Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie (no one will know)

There are few things worse than well-meaning people screwing up perfectly good recipes, trying to make them “safe” for someone with a food allergy–but not knowing how.

We’re talking vanilla-flavored coconut milk in “dairy-free mashed potatoes” (whyyyyyy?!?!)

If a food doesn’t taste good to someone without the food allergy, you know it doesn’t taste good for the person with the allergy, either. 

So don’t do that.

Especially not to pie.

There’s no need.

You can make a perfectly good pumpkin pie without any dairy, and no one will know.

Here’s how:

dairy-free pumpkin pie.

dairy-free pumpkin pie.

Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie Recipe

1.5cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned coconut milk ( Taste of Thai)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2TBSP Earth Balance Soy- free, Dairy-free shortening ( or coconut oil)
1/2 cup HOT canned coconut milk
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
one 9″ pie shell (below)

Combine pumpkin, corn syrup, eggs and 1/2 cup coconut milk.

Stir shortening into 1/2 cup hot coconut milk ( heating 40 sec in microwave is fine)

Combine brown sugar, salt, spices. Mix until well blended.

Combine all three mixtures. Pour into prepared pie plate. Bake in hot oven at 425 for 15 minutes on lowest rack with pie protector to keep edges from burning.  Reduce heat to 350 and bake another 35-45 minutes, until knife inserted comes out ( mostly) clean. Set for two hours before serving. For best results, cool for two hours, then refrigerate overnight before serving.

1.25 flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar
1/3 cup soy- free dairy- free Earth Balance ( or coconut oil)
4 or 5 TBSP ice water

Put several ice cubes in a cup, fill with water, let sit while preparing rest of recipe.

Mix flour, sugar, salt. Cut in shortening with pastry cutter or fork until pea sized balls form. Add one TBSP of ice water at a time, cutting in. Form ball, wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

The Dairy-Free Fridge

One of the most difficult parts of learning about my dairy allergy  (we’re talking anything that comes from udders) was figuring out just what the heck to eat to avoid a reaction. Because, dairy. It’s in everything:

*Taco seasoning (and almost all seasonings)

*Processed meats (used as a texturing agent and not labeled). If it isn’t kosher, or specifically labeled as whey/casein-free, don’t touch it.

*Bouillon (And most pre-made stocks and broths)

* Some enriched flours (enriched with whey…whyyyyyy??)

*Almost all probiotics are grown in dairy before being extracted and combined in other foods

*Just about anything that comes in a box. Or bag. Or wrapper. Or anywhere but your own mixing bowls.

Luckily, (as you know from reading this blog the last several years…) we already ate a lot of whole foods and made most things from scratch, so we could adjust recipes and eat vegan when in doubt. But man, how do you adjust recipes? Which fake milk do you use? What replaces butter, really? Or…cheese?

It’s overwhelming to have to be constantly on-guard for an ingredient that is so common. And to have to explain daily, at any meal that is not at home, that no, you’re not lactose intolerant.

No, you can’t just pop a pill (though you do have an epi pen you could use… which is not at all the same thing)

No, you really can’t just have a little bit.

No, that “non-dairy” margarine, sour cream or coffee creamer is not safe.

No, you can’t eat anything off that cutting board that someone sliced cheese on.

No, non-dairy is not the same as dairy-free.

(“Non-dairy,” like Cool Whip, Coffee Mate and Margarines are low in lactose and totally cool for lactose intolerant folks. Because that’s their customer base. However, “non dairy” products can and often do still contain whey and casein–dairy proteins– which cause the allergic reaction)

So, if you’re new to dairy-free living, first check out this blog: http://www.godairyfree.org

And then buy these products. Because nothing is worse than trying new allergy-friendly alternatives and being disgusted by them. It’s depressing and reminds you that you can’t eat cheese. So save yourself the money and hassle and just buy the good stuff from Day 1.

As always, please check the ingredients on labels before purchasing. Some items are manufactured in different facilities by region and consequently some items that are dairy-free on the West Coast are not in the South, etc. And sometimes companies change recipes…

The good stuff:

Fake Coffee Creamer: So Delicious (any flavor, really.)

You can still have coffee! yay!

You can still have coffee! yay!

Fake Cheese: Diaya. Any flavor.

The provolone is darn good. So is the cheddar. And the Jack. And the mozzarella. It doesn’t smell right, but it melts and tastes good. Just don’t eat it straight. That will be disappointing. Also, don’t even bother with the cream cheese. More on that below.

It melts!

It melts!

Fake Butter: Earth Balance

It comes in soy-free, too.  And if not Earth Balance, then go with plain old organic coconut oil.  Earth balance has a butter flavor that is very nice. Coconut oil is good for you, but lacks that butter flavor.

Tastes like butter, melts like butter, bakes like butter. But it won't send you to the ER like butter.

Tastes like butter, melts like butter, bakes like butter. But it won’t send you to the ER like butter.

Fake Sour Cream: Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream .

Let’s just say it’s not a star attraction, but makes a great supporting character in tacos, etc.

good when it hides under some salsa.

good when it hides under some salsa.

Fake Milk: So Delicious Coconut Milk Original

Works perfectly, flawlessly, in baking. Thai Kitchen canned coconut milk is perfect for high-temp cooking and baking (pumpkin pie, soups).  And Kirkland brand soy milk (Costco/plain flavor) is what we use to make our own ranch dressing. We use the vanilla flavor for chai lattes. Back away from the hemp, rice and almond milks. They’re gross.

Milk? Who needs milk for baking when you've got this?

Milk? Who needs milk for baking when you’ve got this?

Fake Cream Cheese:…

No. There is none. Sorry.

Fake Chocolate Chips: Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks 

oh yeah. You can still have chocolate chip cookies. And S'mores. And chocolate-covered strawberries.

oh yeah. You can still have chocolate chip cookies. And S’mores. And chocolate-covered strawberries.

REAL chocolate (With no dairy!): Endangered Species Bug Bites 

Fake Ice cream: So Delicious/Turtle Mountain.

For real. These, too, can be yours.

For real. These, too, can be yours.

The strawberry is a little wonky, but almost all of the other flavors are damn good.

Fake Yogurt:…

Just, don’t. No. It’s all gross and looks like slime.

Bacon: Beeler’s 

Thank goodness we can still have bacon.

Thank goodness we can still have bacon.

See how it is labeled casein-free? It’s safe.

ProBiotics: Good Belly.

Raw sour kraut and kosher sausage. Yum.

Raw sour kraut and kosher sausage. Yum.

Also, raw sour kraut like Bubbies  or Wildbrine. Or just go straight for the kimchi.

Taco Seasoning: Old El Paso

You can still have Mexican food!

You can still have Mexican food!

It is the only brand we’ve found of pre-packaed taco seasoning that does not have dairy

Chicken and Beef Stocks/Broths: Kitchen Basics

It is the only brand we’ve found that does not have dairy. Of course, you can always make your own.

Chocolate Cake Mix (almost any flavor, actually): Duncan Hines.

Have your pick!

Have your pick!


Pre-made frosting: ditto…Duncan Hines

(oddly, even the “milk chocolate” flavors…which should terrify us for other reasons)

Awesome idea roundup

Here are some of the best food- related ideas I saw online this week.

First, uh…did you know you can cut a melon in a way that won’t leave messes on faces and hands? It’s true.


Second… How ’bout, instead of cooking pasta in one pot, and just dumping veggies on top afterwards, you cook them together in chicken broth, flavoring the pasta with amazingness while also keeping cleanup to just one pot? Include some onion, canned tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano– all the usual suspects plus any extras like red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, toss in a little olive oil, and cook. That’s it.

Cucumber (instead of bread!) Sandwich
This one might actually change my life. What kind of sandwich are you going to try with this? I’m thinking chicken salad. And turkey. And BLT. And turkey BLT with avocado. And tuna salad. And pretty much every possible sandwich except PB&J. Check it out!


Did you see any cool ideas this week? Tell us about them!

RECIPE: Dairy-Free Clam Chowder (my life is complete)

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know my deep love of clam chowder. In fact, the only time I came close to crying when I learned I was allergic to dairy was when I realized that meant I could never have clam chowder again.

Hey, I really like clams. And bacon. And potatoes,celery,onions and carrots.

It was a long, sad, pathetic year before Matt figured out how to make a dairy-free clam chowder that was as good as our old, cream and butter- filled recipe. I knew there was a reason I married him.

We had a few misses and some “something’s missing” versions before getting it right.

And this recipe is right. So, so right.

The only thing that will tell anyone eating it that it’s missing dairy? The color isn’t quite white. Not even close. But one spoonful and no one will care.

AMAZING Dairy Free Clam Chowder

half pound bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces (if you are allergic to dairy, be sure to purchase either locally processed bacon or bacon labeled “casein free”)
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
2 carrots, chopped
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock (if you are allergic to dairy, be aware that chicken stock, bullion and base almost always contain dairy. The Kitchen Basics brand of stocks and broth is safe. Or just ake you own veggie stock and use that)
2 (10 ounce) cans chopped clams in juice (strain out clams, reserve juice)*
1 cup coconut milk (use canned coconut milk, like Taste of Thai)
2 bay leaves
1 pound baby red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Red wine vinegar to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

In a cast iron skillet or French oven, cook bacon until crispy. Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon fat.
In a large pot, heat the reserved 2 tablespoons of bacon fat over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots and saute until softened.
Stir in the flour. Stir for a minute so flour heats through.
Add the chicken stock, the juice from the clams (reserve clams for step 7), coconut milk, bay leaves, and potatoes. Stir to combine.
Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.
Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until potatoes are tender.
Add clams and bacon, cook 2 more minutes.
Season with vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with sour dough bread.


The 14 most interesting things of the past 14 months

Back to our regularly scheduled blogging

Back to our regularly scheduled blogging

Sorry that took longer than I planned, but I’m back, have a lot of new recipes and stories to share, a lot more energy (more on that later) and a lot of catching up to do… So let’s get to it.

Here are the 14 most interesting things to happen in my life in the last 14 months since closing the blog. Photos coming…

14) I closed this blog because I applied for a job. A job-job. A job working with college journalists again. So, obviously, I didn’t want them to see my personal, me-in-all-my-Anthony Bourdain-lovin’-glory, un-edited and un-spell checked ramblings. But if they wanted my banana bread recipe, that would have been OK.

13) Despite it being a national search, I got the job. And this blog stayed closed. Because ain’t nothing more awkward than some snoopy, cyber-stalky college journalists knowing all about your Anthony Bourdain obsession.

12) So we packed up and moved across the country. With seven hermit crabs.

Being crabby is contagious

Being crabby is contagious

11) And we had two choices for where to live: a college apartment, or a McMansion in the country. We chose the mansion.

10) The mansion was so big we only used two of the floors. Once, as we were walking some friends out through the unused bottom floor and through the garage, a tumbleweed actually crossed in front of us. IN THE GARAGE.
# Truestory

9) The mansion had two jetted tubs. And three fireplaces, one of which was in a bathroom. I knew I wasn’t classy enough to live in a mansion when I couldn’t stop myself from telling people that and then insisting on showing them. I mean, a fireplace in.the.bathroom.

8)Despite the mansion being for sale for six years before we moved in, and being assured it wouldn’t sell while we were there, someone else thought it was beautiful, too, and bought it. We have the magic touch?

7)So we moved again (that’s five times, just since I started this blog). This time, we’re in a downtown industrial loft apartment. ‘Cause that’s the one kind of place we haven’t lived in before.

6) I bought a white couch.

5)My white couch is in my kitchen.


4) Or my kitchen is in my living room. We aren’t sure which.

3) We’re pretty sure the white couch deserves its own blog. Because, white couch.

2) Did I mention we have totally re-learned how to cook and bake according to my crazy dairy allergy? And that I lost 35lbs? And every single health problem I had before is now gone? Don’t worry, we’ll talk more about all that later.

1) and finally… Twelve hours before I was scheduled to have my gallbladder out, Logan ended up having an emergency appendectomy. In the same hospital. With the same anesthesiologists. I told him he cut in line. Since he was wheeled straight from the ER into the OR, and the gown was so big on him, the nurses gave him some XS scrubs to wear after he woke up from surgery. After I got out of surgery, and Matt was sitting by my side, we heard Logan’s little scratchy voice asking for us on the other side of the curtain. With the help of a nurse, he had walked all the way from his hospital room to mine, clear across the hospital, just to check on his mom.

That’s my sweet guy.


And then everything changed

About the same time I “temporarily” closed this blog 14 months ago, I also learned I was allergic to dairy.

Oh. God.

Goodbye cheese.
Goodbye milk.
Goodbye ranch dressing, ice cream, most chocolates and butter.
Goodbye yogurt (yes, even yogurt)
Goodbye store bought bullion and bases and broth.
Goodbye non- kosher meats (seriously.)
Goodbye goat cheese. And sheeps cheese and “moisturizing milk and honey” soap.
Goodbye margarine and sour cream and canned soups.
Goodbye baking and cooking as I knew it.

A lot has happened over the last year, but most importantly, Matt and I have completely relearned how to make food. And make it good. Really good.

So from now on, that’s what you’re gonna find here: dairy-free recipes that taste like you’d expect on this blog.

Dairy-free recipes everyone wants to eat.

I will leave the old ones up, too. Just because I can’t eat them anymore doesn’t mean you can’t. But all the new ones will be completely free of whey and casein.

I’ll update a bit more on the highlights of the last year-plus in a later post…and I promise to write it this week.

How have you been since April 2012? What’s new?

Yeah. Then that happened.

It’s been a busy couple days on the farm.

Logan had his braces put on Monday, only to discover an abscessed tooth… So exactly 2.5hours after getting braces on his lower teeth he was having emergency oral surgery to yank out a tooth that was rotted to the root.

So what did I do in those 2.5 hours? I fed him a milkshake and three cookies.

I was like, ” Here! Eat! All! The! Sugar!”

All! The! Sugar!

EAT IT! ALL! And drink it, too!

This is especially remarkable because I don’t give him sugar. Ever. The kid doesn’t even have boxed cereal or instant oatmeal. The kid hadn’t had a cavity. But now he has an abscessed tooth.

Logan asked if getting his tooth out would feel more like a Tarantula bite or a cobra bite. I told him neither. He said, No, on a scale of tarantula bite to cobra bite, how much will it hurt?

Umm. Here, eat another cookie. I had bought extra and stuffed them in my purse for just these sorts of questions.

Eat your feelings, kiddo.

So I call my awesome boss, explained I won’t be in bc of unforeseen circumstances, and take Logan on to have his procedure where upon looking in the kid’s mouth, our ( beloved) dentist says:

“Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s an emergency” and motions to his assistants to bring all. The. Numbing. Medications.

I’m gonna need more milkshakes and cookies now. Stat.

The tooth was in such gross shape the dentist insisted on putting it in his special Tooth Fairy Priority Same Day Delivery Drop- Box at his office ( aka the bio hazard box)

“oh yeah, we have a very special box for teeth like these”

He told Logan he would attach a note with his address and not to be surprised if the tooth fairy delivered early. Which is of course exactly what happened. Logan got home and almost immediately found $5 under his pillow BEFORE EVEN GOING TO SLEEP! Amazing.

Tooth fairy pays a premium on teeth yanked the same day a kid gets braces, you know.

Logan refused to eat dinner ( for obvious reasons) and woke up for school the next morning in pain but rushing because he really wanted to see his friends. He cried when I told him I was keeping him home until he ate a full meal. Which he thankfully did at lunch.

I took him to school for the last 90 minutes of the day so I could at least have time to clean the house.

I did that. He got home from school and I thought I could finally have a minute to sit down on my couch and thumb through the latest Oprah magazine.

That’s when our Alpaca, Asher, looked in at me on the couch.

…Through our living room window.

And spit on it.

Asher, it would seem, has an opinion of Oprah, and it’s not positive.

I knew at that moment, as only a woman getting side-eye through the living room window from a herd of loose alpacas can know, that my day’s work was actually just beginning. The alpacas had escaped and were about to eat the neighbor’s rose bushes, kick the other neighbor’s dog, and inflict a never-before-imagined plague of biblical proportions on the neighborhood, at a trot of 17 miles per hour.

Luckily, I still had cookies in my purse.