Italian Cooking & Language Blog

Fare La Scarpetta means to wipe your plate clean with a piece of bread.

What else could you ask for?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Lactose-Free Living

Like our recent gluten-free diet trial, I tried eating lactose-free for about two weeks in order to better answer friends questions about lactose-free dishes. And much like the earlier diet, it was initially quite difficult (no mozzarella? no ricotta? what?) and then eventually became easier. 

I often start my day with a milk, yogurt and fruit smoothie (usually with some flax seed meal, chia seeds or wheat germ thrown in). Instead of the milk and yogurt, I used bananas (a great thickener, as are chia seeds) and juice (orange and Trader Joe's lemon ginger echinacea mixed juices were favorites) with the fruit.

Lunch was the trickiest. I often pack my husband a sandwich and make one for myself working at home. And those sandwiches always have cheese. To eliminate the cheese, I tried some of these combinations, which were great, on whole grain bread:
hummus and tomato
meat (cured sandwich meat or leftover chicken, beef or pork) and avocado
roasted vegetables and avocado
egg salad
tuna salad (with olive oil, mustard and capers instead of mayo)

For dinner, many Asian (Chinese stir fries, meat or vegetable dumplings, noodle dishes, Indian curries, etc.) are naturally lactose free. It was easy to make a traditional American dish of meat and potatoes without milk products, but when it came to Italian pasta dishes, I needed to replace the cheese. I found that nuts offered a similar taste and texture to cheeses. I sprinkled some toasted pine nuts on pasta with a marinara sauce and prepared risotto with thyme, mushrooms and crushed walnuts. We also had roasted fish (olive oil, white wine, garlic, lemon juice and a few tomato slices) with brown rice and vegetables sautéed in garlic.

I generally cook everything with olive oil instead of butter, so that wasn't tricky. For dessert, we tried fruit or rice/soy ice cream. I was really taken with Rice Dream Bites (rice dream ice cream covered in a hard chocolate shell.)

For more information and recipes, try Whole Foods' guide and Livestrong's guide to eating dairy free.

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