Saturday, August 12, 2017

Baby Baby - You Drive Me Crazy (in a good way)!

Why, hello there! We're alive - pinky swear. We've been hiding under a rock due to a very busy summer schedule and lots of changes in our little lives. The biggest change of them all is that....Tot is now dairy-free. Insert all types of panic signals and buttons you can physically imagine because that's exactly what stabbed through my heart when we first realized it.

Now, I don't want to be dramatic. Children tackle health allergies all the time and we're actually blessed that this is the issue we're facing and not something far more serious. But, as you've read - keeping weight on Tot has been an obstacle since the day she was born. She's still in an incredibly low weight bracket and every meal, this Mama has to prepare for battle to make sure I trick my daughter into eating something other than Annie's fruit snacks. Up until we connected the dots, Tot's favorite food group was cheese. "Mama, more. More Mama.."

As you also know, I'm a neurotic healthy eater (most days) and don't eat any dairy so I immediately went into supermom mode in an attempt to reform her diet. She'll just eat what I eat, or so I thought. Wrong.

Little ones need far more nutrients than Mama's kale & avocado base, and it can be so difficult navigating that when half the ingredients will make her sick. But, just blessed are we in this day and age for...drumroll please....WHOLE FOODS! I don't know how Mama's past dealt with dairy allergies with toddlers without this saving grace.

I've strategically navigated the aisles back and forth, reading each and every ingredient desperate for some dairy alternatives and boy, have I found them. Veganism has taken such a hit in mainstream media, but it has been heaven-sent for our family. Now, Tot still eats fish and poultry - she's just not the biggest fan so we try not to solely focus on that for her main protein. With incorporating new treats like tofu and almonds, we're not having to painstakingly count every piece of chicken she eats to make sure she's getting every last nutrient and iron she needs.

Here are a few dairy-free staples we're currently obsessed with:

Coconut Milk

Obviously, Tot's formula that we were using to supplement her diet had to hasta la vista. And, with nuts being a strict no no at most daycares and schools (no go on the almond or cashew milk) - I did my research and found that coconut milk is a great alternative to whole milk once you've made the switch post-1 year check up (keep on the dairy-free formula until then). You can still purchase in large containers that you can keep in your fridge, and most restaurants and Starbucks have it in stock if you need some on the go while out & about.

The only caveat I'd add is that there are some versions filled with sugar for flavoring. Obviously, we try to avoid the mass amounts of sugar in something that is consumed so often throughout the day (I don't need Tot jumping off the wall from 7AM - 7PM). I typically pick-up the unsweetened version, but any version will do the trick!

Source: Whole Foods

Cheese, Please

I've gone back and forth searching for some vegan cheeses that will melt the same as normal every day cheese. Tot's favorite meals consist of quesadilla, cheese pizza, and grilled cheese. I panicked when I found out we couldn't supplement her diet with dairy any longer since it was such a big food group for us! Turns out - there are plenty of great vegan alternatives filled with wonderful plant-based substitutes that are equally plentiful and filling for Tot as the original. They come in slices, shredded or blocks - it really is up to you.

Source: Daiya Foods

Yo-Yo Yogurt

As I started to brainstorm all the normal dairy filled things Tot couldn't have, I realized how much I relied on yogurt as a simple and nutritious snack for her with fresh fruit throughout the day. Luckily, there are some amazing cashew and almond milk replacement that taste just as good, if not better than milk-based yogurt. Throw in some fresh blueberries and granola and you've got a snack the whole family can share!

Source: Cashewgurt

Butter Me Up!

You know from my posts that I'm a southern belle in disguise. I love to bake anything and everything. I didn't want to stop letting Tot indulge in my baked goods because that's such a big part of our weekends - Mama baking and little one taste testing. And, I didn't want to force this healthy'ish lifestyle on anyone, but we've found few simple baking tricks that have really helped include Tot in these mommy & me activities and they taste just as good.

Switch out butter for this equally tasty spread..

Source: Buttery Spread

Instead of eggs, throw in a couple teaspoons of this replacement with water and voila!

Source: Neat Egg

And, for those days you just don't feel like baking, Whole Foods has you covered Mama.

Focusing on plant-based goods isn't for everyone and I'm not going to preach to you wonderful Mama's that you should consider this for yourselves or your little ones. Certainly not! But, for those of you who are tackling allergies that you just can't seem to get a hold of or need a personal dietary refresh, it could be the alternative you're looking for. And, make it your own - pick and choose what of the vegan diet you want to engage in and what aspects don't fit your current needs. Little ones deserve to taste every little thing they set their sights on. I won't restrict Tot from anything - that's the beauty of being a kid. Well, as long as it's dairy free because this Mama can't handle that mess (TMI, I know).

Are any of you Mama's battling any allergies or tried a plant-based lifestyle before? Hit me up below with any words of wisdom!
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