When my daughter was diagnosed with a milk allergy at just 17 months old, I could have never imagined where our food journey was about to take us.
It was just two years prior to that when I learned of my son’s shellfish allergy.
Because my son is severely allergic to shellfish, exposure giving him a full-blown anaphylaxis response; and because I had never ever dealt with a food allergy before his, I figured his immediate and dire reaction was exactly what we should expect with all food allergies.
If only it were so easy.
According to the Mayo Clinic, food allergy symptoms may include:
- Tingling or itching in the mouth
- Hives, itching or eczema
- Swelling of the lips, face tongue and throat, or other parts of the body
- Wheezing, nasal congestion or trouble breathing
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
These symptoms do not include more severe, anaphylaxis reactions where there may be a constriction and tightening of airways, shock, rapid pulse, dizziness or loss of consciousness; symptoms that require immediate care.
With so many varied symptoms, some that may not reveal themselves for as long as two to three days after ingesting an allergen, it is difficult, if not impossible at times to properly diagnose a food allergy.
When an allergy is diagnosed, especially when it is a food that is commonly enjoyed on a daily basis (milk, wheat, etc), there is often a panic of “what am I going to eat/how am I going to feed my child?”
That is where mommy bloggers like me come in.
Once I began to dig in and figure out what all exactly had milk in it, I immediately felt a sense of panic.
Quickly I learned that I had to not only watch out for the word “milk” on the label, nooo…I had to watch out for key words like: casein, whey and lactose.
After hours and hours of inspecting, dissecting and learning to read food labels, here are just a few things that I learned.
Bread has milk it.
Ham has milk in it.
‘Veggie cheese’ has milk in it.
A number of artificial sweeteners are derived from milk.
Breath mints. Breath mints sometimes have milk in them.
Medication sometimes has milk in it (like that pink amoxicillin pediatricians often prescribe)
Chocolate. Oh my poor baby…do you know how difficult it is to find chocolate that is truly dairy free?
Oh my poor baby.
But then I learned, not all bread has milk in it. There is plenty of ham that is made without lactose or casein additives. Vegan cheese is okay for us; ‘veggie’ cheese often is not. Artificial sweeteners are not good for us anyway, so we just eliminated those…breath mints don’t always have milk in them and when it comes to chocolate, the richest, creamiest and finest dark chocolates are often dairy-free.
I can live with being a chocolate snob. Better yet, I can live with teaching my daughter to be a chocolate snob.
There are certainly worse things in life.
Still, when it comes to every day foods: cheese, yogurt, milk… where do you turn when you have a dairy allergy?
Fortunately for us, it seems the market is finally becoming aware of the growing epidemic food allergies have become.
Instead of being a rarity, we are finding that our difficulties are actually being shared by many in our community, in our country and even throughout the world.
Every day it seems new products arrive which make our world not only easier, but tastier too.
Unfortunately, many of those products come with a big price tag.
Take yogurt for example.
One six-ounce container of dairy free yogurt costs us anywhere from $1.29-$1.60 each.
We love yogurt. We love the naturally healing good bacterial provided by yogurt.
We do not, however, love that price.
It did not take me long to determine that making my own yogurt might be a worthwhile venture.
My friend Stephanie O’Dea, the crockpot lady herself seemed to have the answer.
You see, Stephanie came up with the ingenious idea of making organic yogurt in her crockpot.
A reader of hers even made an allergy-free version of crockpot yogurt.
So I tried it.
I tried again.
By the fourth or fifth time, I had just about given up. Just about.
After many, many attempts…I am pleased to say that I, too, have learned to make yogurt in my crockpot.
More than just a cultured milk product (which is very yummy in its own right), I finally managed to make a yogurt my children can sink their spoons into.
With just a few tweaks to Stephanie’s ingenious recipe, I have turned 6 oz of yogurt into 128 ounces of pure gold…
Okay, so it’s still yogurt. But for a savings of about $30 a batch, it might as well be gold in my book.
Learn how to make your own liquid go…er, yogurt by following the recipe and detailed steps below.
- ½ gallon Unsweetened Coconut Milk
- 4 Tbs Agar Agar Flakes
- 6 ounces (1 container) Plain, Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Yogurt
- In 4-6 quart crockpot, mix together ½ gallon unsweetened coconut milk and 4 tbs of agar agar flakes. Turn temperature to low, cover and cook for 1 hour.
- Remove cover, whisk agar agar and milk mixture until fully incorporated, return cover and let cook for another 1 ½ hours (2 ½ hours total).
- After 2 ½ hours, remove cover, whisk agar agar and milk mixture again, return cover and unplug crock.
- Allow crock to sit for 3 hours, unplugged with the lid on.
- When 3 hours have passed, scoop out 2 cups of the warmish milk/agar mix and put it in a medium bowl. Whisk in the container of dairy-free coconut milk yogurt then dump the bowl contents back into the crockpot. Stir to combine.
- Keeping crock unplugged, return lid and wrap a heavy bath towel (or two) around the crock for insulation. Let crock sit for 10-12 hours (overnight is best). In the morning, you will discover your lovely yogurt, milk and agar mix has thickened, although it will not be as thick as the store-bought stuff you are used to. Still, there is no doubt this is yogurt.
- If you still want to add more thickness, try adding in ¼ c tapioca starch or arrowroot powder.
- You may find bits of agar still floating in the mix, because we add in whole fruits to ours, the few flakes that are left never bother us.
- If you must, straining your yogurt can remove any extra agar remnants.
- Add in fruit, honey or whatever toppings you please to your velvety white creation.
- Have fun, make it your own and eat in good health.
- Makes 1/2 gallon.