Real Food with Real Allergies

(coconut whipped “cream” with tropical fruit)

One thing that I strongly believe in, is eating “real food”. By real food, I mean food like milk, meat, eggs, vegetables, and whole grains. While each of these different foods would need a post explaining why I think each is a healthy, nourishing food to eat, I want to give just an overarching principle I have towards my eating habits.

I eat real food.

It’s that simple. I truly believe that having a breakfast of scrambled eggs, buttered, sourdough whole grain toast, and a big glass of pastured milk is a healthy breakfast. I believe that a dinner of roast beef and gravy, with veggies, potatoes, and a salad, is also a very healthy dinner. I believe that a lunch of raw cheddar cheese, homemade sauerkraut, and sourdough bread is another easy and fast healthy lunch. It’s real food. It’s good food and it’s good for you.

But there are things that get in the way of eating real food. Like allergies, or food intolerances. Liver problems might make eating healthy fats hard, yeast problems might cut out healthy fruits, grains, and other more sugar forming food from your diet. Sometimes different health problems do dictate different diets.

Personally, I have recently been tested for a milk intolerance. The test came back showing that I had a hard time digesting milk (it’s not an allergy, just something that is suppressing my immune system). I couldn’t believe it. Milk has been a staple since I starting eating solids. While I may not be off of milk for the rest of my life (after I have been off of it for a few more weeks, I will test myself and see how my body reacts to it), I, at the very least, will have to be careful about how much dairy I consume.

But when I was faced with not eating dairy, I had to decide how I was going to eat. My “eat real food” principles were starting to crumble when I saw all of the fake cheese, milk, butter, and sour cream before my eyes. But I realized that these products were just imitating something I wanted. It wasn’t the real thing. The reason I wanted rice cheese was not because it’s a natural process to make rice into cheese that people have been eating for thousands of years. I wanted the rice cheese because it was reminding me of real cheese, and that’s what I really wanted. Besides that, many of these products still had dairy products in them! The other half were made from soy. While I do eat traditional fermented soy products, I am not convinced that other soy products are good for your health.

So what’s a girl to do? I have started trying to learn from cultures that have not traditionally leaned on dairy for their daily substance. So far the biggest boon, has been learning to appreciate coconut milk and miso soup more. While I am not against rice milk (it is a “real food”), it really doesn’t even compare nutritionally with real milk. Learning how to replace all of the calcium, magnesium, protein, and other important nutrients in milk has been a challenge. I am definitely still learning and it’s a process.

But I do know this. I want to keep my commitment to real food as much as possible. Although I may have “real” food issues, I want to eat real food, and not settle for real food imitations.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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Comments

  1. Linds says

    I appreciate this post. We are really trying to make an effort towards ‘real food’. What initially led us on this journey was food allergies. Now we are pursuing real food because we’re learning how much better it truly is for us. However, you’re right food allergies do make it challenging.

    In our home someone is currently avoiding, nuts, tree nuts, dairy, fish, shellfish, eggs and tomatoes. It’s amazing how you learn to get your nutrients from other real food sources, although it isn’t easy. What I would for a glass of ‘real’ milk! :)

  2. Sarah says

    I’m a real foodie too! When people ask me how we can afford to buy all the fresh fruit and veggies we eat and some of the organic grains, dairy, etc., I’m sort of always shocked. What I want to tell them is, if they’d stop shopping those middle aisles with the processed cereal and boxed, dried-out cookies with preservatives, and convenience meals from a box and just generally bad for you “cheap” foods, they’d have a whole lot more money to buy good, real (in-season! It’s cheaper!) food. And if they really want cookies, make them! A bag of flour is $2.50 and would make dozens of cookies and breads and crackers . . . it’s just all in the thought process. Of course, then they think I’m off my rocker when they see me hoarding the bacon grease, and freezing the leftover chicken bones from roast chicken to make stock! :)

    Good luck with your lactose problem! I’ve found that I can’t really digest milk so well, but do fine with yogurt and cheese and sour cream, so I make do . . . Best of luck with your journey!

    Best,
    Sarah

  3. Kimi Harris says

    Linds,
    I understand how hard it is with all of those allergies. My in-laws have a lot of allergies as well and it can be hard to cook for them :-) My mother in law does a great job though.

    Sarah,
    I hear you. It’s true. You can save so much money when you make your own food instead of buying convenience food! I also hoard all of my bacon grease, and chicken bones! LOL It’s almost the best part! ;-)

  4. jiaying says

    i hope your problem with milk cures itself! it’s such a waste for someone like you who appreciates real food!

  5. Anita says

    My daughter Erin is actually allergic to milk. We have found that she can enjoy goats milk instead of cows milk without incident. However she hates the taste of it, unless of course it’s fresh goats milk. But I do buy goats cheese and cheese made from sheeps milk, which doesn’t bother her either.

    As far as the question, “Why is natural food so expensive?” I think the question should be, “What are they doing to the food to make it so cheap?”

    Also I’m a realist when it comes to food, but I’ve switch terms. I no longer say “real food”, I say “pure food”. That way if I drink milk, I drink pure milk, regardless if its rice milk, goats milk, coconut milk or cows milk.

  6. CLJY says

    While I’m sorry you will have to go off dairy, I’m also a little glad for the rest of us who also have to do without dairy. I’ll be able to enjoy even more of your yummy recipes.

    We have a couple in our family who can’t have dairy. I am sensitive myself, but I seem to do okay with butter, ghee is even better, and once in awhile a small amount of raw cream on something. We also keep a fil (sp?) milk culture that we use for smoothies, ranch dressing, and anything that normally calls for buttermilk or yogurt. I don’t eat it baked in something, but if it is raw like in ranch dressing it doesn’t bother me.

    Canned coconut milk has been a wonderful substitute for many things. Young coconuts blended with frozen banans and a little vanilla make a great real food milk shake!

    So are you going to tell us how to make the yummy looking coconut whipped cream?

    Thanks so much!
    Carolyn

  7. Rebekah says

    Thanks so much for this post. My children are allergic to milk, this has been a difficult journey for me learning to do without but I know it’s better for them. I have just learned to do without lots of things or use water instead of milk. We tried to give her soy(I didn’t know at the time it was bad for her) and then rice milk and she developed allergies to those as well. I guess it’s part of living that “simple” lifestyle. We love coconut milk as well, we use it in our strawberry smoothies!!!

  8. amy best says

    Well, I’ll have to selfishly agree with an above comment that I am enjoying the recent dairy free recipes! :-) But I do hope for your sake you’ll be able to eat dairy again!

  9. Anonymous says

    My son-in-law would get deathly sick after drinking milk or eating cheese.
    I read that pasturized milk changes the milk sugar and makes it hard for us to digest. RAw milk does not do that and those with milk intolerence can drink it fine.
    We are blessed with a dairy only 20miles away that sells raw milk and cheese. It is cheaper than what is in the store! He tried and now can have milk and cheese without any problems!
    I don’t know what the laws in your state are concerning raw milk but you might check into it. This is a very clean dairy and the big plus to raw milk is lots of natural probiotics!
    Hope this is something that can work for you! Narita

  10. Kimi Harris says

    Hello Everyone!

    Yes, I guess that all of you who also can’t have dairy will like that my recipes will be dairy free recipes. :-) Maybe we can be dairy free friends, or something.

    I am going to try to keep my recipes dairy free friendly and, for all of the “happy people” who can have dairy, dairy friendly. LOL

    Coconut milk is great. It’s the only thing I have found that is creamy like milk would be. :-) Still learning how to use it, but have found many things I like so far!

    Narita,

    Here is the thing. I was actually drinking raw milk that was cultured. It doesn’t get more easy to digest than that! But we will see how my self test goes in a little while. The naturopath told me that I should really notice if it bothers me or not after being off of it for at least a month.

    • says

      Hello Kimi,

      My mom somehow found your blog and it’s really great! I especially appreciate it since I’m lactose intolerant. Here’s my story: for the past few years (4-5 I’d say), I’d have an occasional reaction to dairy, after which I would take lactase pills for about a week or so. Then I’d usually forget to take the pills when I had dairy, but I’d be fine. It’s like the pills kind of stimulated my body to produce natural lactase.

      Then in January 2009 I had a really bad reaction. I was on antibiotics for a UTI (urinary tract infection, which I seem to get periodically), and it was right before my monthly cycle, too. I was feeling kind of sick from that and I think from the antibiotics, and the only thing I felt like eating was yogurt. My mom makes yogurt from raw milk, and I usually just ate it with maple syrup. I had a very bad lactose intolerance reaction after that, which made me feel even worse! The next day I started feeling better and had a piece of corn bread, which had milk in it but I thought it wouldn’t affect me b/c it was baked. However, it did have an ill effect, unfortunately.
      I started avoiding milk and yogurt, and then I started having reactions to cheese. I am off all dairy products, although I will occasionally have a dairy product but with one or sometimes 2 lactase pills.
      What is confusing to me is that I’ve heard yogurt is easier for lactose intolerants to process, but that is what really set off my case. You mentioned that you might not be dairy-free forever…how are you going to “cure” yourself? I’d really like to know, because I do miss real ice cream, yogurt, and cheese sometimes!
      I’m also playing around with my diet to test if I’m allergic to corn. I usually eat corn chips with my lunch, and after every lunch I would get GI symptoms. (On an allergy test done awhile ago, corn came out as an allergy, but those food allergy tests aren’t always accurate.) I cut out corn since Wed. or Thurs., and I’ve been feeling better! Do you have any corn-free recipes?

  11. Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home says

    I love this post and really relate to what you’re saying. When I was on my recent restricted diet, it was so difficult to know what to eat because I didn’t want to eat the imitations that were out there. I did use some almond milk and pasteurized/homogenized goat’s milk for lack of anything else to use (I couldn’t have coconut), but I wanted to have something better than that.

    I definitely appreciate the “real food” recipes that you provide, and would agree with your statements about the simple, basic foods that constitute a healthy meal. It would be great if this milk sensitivity isn’t long lasting, but if it is, I’m glad you’re finding alternatives that satisfy you. I’m currently off of egg yolks, even after my diet, and am struggling with that, as I adore eggs (and was so sad when I saw your upcoming egg series post!). But, I will continue to look for real food alternatives as well!

  12. doreen says

    I just found out at the end of February that my now 3 month old nursing daughter has a dairy food intolerance too, possibly an allergy. I have practiced extended breastfeeding with my older children and intend to do so with my latest.
    That being said, I’ve been on a dairy elimination diet and am starting trials for soy and peanuts. Thank you for your post, and also your recipe(s). I am starting to get over my pity party for missing the entire food group of dairy, and potentially most of the substitutes and moving towards accepting the lifestyle change and hearing that I’m not the only one helps!

  13. cheeseslave says

    Hi, I love your blog. I am not sure how I found it but I’m very glad I did.

    I am going to try the chocolate coconut milk ice cream tonight.

    I know David Lebowitz BTW. Well, I met him anyway — KNEW him. He made cookies for my wedding in 1997! Funny, eh?

    Anyhow, I was going back and reading your past entries… I wanted to tell you that you can recover from dairy intolerance!

    We are currently doing the “GAPS diet” which helps reverse food intolerances — can even cure celiac diseases. You might want to look into that!

    It’s based on the book Gut & Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride. She is reversing autism in many children with this diet — and of course lots of food allergies and other disorders.

    GAPS is based on the SCD diet — Specific Carbohydrates Diet.

    Email me if you want to know more — you can also read about it on my blog. And there is a group for people like us doing this diet — it’s called Healing Leaky Gut on Yahoo Groups.

    Ann Marie

  14. Anonymous says

    Please, please, please tell us how you made the coconut cream pictured with this post. I have tried in vain to produce a whipped coconut cream for my allergic kids. This would be a great help! I love your blog – I just found it and will be checking back often!

  15. Jenn says

    Hello! I have emailed you before thanking you for the blog, but I am thanking you again. Thanks!!! ;)
    I have been dairy and egg free for about two years now and had been using things like soy milk (uhoh, I know) yet, after coming to “real food,” I am trying to ease myself back to dairy/eggs. … To no avail. Unfortunately, I am showing deficiencies in things such as calcium, etc (bones bending) and am getting a tad desperate. What do you do to make up for those missing nutrients? Coconut milk and almond milk, which I use, both have good fats, but not much protein or calcium or anything of that nature. Help?

    • KimiHarris says

      Jenn,

      Homemade chicken broth is the easiest way I know to get good quality calcium into a dairy free diet. In fact, I am sipping a cup of hot broth right now! I share my recipe on this blog, just search for it. :-)

  16. Jenn says

    Excellent! Thank you for your reply. I just made a huge batch of broth so I guess I know what I am having tomorrow :)

  17. says

    I can relate to this very much. I try to eat real food as much as possible, but I’m allergic to milk protein, gluten, and soy protein. Giving up milk was very hard for me because I used to drink a lot of tea with milk – that kind of was my ultimate soul”food”. But almond milk is a good substitute (as I don’t like coconut). I make it myself from soaked almonds, which is much cheaper and tastier that store-bought. It might be even healthier since I don’t know whether the use soaked almonds for that one.

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