something in them!
  • Use dish towels and dish rags over paper towels. Most spills can easily be soaked up with a dish towel and then wiped down with the dish rag. If you have a spill that you consider grosser than most, have a basket of rags in the kitchen so you don’t ruin your cute dish towels. We were able to find reusable paper towels (pictured) at an Asian store and they have been fun to use in place of disposable ones.
  • Thrift! There are so many great things you can find at the thrift store. I have found a new pizza stone, a big cookie scooper, and plenty of great containers (like in the picture) at our local thrift store. It’s a great feeling buying something for cheap and knowing it is still good quality. (Of course there are not-so-great things at thrift stores, but the search is part of the experience!) Supporting your local thrift store also helps the community- my favorite thrift store is a non-profit that donates everything to organizations that support the family and protect people against abuse. I would recommend a quick google search to find what’s local!
  • Go to your farmer’s market. Not only is it a great experience, but you can support your community and buy delicious, high-quality products. During the summer months, we try to buy all of our produce at the farmer’s market. I also like buying honey, flowers, and products at the farmer’s market. Since we don’t have a garden or space to make one, the farmer’s market is the next best thing for us.
  • Use reusable containers when possible. We love our snapware and jars. They don’t leak and are perfect to stack together. Our reusable bags are great for quick snacks and sandwiches. We also use paper bags and Lunchskins for packing lunches. They are recyclable and easy to use for lunches on the go when a container won’t work.

And there you go! Five of my tips for a more sustainable kitchen. If you have anything to add, please let me know! I hope these tips help you on your journey to a more sustainable life.