I received an email from a reader the other day after my last post, it read:
"As much as it sound delicious, Dairy free it is not, since it has eggs."
I wont lie. I was dumbstruck and sat there starring at the computer screen scratching my head. Really? Dairy-free it is not, since it has eggs.
I thought about it all day long and commented back and forth on facebook, where a good number of you have also come up against similar misconceptions. It seems that many people get confussed by all the allergy-free terms out there and some assume that if you choose to avoid dairy, you also don't eat eggs. I think this is possibly because people mistakingly think that if you don't eat dairy, you must be vegan. And while yes, there are loads of people who are vegan, avoiding all meat, dairy and eggs, there are also people like us who are gluten-free vegetarians that eat very limited amounts of dairy but love eggs... confused? I don't blame you.
To help clarify a few things I thought I'd share my explanations for all the different terms used to describe a person by what they eat, or don't eat. I'm not really one that usually gets into the whole 'title' thing and totally believe that what we eat is such a personal thing that doesn't require a label, but it might help to make things a bit clearer for those struggling to get their head around it all.
dairy-free~ someone who is 'dairy-free' avoids all products that are produced from the milk of cows (and sometime sheep and goats too). This generally means no butter, ghee, milk, yoghurt, ice cream, cream, cheese and any products made using these items. It is interesting to note that true 'dairy' allergies generally only effect people with Asian backgrounds.
casein-free~ for some people it is the milk protein (casein) that they are allergic to. For these people a strict dairy-free diet is required, but they also need to keep a look out for other foods that can contain hidden casein in the form of 'milk solids', 'whey' or 'protein'.
gluten-free~ gluten is the protein found in wheat, barely, and rye. People who have coeliac disease or suffer from gluten intolerance need to avoid all products containing these grains. Some people also avoid oats due to cross-contamination issues and other grains to avoid are kamut and spelt (ancient wheat varieties).
wheat-free~ some people react to wheat but not gluten, so can include barley, rye and oats in their diet and sometimes kamut and spelt (ancient wheat varieties) in small amounts.
egg-free~ people who suffer from egg allergies can be allergic to the protein found in the egg whites and/or the egg yolks. They must avoid all foods containing whole eggs, egg whites or egg yolks depending on their allergies. Some people choose to avoid eggs because of personal beliefs also, see 'vegan/vegetarian' below.
nut-free~ some people react to 'tree nuts', either one in particular or all; so must avoid one or all of the following: almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, coconut, pine nuts, pistachio and walnuts.
Other people are allergic to peanuts, this is usually a very serious allergy and if any trace of peanuts come into contact with this person it can result in anaphylaxis, an emergency situation which requires immediate treatment.
A few other terms that may also have you confused...
sugar-free~ some people choose to avoid cane sugar for health reasons. They may avoid cane sugar altogether or just cane sugar in its processed form. They may or may not still eat molasses, honey, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, coconut sugar, muscovado sugar, rapadura sugar, demerara sugar, raw (turbinando) sugar, palm sugar, maple syrup, fruit syrups (apple and pear), stevia, dates and other dried fruits.
vegetarian~ is a person who eats a plant based diet with or without the inclusion of dairy products or eggs. Some vegetarians also avoid eating foods containing rennet and gelatine. 'Vegetarians' can be further defined by the following...
~ovo vegetarin~ includes eggs but not dairy products
~lacto vegetarian~ includes dairy products but not eggs
~lacto-ovo vegetarian~ includes both eggs and dairy products
~vegan~ avoids all animal products including eggs, dairy products and honey.
~pescetarian~ includes fish but no meat
~semi-vegetarian~ includes fish and chicken
raw foodist is someone that eats a raw food diet most generally consisting of raw fruits, vegetables and nuts that are heated to a temperature of no more than 40C/104F- 47C/118F, but some also include raw dairy products, seafood and meat. Some people eat 100% raw, while many others simply eat a predominately raw food diet.
Phew! Now seriously, that list above is only there as a guide and like I mentioned already, each person makes their own rules and doesn't need to feel like they are constricted by a label. As far as my own personal story goes, I am firstly just me. I feed my body what I feel it needs and my family too. I was brought up predominantly vegetarian, but very occasionally ate fish too. After having kids (with food intolerances and becoming aware of my own) I relied on fish as a source of protein a whole lot more than ever before, simply because nearly all vegetarian sources of protein were off limits as a breast feeding mother with sensitive children. We were strictly gluten and dairy-free for around two years, but now eat wheat products when out on occasion with no major side-effects. At home we eat gluten-free, but include oats. We eat and love yoghurt, ghee and feta. And I bake with butter. We eat eggs, often. I haven't eaten fish in over a year, but don't mind the odd bit of fish sauce in food, especially if it's been prepared by my Vietnamese mother-in-law. My kids eat organic chicken with their meat-eating dad and my son Kye when asked what his favourite food is, will always reply with 'chicken on the bone'.
Now here, have a wonderful recipe for gluten-free, vegan macaroni cheese.
P.s You don't have to be vegan to enjoy it...
But just out of curiosity, feel free to leave a note in the comments below telling me your story. How many, if any, of these categories describe you? As you can see from above, our families all over the show so please know that there's no prejudice here or 'right' answer! Xx ~emm
Also one last thing before I forget... the Saveur 2012 Best Food Blog Award nominations are open, if you love this blog as much as I hope you do, wanna pop over and nominate My Darling Lemon Thyme? Nominations close 29th March. Thanks so much!
roast tomato and thyme macaroni 'cheese'
If you are coeliac you might want to research gluten-free nutritional yeast. The one I buy says it may contain traces of gluten. Same goes for Dijon mustard. I use San Remo macaroni pasta and homemade almond milk. But I'm thinking Australia's Own Organic Almond milk that I sometimes buy from Woolworths would be fine too.
- 250g punnet of cherry tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons fine brown rice flour
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (homemade is perfect!)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (check it's gluten-free)
- 250g packet gluten-free macaroni pasta
- 2-3 tablespoons almond milk, extra
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced
- extra thyme leaves, optional
Preheat oven to 200 C/ 395F. Place tomatoes into a oven-proof dish that's large enough to hold the finished macaroni and cheese. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over tomatoes, scatter with thyme leaves and season well with sea salt and black pepper. Roast for 20 minutes or until the skins burst. Remove from the oven and set aside until required.
Meanwhile put a large pot of salted water on to boil while you prepare the 'cheese' sauce. Combine the nutritional yeast, brown rice flour, garlic, sea salt and almond milk in a medium pan and whisk until smooth. Bring to the boil over medium heat, then turn down to a simmer and cook, stirring often for 2-3 minutes until thickened slightly. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Once the water is boiling cook the pasta until just al dente, cooked but still firm to the bite. You want to make sure you don't over cook the pasta at this stage as it still has to have a second cooking in the oven. Drain the pasta, then stir through 'cheese' sauce, adding an extra 2-3 tablespoons of almond milk to thin the sauce down, you want it to be on the runny side now, as the pasta will absorb a lot of the sauce when cooking in the oven. Add spring onion and gently fold through the roasted tomatoes. Taste and season with sea salt and black pepper if needed. Transfer the mixture back into the dish the tomatoes were roasting in, pop in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is lovely and golden.
My 'cheese' sauce recipe was adapted from one in 500 Vegan Recipes by Celine Steen & Joni Marie Newman.
Recipe linked to: Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays @ Simply Sugar & Gluten-free