Is There Life After Cheese?

Okay, so that hiatus went on a whole lot longer than I’d originally planned.

Short version:   Life has been–crazy.  2013 was a very full, very stressful year and I really needed that time off from blogging.  I’m still crazy busy, and I don’t know if I’ll be coming back even now, but I have felt this compulsion to post, so here I am.

We’ve got the gluten free thing down in our household.  Now, I’m getting a new challenge, as I’ve recently found out that I’m casein intolerant.  That’s the protein in dairy, for those of you who aren’t in the know.  This is entirely unrelated to lactose intolerance, which is simply those people who lack the enzyme to process lactose and end up with gastro-intestinal discomfort.  There are all kinds of products for the lactose intolerant that are loaded with casein.  In terms of dealing with a casein allergy and the public’s general knowledge–we’re now about where gluten was 15 years ago.  Which is to say that outside of our own kitchens, we’re up s*it creek without a paddle.

I’m working my way through the stages of grief and right now I’m smack dab in the middle of Blisteringly Furious.  I suspect I’m going to be there a while.

Having been through this with hubby for gluten, I know that the most important things I can do are to educate myself, locate the best resources, and to find replacements for a handful of my favorite foods.  The problem being that every single one of my favorite foods uses cheese and there is no acceptable substitute for cheese (I live in the small town south, if you’ll remember).  The “veggie” cheeses at the grocery store have casein.  They’re geared to the lactose intolerant.  There is a product called Daiya, but it is not available within a 3 hour drive of me, and my grocery store won’t order it.  It’s on my list of stuff to pick up on my trip down to New Orleans next month.

A vegan friend recommended to me The Uncheese Cookbookwhich I picked up.  After ordering a bunch of the ingredients I didn’t already have, I’ve been slowly going through and testing recipes in good faith, trying to maintain a positive attitude.  I tried the Nacho Cheeze sauce on nachos, which were awful.  I did discover that it works decently well for an Easy Mac.  Last night I tried the faux mozzarella on pizza (which I’ve been craving for weeks, like WHOA), which was one of the most demoralizing food experiences I’ve ever had.  It didn’t melt (casein is what makes cheese gloriously gooey and melty and wonderful) as the book said.  Which ended up being a good thing, as I could still peel it off and at least eat my soggy tomato bread (which is what pizza is without cheese).  I spent the rest of the night on the verge of tears.  This would be after the weekend when we had a family dinner and I was asked to make a lemon icebox pie (I make kick ass awesome lemon icebox pie).  I tried a vegan version that turned out like lemon snot, so I went ahead and made the real thing for everybody else and got to watch them nom and rave while I got nothing.  And we circle back around to Blisteringly Furious and Depressed on the verge of tears.

I’ve been looking around trying to find some good resources for dairy free food blogs.  I’m really annoyed at all the ones out there with the sanctimonious lectures about how dairy is so bad for you and blah blah.  I, frankly, don’t give a damn how bad it is for you.  The lecture doesn’t help me know how to live without cheese.  It was my one food that, if asked what I could never live without, I always said.  This is so sucktastic I don’t even know where to start.  All the other dairy stuff–milk, desserts, that kind of thing are adaptable.  I already found other stuff for those during the elimination diet that led to this discovery in the first place.  But cheese?

I’ve got another good friend also going dairy free due to other medical reasons, and we’ve been commiserating and shaking our fists at the Universe.  And I know we’re not alone.  I guess that’s why I posted today.   So I can’t promise I’ll be back here regularly with normal food bloggy stuff, but I will be here to post about my experience with going dairy free, sharing the resources I find and what works and what doesn’t.  If you have stuff to share with others, please feel free to email me at potsandplots (at) gmail (dot) com, catch me on twitter @kaitnolan or on Facebook.

At some point, I’ll go through my archives here and tag the recipes that are already naturally dairy free (as I did for gluten free).  Given how much I love dairy, I doubt there will be a whole lot.

8 thoughts on “Is There Life After Cheese?

  1. It’s too bad there isn’t some sort of tofu-like replacement for cheese, which retains the taste and perhaps even a little of the texture of cheese. For pizza I’ve had to go white-sauce based (with alfredo), but pizza is my soul food and going without a real one has proven to be well-nigh impossible. ARGH.

  2. I feel bad for you Kait. Your symptoms have to be quite severe to give up your favorite food. I, like you love to cook and find it a tremendous challange to cook for family members that are on specific diets. I know how you feel being backed into the corner and feeling robbed from a great joy. Chin up, maybe they will make a pill for
    casein intolerance that will you allowed to eat cheese without any discomfort.

    1. Hives. Head to toe hives. Sometimes eczema. I rose to the challenge of dealing with hubby’s gluten intolerance and I was rabidly diligent about making SURE he was included and covered whenever we were going to social engagements (sometimes well beyond the point he thought necessary) because I knew how I would feel in his shoes and…yeah, now I’m there.

  3. I am going through extensive allergy tests right now. My endoscopy found lesions in my esophagus that will turn to cancer, so the doctor is trying to rid me of the food allergy problems. I do hope it is not cheese or milk products, pecans, or bananas. I suppose I can deal with the rest. I use an inhaler but I swallow it instead of inhaling it. Okay, I have three other inhalers for allergies. One is my rescue inhaler. I am said for you because I know how I would mourn, too.

  4. I was diagnosed with celiac disease and a casein intolerance at the same time, about five years ago, and for a while I tried not to replace bread and cheese and just get used to not having them (especially because the alternatives, like you mentioned, are so awful). My taste buds have definitely adapted, to the point where I can’t remember what eating really cheesy foods is like anymore. But one can only go so long without cheese on her pizza (my absolute favorite food)! One thing I learned is that casein is different in dairy products from different animals. My intolerance is specifically to cow’s milk, so I’ve found that I can tolerate goat cheese just fine. It doesn’t melt quite the same, but it’s the closest I’ve been able to find in terms of consistency and taste. If your casein intolerance is also specific to cow’s milk, it might be an alternative. Good luck!

    1. Goat cheese was a definite no. I still have sheep’s milk cheeses to test, though. And I finally found Daiya, which actually does melt like cheese and doesn’t taste half bad.

  5. Daiya was a life saver for me! I spent months in the “Shaking my fist at the universe” stage. Some days I’m still there. I was mildly lactose intolerant as a child and when I say mild, I mean I could eat ice cream and cheese dip and yogurt, I just had to limit it. No other problems with foods. In January 2014, I went to the ER in anaphylactic shock. After several trips, elimination diets, and finally blood tests, I was diagnosed with allergies to beef and shrimp. I have an oral allergy to peanuts and tree nuts. I was still okay with dairy products until one day in March when I had a reaction to it. My doctor says this happens sometimes to people who have an allergy to beef protein. 2-3 months ago I had a mild reaction to bacon. I waited two weeks and tried it again…couldn’t breathe. I am adjusting, but it takes A LOT of time.
    It’s been nearly a year, but last week I drove through town and cried when I passed a Hardees sign that said “Texas Thickburger” because there is nothing I’d love more right now than to bite into a juicy thick cheeseburger. Nothing I’d rather do than live, of course. 🙂
    Good luck! Thank you for posting!! It really helps to know I am not the only one who struggles!

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