Thursday, February 17, 2011
With just a little over 2 weeks to go until we cross the ditch, I thought it was about time I shared a little about the gluten and dairy-free products available in New Zealand, that have helped me out so much over the past few years. There are a lot of "gluten-free" products out there these days and it's really hard to know firstly which ones taste nice, and don't resemble crumbly cardboard, and secondly which ones are worth spending your hard earned money on (because lets face it, most gluten-free foods are damn expensive!). The same goes for "dairy-free" products, some don't taste nice at all, most are expensive and some, that you would've thought we're dairy-free (like most margarine's) actually contain milk products??! And well, if you happen to be both gluten and dairy-free like we once were, strictly, things just get a little confusing at times. Take most "soy ice creams" for example. Dairy-free, yes. But most contain gluten. Go figure. So here's a list of products that we couldn't do without in New Zealand, and ones that I hope I can still find most of in Perth. Before anyone asks, no I haven't been sponsored by these companies to promote their products (although that would be lovely), so rest assured, these are my genuine favourite gluten & dairy-free NZ goodies...
Dovedale rice chia bread
"new to gluten or dairy-free" page, I tend to make extra at dinner time, and eat leftovers for lunch, thus saving me from resorting to filling up on bread at lunch.
I tend to use rice milk mostly; on cereal, in porridge, and in baking. I only use soy milk in the occasional cup of tea/chai and a little in baking. When I weaned both my kids at around 18 months old, they went straight onto the protein enriched rice-milk (enriched with chickpeas), as I don't feel soy is that good in large quantities and formula just grosses me out. Lots of other soy and rice-milk brands not only taste yuk in my humble opinion, but they also contain lots of added nasties. Check the labels of some of the other cheaper brands and you will find... stabilisers, emulsifiers, acidity regulator, added sugar and flavourings. No thanks.
Possibly the most important product (to me anyway!) and one that I'm not sure I could completely live without (although believe it or not, I did do without chocolate for over a year, while breastfeeding Kye). Most cheap chocolates contain milk solids, even the ones that claim to be "dark chocolate". Whittaker's dark chocolates are all dairy-free. Don't confuse "cocoa butter" with actual dairy butter, it's not. My favourite eating chocolate is the dark cacao 62% and I tend to use the dark Ghana 72% for cooking. Yum. If you are super, super allergic to dairy however, it is made in the same factory as milk chocolate, so take care.
Trade aid dark chocolate
I was unable to get a picture of this chocolate, but it is by far, my favourite chocolate to eat. It comes in 48% cocoa content which is lovely to eat. I especially love the 50g bars, perfect for a little treat, without running the risk of eating a whole 200g block! You can also buy organic dark chocolate 70% 100g bar, which also comes in dark chocolate with orange, peppermint crisp or almond. Yum yum. Gluten, dairy and GM free. And fair trade of course.
While most hot chocolate mixes contain milk powder, this one doesn't. Just pure organic cocoa powder, sugar and spices. The chilli and black pepper hit is perfect. I make it using soy milk for a dairy-free treat.
Olivano dairy-free margarine
You wouldn't be silly for assuming that all margarine's are dairy-free, but here's the thing... 99% of them still contain milk solids. I kind of don't get the point of a margarine containing dairy products myself? I'd rather just eat 100% natural butter. But when we needed to be 100% dairy-free this is the margarine we used. It's dairy-free and as natural as margarine can get in my books. I was brought up eating butter and taught to hate margarine, so this was a big one for me to get over when we were strictly dairy-free. It does contain preservatives, which I don't like one bit. But the few other dairy-free ones contain a whole lot more nasties than that. Rice-bran margarine is okay too, but only the "lite" one is dairy-free and for the difference in price I rather go for Olivani.
We don't buy these products anymore, but we used to buy them all the time when the kids and I weren't eating regular yoghurt. By far the nicest soy yoghurt in my opinion. The cream cheese is a little sweeter than regular dairy cream cheese, but hey, if you gotta have it, it will do.
More than any other dairy-free yoghurt, this milk kefir was my Savior when we were strictly lactose-free. We went about a year without any dairy what-so-ever. Then I found out about this amazing "grain" called Kefir. You simply place the grains into a glass jar of milk, leave for approx 24 hours, then taada, lactose-free pro biotic drinking yoghurt or thick yoghurt depending on how long you ferment it for. The taste is a lot sourer than most regular yoghurt, with a slight fizz. My kids didn't know anything other than this until about 6 months ago when we reintroduced regular yoghurt. They still like it and lovingly call it "figgy"!? Maybe what they meant to call it was "fizzy"? :-) If you find the flavour too full-on, it's also great to add to smoothies where its flavour is easily disguised with a few bananas and a handful of frozen berries. We also have water kefir; it's the prefect answer to those of you who may be strictly dairy-free as opposed to just lactose-free and still want to get the goodness that pro biotic offer, great for vegans too. Made using water, organic sugar and a few raisins, the end result is a lightly carbonated, sweet almost apple-cider flavoured pro biotic drink.
Even now that we are not strictly dairy-free, I do still try to keep our lactose levels as low as possible without obsessing. I was stoked to find awhile back that easiyo do a low lactose yoghurt sachet now. It's great and tastes just like regular.
real foods corn thins, organic sesame
We go through so many of these in our house it's just not funny! My kids should be known as the "cracker kids", especially Kye. He likes to eat all day, and more times than not this is what he asks for as a snack. Pam's rice plain rice crackers are great too.
As kids this is the ice cream my "alternative" parents would buy for us (I was going to call them hippies, because to me that's what they were, but they'd disagree. We were brought up vegetarian, grew our own vegetables, lived in a wooden house my dad built, he made handmade shoes for a living, while my mum made 99% of our clothes for us... hippies, I think so). I still love it. It is the only gluten and dairy-free ice cream that I know of in NZ. I don't buy it often, but I tell you, I am the most loved person in the house when I do!
I don't tend to eat a whole lot of pasta, never have. Lucky for me I guess as I know this is the hardest thing for most to "replace" when going gluten-free. My first encounter with gluten-free pasta's was not a good one. The pasta basically disintegrated into the water, leaving me with a pot of sticky muck and starchy water. Yuk. San remo pasta to me tastes as good as wheat pasta and cooks up exactly the same. This is what I buy 9 times out of 10. It is stocked at most leading supermarkets too, making it easy to find.
Along with the San remo pasta this is the only other gluten-free pasta I would bother spending my money on. The one I buy is actually a penne pasta but I couldn't find an image of that one. This one has the added bonus of the high protein quinoa tastes great and is pretty affordable, really. It may seem a whole lot more to spend than wheat pasta, but you just need to change your way of thinking on that one ;-) We really only eat pasta every other week, if that.
So there you have it. All the products we use to make life just that much easier! As you will have probably noticed there isn't a "cheese" alternative included in my list. When we were strictly lactose-free, we just didn't eat cheese full-stop. For some families this will be hard work I know, especially if you go lactose/dairy-free once your kids have already learnt to love cheese. There are a few "soy cheese's" out there on the market, but for the price you pay, I really couldn't make myself go there. If you are desperate, search for sheep's milk products, buffalo mozzarella and goats milk products which have naturally lower lactose levels than dairy. Everyone is different though and while some will tolerate these products others won't, so you'd have to just try them out and see.
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