November 13, 2013 by multiracialsky
We are a dairy-free family. This evolved over time, starting when we discovered one of our children had a severe dairy allergy (now they carry an epi-pen everywhere–even to hockey). Our other three are sensitive to dairy in different ways: upset stomach, increase in eczema, more ENT illnesses. Dad still has a block of cheddar in the fridge for late night nachos, cups of yogurt he takes for breakfast, and the occasional pint of dairy milk for weekend coffee, but we don’t cook with dairy or serve it to the family at home. For the three who are only sensitive, they get an occasional pass for mac and cheese at a friend’s house or birthday cake at a party, but they have found that they feel better without dairy. Dairy-free has me feeling better as well: severe winter eczema that I have struggled with the majority of my life completely disappeared when I stopped eating dairy, and my asthma is significantly reduced.
Instead of the gallon of dairy milk that lived in my fridge as a child, here we primarily cook and eat our granola with soymilk. Coconut milk runs a close second, and almond milk third (for reasons 1, 3, and 4 below). We buy soymilk by the case, and these are my purchasing criteria:
- Organic. Made from 100% organic ingredients.
- No added sugar of any kind.
- No Carageenan. Carageenan is a thickener made from seaweed; it primarily makes sure liquids remain mixed. It causes GI irritation, disease, and cancer. No thanks.
- No ‘Natural Flavors’. Natural flavors are created by flavorists from chemical derivatives from a plant or animal source. This can include ground up beetles, beaver secretions, and other non-vegetarian sources. There is no way to know what you are ingesting when the label reads ‘Natural Flavors’.
- Affordable. Let’s be realistic for a minute here. I have four children. We are not made of money. We buy 64 ounce containers by the case.
Our favorite brand is Westsoy Organic Unsweetened Soymilk. It has two ingredients: filtered water and whole organic soybeans. I recently tried switching to Edensoy because of the Soy Survey rankings, but it irritated everyone’s stomach (i.e.: it gave us all gas) and it is more expensive. So we’re back to Westsoy.
* A note on fortified soymilks: In theory, I would love to be giving my kids fortified milk. In reality, fortified soymilk only comes with significant added sugar–and my kids hate the sweet taste. Most fortified varieties contain Carageenan and Natural Flavors as well.