The Dairy-Free Road...



The little that started my dairy-free life...

Let's start with a dose of honesty... I love dairy. I wish I didn't, but I do. A perfect meal for me is a loaf of fresh crusty bread and a plate of cheeses from around the world. Not exactly the best thing for you, but it's heaven for me. Tea with milk, coffee with cream, these are my happy things.


But then my daughter was born.... She was born at home, super healthy, gained a pound in her first 2 weeks and nursed around the clock. But she also had the worst reflux I had ever seen. She would projectile vomit across the room after a feed. It would seem impossible that anything she had eaten was staying in. She continued to gain weight though, so no one was concerned. We had this crazy routine of feeding her, then putting her in her bouncy chair or propped up on her boppy and giving her a pacifier in an attempt to keep her milk in. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. This was a load of craziness, but as a first-time mom, I didn't know what else to do. She had gas. She would only sleep while being worn. I felt that I was most certainly doing something wrong.


At about 2 months old I cut out dairy for about 2 weeks on someone's suggestion but her reflux didn't go away so I assumed it wasn't that. Little did I know that dairy can take upwards of 4 weeks to exit your system! So around 4 months post-partum I cut it out again, but this time I waited the full 4 weeks, and just like that, the projectile vomit stopped, the crazy gas went away and we seemed to be off to a much better new start. And while she nursed til just after 15 months old, she out-grew her dairy allergy at almost exactly a year old. I won't lie, after that we were right back on the dairy train, and it was a blip of heaven.


And then my son was born just 25 months after my daughter.


Just moments after my son was born... his poor head was asynclitic so the moulding of his head is a little severe in this picture.


My sweet son was aggressively tongue and lip tied at birth and couldn't latch at all. I pumped and spoon fed him for the first week of his life as we went through the revision procedure and worked with a lactation consultant and a chiropractor to get him nursing. More on this topic to come. Regardless, I was so focused on getting him eating that I didn't really focus on what I was eating. And he seemed really good once he got going. And then we introduced solids at about 7-8 months and then he discovered "cheese sticks" or "string cheese".. He was obsessed. However, his super mild-at-the-time eczema went crazy! So we were back to no dairy. His eczema to this day is pretty bad but we manage with a dairy free lifestyle, lots of lotion and probiotics.



You can see here that his head is very normal now and he's the cutest blondest baby boy ever!

But now to why you're probably here.... recipes... I promised #dairyfree recipes! This particular one is both dairy and gluten free and I will even (though not pictured) post #vegan options. One of my favorite things is taking recipes that I love and then making a version that is just as good, but also something that me and my son can eat. And since I have a lot of vegan and vegetarian friends, I also like to make things accessible to them!



Braised Duck Legs with Fennel and Green Olives, served over mashed potatoes

(serves 6-8)

What you need:

6 duck leg quarters (so the leg and thigh), you can substitute chicken for a far cheaper option or 4 zuchinni for my meat-free friends

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 stalks of celery, finely chopped

2 carrots, diced

1 large head of fennel, bottom sliced off and cut into 8ths

2-3 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped

1 bay leaf

1 sprig fresh thyme (optional)

1-2 C white wine

1 14oz can of organic diced tomatos

3 C. chicken broth (sub veggie broth for vegan and reduce quantity by 1 C)

1 jar or can of pitted green olives

Salt and Pepper


For the Potatoes:

8-10 small to medium golden potatoes peeled and cubed

1/8c raw cashew pieces soaked for 30 minutes in 1C warm chicken or veggie broth

Salt and Pepper

Olive Oil or vegan butter


My veggies and herbs all ready to go!

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Bring the duck legs up to room temp, pat dry with a paper towel, then place on a cooling rack over a rimmed cookie sheet. Salt and pepper both sides but leave them with the skin side up when finished. Place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes until skin is lightly golden brown and some of the fat has cooked off.


(Vegans, simply cut your zucchini in half width wise, then into quarters, so each zucchini becomes 8 spears. Do not roast)


The duck legs prepped for the oven

The roasted duck legs out of the oven

2. In a large pot or dutch oven heat your olive oil on high, then add your fennel laying flat on their sides. Turn them once they have just barely started to carmelize. (Vegans, add your zucchini at this point)



3. Now add your onions, carrots, and celery and stir with a bit of salt and pepper until just starting to carmelize.


4. Add your garlic, bay leaf and the sprig of thyme if using. I love fresh herbs and use them as often as I can and normally have them growing in my garden. Dry will be fine too, or omit altogether. Stir until the garlic becomes fragrant.



5. Now add your tomatoes. Stir in and let reduce until all the liquid has evaporated.



6. Add your wine. I said use white wine, but to be totally honest I used a dry rose because it's what I had open from yesterday. This is also pretty good with a red wine, so really, whatever you have. Just make sure it's dry. Reduce by half.


7. Now place your duck in the resulting sauce with the bones sticking up, then add in your olives then cover the meat with broth. You may have some left, that's okay. (My vegan friends... you may not need to add much broth, maybe just a cup, then reduce at a boil for about 15 minutes! You are DONE! Simply spoon this deliciousness over your mashed potatoes)



8. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes while you make potatoes.


9. Uncover and let the sauce reduce for about 15 minutes, then spoon some mashed potatoes into a wide bowl, top with a duck leg and spoon on the sauce and veggies. Enjoy!




FOR THE POTATOES:


1. Peel your potatoes, and chop them into 1 in cubes or there about. Place them in a pot of water and add at least a teaspoon of salt (ALWAYS salt your water when blanching or cooking vegetables. It makes them taste so much better)


2. Boil until soft.


3. In your high powered blender (I use a Vitamix. Yes, it's worth it when you've gone dairy free. Nut milks are my life!) put your 1/8-1/4c of raw cashew pieces in along with 1 C broth. If you haven't already soaked them thusly, that's okay, if your blender is good you should still be able to acquire the desired consistency.


4. Blend on high for 3-5 minutes.


5. Strain your potatoes reserving 1 C. of the liquid.


6. Put the potatoes back in the pot you cooked them in. Add half of your cashew "milk" and mash. Adding more of the "milk" as needed, salt and pepper, maybe some garlic powder if you like garlicky mashed potatoes. If your potatoes are still very dry, add in some of the reserved potato water.


We love these mashed potatoes and regularly use leftovers for potato pancakes or just a yummy snack!



I am NOT a food photographer! This is just pictures of actual food that I cooked and we ate, no fancy tricks








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