None of the dairy, all of the goodness
Dairy-free recipes - designed for kids with CMPA, good for everyone
Young kids are fussy eaters at the best of times but if they have dietary restrictions and a negative relationship with food from pain associated with eating it can make it really tough to get them all the nutrients they need.
My son (I'll refer to him as 'Little Goat'*) was diagnosed with Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD) when he was 6 weeks old and with Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA) at 4 months. I cut dairy out of my diet after his diagnosis so had something of an introduction to dairy free cooking, but when we started weaning I was scrabbling around for what to feed him and really struggled to find a go-to source for ideas. So I’ve been experimenting with recipes to see what foods are highly nutritious and pass the toddler test.
It wasn’t until I met with our dietitian, who had asked me to keep a food diary for Little Goat and at the end of our session asked for my recipes to share with her other patients, that I realised that so many other people are in the same boat (studies suggest as many as 5% of children have CMPA). So this blog is a way for me to share with others – both those who have kids with dairy-allergies and those who want to get picky eaters to have tasty food that’s good for them. So my principles for this blog are to be:
The recipes are all free of milk but if you don’t have dietary restrictions most of the meals would benefit from the addition of cheese (although that might be almost 2 years of no cheese in my diet speaking!). I try to use ingredients that are easy to get hold of as many of the dairy free recipes out there call for things that you can only find at niche health stores - and grocery shopping already tests Little Goat’s patience to breaking point as it is.
Increasingly many people who develop recipes include suggestions for replacing ingredients to cater for allergies. I'm very grateful that the awareness and consideration of allergies is increasing, but I find these rarely work as well. Cow's milk and milk alternatives are made up of very different compounds and just swapping the one out for the other often has disappointing results. The other problem is that cow's milk has a lot of nutrients that you can't just get by swapping in dairy free alternatives. These recipes have been designed to be dairy free, rich in nutrients and they work!
Quick and Easy
The one thing moms and dads are incredibly short of is time – all of these recipes have been cooked with an impatient toddler at my feet, so most can be done with less than 10 minutes without toddler “help” (this excludes time in the oven, stove-top etc where a stack of blocks and books in the kitchen come in handy!). I also add “convenience tips” at the end of every recipe to try and save a bit of time and give ideas for prepping in advance.
Healthy and Nutritious
I focus calories on food packed with calcium, iron, iodine and vitamins (especially B vitamins)– so I avoid refined sugar which fills up little tummies without any goodness. I try to offer 8 different fruit and vegetables a day – in the hope he’ll try most and eat some! Doing this means offering fruit and veggies at every meal - so just about all of my recipes have fruit and vegetables in them.
Delicious Family Meals
Everything in this blog is designed to be both picky-eater friendly and also something that adults can enjoy. I don’t have the time to cook separate meals and my husband, Stew, and I only like to eat things that Little Goat can eat – this avoids potential cross-contamination in the kitchen but also means we can share meals together. As a result all my portions are either for a hungry mum and toddler at lunch times or a family for dinners.
Finally, there is a lot of misinformation out there about Cow’s Milk Protein Allergies. CMPA is still poorly understood - by the public at large and by many health professionals. I can’t count the number of people I know who have had trouble with getting a diagnosis of CMPA, let alone advice on how to manage it and I personally have had too many instances of conflicting advice from different health professionals. I am not a health professional but I have spent the better part of the last two years reading and researching the ins and outs of managing CMPA and discussing these in detail with my doctor-father. I hope I can add to the growing number of voices out there sharing their experiences for others to learn from. If there's anything you've discovered that's not covered here I'd love to hear from you - you can contact me here.
*If you're curious as to why you can find out here.