Sunday, November 18, 2012

Things You Find When You Read The New York Times

The other day, I was eating my breakfast - a bowl of cereal with Lactose-free milk, naturally - and reading my New York Times, when I stumbled upon an article that was very, very interesting to dairy-free me.  I just knew I had to share the report with everyone else who suffers from lactose intolerance.  (And with those of you who have just stumbled across my blog, while looking for a photo of a cow on the internet.  sigh)

The article had almost nothing to do with lactose intolerance  - it was about how Sam Adams beer founder, Jim Koch, was helping new small-business owners in Boston, fine-tune their products and find success in the business world.  The NYT reporter interviewed one such small-business owner, a bakery owner named Carlene O'Garro, who was interested in starting a whole-sale business selling non-dairy cheesecakes.

See where I'm going with this?  See how my interest was immediately peaked?  Understand why I almost chocked on my lactose-free milk?

Non-dairy cheesecakes!?!  Yes, please!  Now that's one small-business idea, I could gladly get behind.

Want to read the New York Times article for yourself?

Here's the link

The article was a tad disappointing from a lactose intolerant's perspective.  It doesn't look like I'm going to find these wonderful-looking, dairy-free cheesecakes at my local Whole Foods Market any time soon.  The powers to be at the Sam Adams seminar encouraged the baker, Carlene O'Garro, to try distributing the cakes to local colleges and cafeterias instead of supermarkets.  Perhaps great advice for Ms. O'Garro and all cafeteria-bound, dairy-free, college students in the Boston area, but pretty miserable advice for those of us post-graduate, lactose intolerant cheesecake-lovers.  Maybe the college students and cafeterias will be such a hit that Ms. O'Garro will eventually be forced to sell her dairy-free cheesecakes at grocery stores, too?

We can only dream.

In the meantime, Ms. O'Garro has a website:

It doesn't mention dairy-free items or even those wonderful-looking dairy-free cheesecakes, but maybe they could be made to order.

In any case, I applaud all lactose free bakers and so I applaud Carlene O'Garro of Delectable Desires.  Well done, Carlene O'Garro.  And thank you!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Lactose Intolerance Master List

If you were to go on the internet to try to find a comprehensive list of foods that a Lactose Intolerant person could or could not eat, you would search for hours without finding any information whatsoever. The frustrating fact is that lactose intolerance affects people in different ways and what foods bother me might be quite fine for my lactose intolerant neighbor.

For instance, I can eat most cheeses except for those that are very runny - like ricotta and cottage cheese.  I am also lucky enough to be able to tolerate small amounts of butter.  However, give me an ice cream cone or a butter-cream frosting made with regular milk, I'm doubled over in pain in minutes and in full-fledged agony seconds later.

One of my friends' husbands is lactose intolerant as well, and while he can't eat butter, milk or runny cheeses, he has no problem consuming whip cream.  Go figure!  I did a blog post (Click here to read) about a wonderful lactose-free yogurt I discovered and I was pleasantly pleased when the company posted my review on their Facebook page (click here if you want to see that facebook post!) along with my recipe for yogurt/zucchini pasta.  I was not surprised to see that they did warn lactose-intolerant readers to be wary of the fact that I included cheddar cheese in my recipe.

I can eat cheddar cheese, but some other lactose intolerant might not.  It's a puzzle that takes one bad experience to solve.

So I am starting a Master List of Foods For The Lactose Intolerant and maybe make some poor person's internet search a little easier.

Dairy Foods Acceptable for Lactose Intolerant People:

Most hard cheese, up to and sometimes including Mozzarella (as long as it is not milky)
Small amounts of butter
Sour cream if cooked into a Bundt cake
Lactose-free milk
Lactose-free yogurts (I recommend this brand)

Dairy Foods To Avoid Like The Plague If You Are Lactose Intolerant:

"Soft" cheeses like ricotta, cream cheese, cottage cheese etc
Large amounts of butter
Sour cream
All regular milks
All regular yogurts - cups or tubers
Heavy Cream - half & half, whipping
Butter milk
Cheese cakes
Butter cream frosting of any sort unless made with lactose-free milk
Cream cheese frosting
Sour cream-based veggie dips
Mousse  or puddings

Foods I'm Just Unsure Of:

Condensed milk - I can eat this when it's baked into Seven-Layer cookies
Brie cheese - I've had some successes

Feel free to leave me a comment and I'll add to any of the lists!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Regrets - Lactose Intolerant Style

My sister cut out the above cartoon from her New Yorker Magazine for me.  After I had stopped chuckling and composed myself, I realized that the cartoon really hits very close to my home.  If only time travel was possible, life with lactose intolerance would be so much easier to deal with.  Sometimes, I wish that all food would come with ingredient lists -including meals in restaurants.  Lactose intolerance is such an imprecise ailment and types of food that I eat successfully at one establishment might prove deadly at another.  A future Martha, whose entire purpose was to travel back in time and warn me of various impending lactose intolerant dangers, would be absolutely lovely.  No more worrying over ingredients, no more trying to explain lactose intolerant to wait-people who could really care less about my stomach issues, no more choosing a plainer entree over a more decadent & potentially cream-filled choice....  ah the joy!

Time travel is probably a long time in the future, so instead I stick to places and recipes that I have previously determined to be safe.  I have to be my own time-travelling advocate.  It's the only way.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Problem With Lactaid

Over the years, I've had hundreds of people ask me why, when encountering food that has too much dairy for my lactose intolerant stomach to handle, I don't just take a Lactaid tablet and soldier on.

If only lactose intolerance was so easy.

There was a time when I used Lactaid tablets frequently and carried around a tube of chewable Lactaid pills in my purse, but I don't bother anymore.  Lactaid Pills were like a bad boyfriend who treated me horribly one night and wonderfully the next.  It took me a few years of lactose intolerant-focused abuse before I matured enough to dump those Lactaid Pills and forced myself to stick to a dairy-free diet instead.

Lactaid tablets are not the Knight in Shining Armor that they are advertised to be, and I learned the hard way that they don't always work (for me, I should add).  Part of the problem was the packaging which used to read "chew one or two tablets before eating dairy food." (I'm paraphrasing, of course.)  I tried taking one Lactaid tablet and had no success eating the ice cream cone.  The next time, I tried two tablets with only slightly better results.  I think my lactose intolerance is worse than the two tablet maximum dictated by the Lactaid package.  It became obvious very quickly that two Lactaid tablets only worked fifty-percent of the time and the fifty-percent of time when they DIDN'T work was so agonizingly bad that they weren't worth the successful times.

So I don't bother with Lactaid anymore.  For the same reason I gave up chocolate mousse and bakery-made butter-cream frosting, I gave up trying to eat ice cream cones by chewing a Lactaid tablet before I began.  I am a firm believer in the old adage "Fool me once, shame on you;  Fool me twice, shame on me."  And besides, there's dairy-free ice-"cream" now.  So, HA! Lactaid.  I am in a new, kinder, gentler, lactose-free relationship and I'm pretty sure it's going to last for the long haul!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Could It Be True?

I was picking up my daughter from a birthday party the other day, when I was offered a piece of birthday cake, which I refused because of the obvious whip-cream frosting and my wretched lactose intolerance.

A woman who I had been talking to when the slice of luscious cake was offered, noticed the sad look on my face when the dessert left my sight and asked why I had refused something which I had so obviously wanted.  I told her about being lactose intolerant and how that meant that I had to say no to cream-based desserts.

And that's when she told me that her husband too is lactose intolerant but that he had learned that whip cream does not cause any symptoms!  Apparently, the sugars in dairy which cause lactose intolerance are missing in heavy cream.

I rushed home and did some internet sleuthing but I don't see anything which supports this woman's claim.

Does anyone have any idea about whether or not whip cream is indeed a food that lactose intolerant people can consume without fear or painful incident?

Let me know!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Praise For The Intercontinental Hotel

Last Friday night, my husband and I went to a fund-raising gala at the Intercontinental Hotel in Boston.  Fund-raising dinners are notoriously famous for rubbery chicken dishes and bland, unimaginative sides.  I'm willing to admit that hotel caterers do the best they can with these mass-produced and unimaginative meals.  If you dissect what's on your plate, you'll find tons of flavor-enhancing butter, cream and milk.  Great, right?  Wrong.  These same ingredients - so beloved for their wonderful taste - turn an already blah dinner into a lactose intolerant's worse nightmare.  I've found myself staring down at an unappetizing, cream-filled plate more times that I care to count, which is why I contemplated eating a homemade, lactose-free dinner at my house before I left for the event.

But on this occasion, I'm so glad that I didn't!  The Intercontinental catering staff out did itself.  Get out the word, oh lactose intolerant internet readers!  The Intercontinental is the place to go for your fund-raising gala needs!

Unbeknownst to me, when Gordy filled out the form for our dinner, there was a section about food issues and he was able to alert the staff to my problems with dairy ahead of time.  When he and I sat down to dinner, I found that the salad at my place was creamy-dressing free and I found a wonderfully attentive waiter standing by my seat, with a handful of papers detailing all the ingredients in the meal.  I've been to plenty of these hotel functions and I've never, EVER received this kind of treatment.  I felt like a Princess - a lactose-free Princess, that is.

My waiter didn't miss a beat.  He helped me chose between the chicken and the vegetarian dish, answered all my questions about hidden cream, cheese and butter and made sure that the correct dish arrived in front of me when dinner time arrived.   It was truly a lactose-free miracle.

But the miracle didn't end there.... dessert arrived.  I had read on my menu card that the dessert was a trio of cheese cakes, creme brule and chocolate mousse.  In other words:  no, nope and absolutely not.  I figured I would just pass on dessert.  Plates were delivered and my waiter appeared once again holding a special dessert just for me!  A glorious fruit plate displayed almost exactly as my my cream-filled neighbors.

Now, normally, I wouldn't be making much fuss over a fruit plate.  Fruit, after all, is part of a meal and not really dessert, but this particular fruit plate touched me greatly.  I was thrilled to have something sweet to eat while every one around me dug into their delicious-looking cheese cakes.  I was joyous that the lactose intolerant were being given the equality that we deserve.

Hooray for the Intercontinental Hotel!  Good job!  You are lactose intolerant friendly and I appreciate it!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Living With The Lactose Intolerant

After reading all about my woes as a lactose intolerant person, you must feel tremendous pity for my husband.  After all, his house is completely devoid of ice cream, he can't go into bakeries, his wife is a pain in the neck at dinner parties, she brings home strange tofu-based, "dairy-free" products to fill his refrigerator..... sounds like a real drag, huh?

Well, you're wrong.  It just so happens that my husband is allergic to dairy.

I know!  What are the odds?

What's even more amazing is that he's also allergic to all seafood and I HATE fish!  We are the perfect pair.

Having a husband with actual allergic reactions to foods that I can't - or won't - eat, lifts an enormous burden off my shoulders.  When we are planning to eat out with friends, I can always use My Wonderful Allergic Husband as an excuse to stay away from ice cream places or seafood restaurants.  When we are dining at a friend's home, I have the perfect reason to request that dairy and fish be avoided when my host is preparing the meal.

Now, of course, as a lactose intolerant person, I know that I have the right to ask that dairy be avoided anyway, and that my friends should understand why I'm asking, but as I've mentioned here, there are more than a few people out there who do not understand lactose intolerance or could really care less about it's effects on my stomach.

Allergic reactions, on the other hand, are taken much more seriously in this world.  I do think things are changing, however.  Just look at how many lactose-free items can be found in grocery stores now and other specialty foods like gluten-free and nut-free items are becoming more common place.

I may be the only lactose intolerant person in my circle of friends, but there are more people like me out there.... somewhere!  Right?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Butter Cream Dreams

There is very little that pleases me as much as a bakery.  I love all cakes and pastries.  When I was growing up in suburban New Jersey, we had a bakery right in my town that I would visit each week on my way to choir practice.  Once inside it's fragrant room, I would slowly peruse the racks, admiring the chocolate boxes, the eclairs, the tollhouse cookies, the crumb buns.... whatever delicacy that caught my eye that day, I was able to purchase and eat.

Um, Martha,  you ask?   Where was all this money coming from?  I have really no idea.  Allowance?  Birthday savings?  And where were my parents while I was making these face-stuffing, fatty purchases?  I haven't any clue because I've blocked out all the details except the pastries.  (okay, I can answer that last question - it was the 1980's and kids walked places by themselves and my parents have a healthy appreciation for a bakery, themselves.)

Oh, how I love a bakery!

Oh, how I love a pastry!

Oh, how I miss them both!

It's a completely different experience going into a Bakery, now that I am lactose intolerant.  Bakeries - once a source of such joy and pleasure - are now evil torture chambers from Hell.  I'm okay with small amounts of butter, so I can have a puff pastry item or a pie, but my beloved butter cream frosted cakes, chocolate boxes, napoleons and eclairs are completely out of the picture.

There is nothing so depressing as a fruit pie when there are chocolate mousse cakes being offered.  Especially once you realize that you can't eat said fruit pie with a generous dollop of whipped cream on top.

Lactose Intolerance - you really take all the fun out of eating!

I have learned to compensate for my body's bakery ban.  I make cakes at home and I choose recipes without milk or heavy cream.  I make my own butter cream frosting using Lactaid milk, but it's not the same as buying a beautiful cake from the bakery and eating a thick wedge for dessert (or dinner, if we are really being honest).

So I ask you, if you live in Massachusetts and are looking to start a business.... would you consider opening a lactose-free bakery?  You would be guaranteed at least one, very loyal customer!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Marry Me Bars: My Constant Obsession

I am not a huge fan of ice cream.  Even before my lactose intolerance reared it's ugly head, I never craved ice cream or ordered a dish of vanilla for dessert at a restaurant.  I did enjoy walking into town, as a youngster, and getting a clown cone at Baskin Robbins, but  I suspect that it really was the icing clown buttons I was actually after.

Of all the foods I had to give up when I became lactose intolerant, ice cream was the least difficult to say good-bye to.   Bakery-made butter cream frosting, on the other hand?  I'm still broken hearted about that one.

I do love desserts, though, and I always scan the freezer aisles of my local grocery store in search of lactose-free products.   I feel it is my lactose intolerant duty to support as many lactose-free businesses as I can.  When I discovered Tofutti Marry Me bars and their cousins the Tofutti Cutie, I had to give them a try.  It's a tough job to sample desserts all the time, but it's mine and I take my jobs very seriously.

That first exposure to Tofutti products was years ago, and yet I remain a faithful Toffuti customer.  The Marry Me bars are probably my favorite.  They are simply amazing.  The chocolate is dark and smooth and the "ice cream" is vanilla-y and creamy.  It's the lactose-free answer to the Dove Bar and it pleases me to no end to be able to enjoy a frozen novelty from time to time, without fear of debilitating pain.

Tofutti Cuties (ice cream sandwiches) are delicious as well.  I particularly like their small size which is perfect for small children who need very little additional sugar.  If you were to open my freezer, you would be certain to find a box or two of the Cuties waiting to be eaten.  

But my latest Tofutti obsession?  The New Yours Truly cones.  Lord a mercy!  An ice cream cone filled with solid chocolate?  A lump of dairy-free ice "cream" on the top?  Covered in chocolate and crunchies?  What's not to love about that!

So good job, Tofutti company!  The lactose intolerant solute you!

(and thank you, too)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Lactose-Free Yogurts: A Joyous Discovery

I was walking down the dairy aisle of my local Whole Foods Market when I stumbled across the most amazing thing:

Lactose-free yogurts!!!  And they are even organic!  

I can not tell you the last time I had yogurt.... but I would put money on the fact that while I spooned it into my mouth,  I was wearing an Ally McBeal short skirt and a large blazer with shoulder pads.  Lactose-free items are starting to mainstream and I couldn't be happier or any more relieved.  One of my favorite recipes calls for a tub of plain yogurt and because of my lactose intolerance, I haven't been able to make it in years.  

I went to the Green Valley Organics website (click here to visit their site yourself) and found out that they also make Kefir drinks and lactose-free sour cream.  Their motto is No Lactose, No Worries.  

How marvelous is that!?!

But how did Green Valley Organics Lactose-Free Yogurt taste?  Like yogurt! 

And I am truly in yogurt heaven!

Zucchini with Yogurt and Fettuccine

One box of dried fettuccine 
1 small container of plain Green Valley Organics Lactose-Free yogurt
4 large zucchinis 
small amount of olive oil
1 tsp of chopped garlic
1 tsp of dried basil
1/2 block of grated cheddar cheese

Cook fettuccine according to package
Using a vegetable peeler, peel zucchini into long strips and place into skillet, along with olive oil, garlic & basil
heat skillet and cook zucchini until warm and slightly limp (4-5 minutes)
drain pasta but return to pot
coat pasta with entire yogurt container
plate servings of pasta and sprinkle with grated cheese and healthy amount of zucchini mixture

Eat & Enjoy!

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