Updated: Apr 7, 2020
If you read our Instagram post yesterday, you’ll know that this blog post will conclude our first season of writing. We didn’t plan on writing in seasons (like your favorite television show) when we initially started this journey, but that’s what we’re both being called to do now. We’ve discussed it at length, agonizing over what the right decision is and we’ve decided to listen to our inner voices and take a short break to enjoy the remainder of our summer and to prepare for harvest. Please don’t fret though, we will be back! Season two will include a theme of blog topics that we plan to roll out in October 2019 - so not too far away! You’ll also continue to hear from us weekly about our spray-free vegetables and free-range eggs because that ain’t slowing down anytime soon! If you haven't subscribed to get those emails, make sure you do so at the bottom of this page. We will continue to be active on our Instagram and Facebook accounts, we just won’t be putting our energy into publishing a blog post every week for the next two months. We thank all of you who have been visiting and reading our blogs every week, we so appreciate it and we hope that you’ll continue to tune in again for season two.
Okay, on-wards to today’s blog post...
Today the temperatures are soaring over 30 degrees Celsius in the heart of the Canadian prairies so it seemed appropriate to share an ice cream recipe! It seems especially important to share an easy to make, dairy free ice cream recipe because for those of us who have a hard time with dairy in our system, it’s not always easy to find an alternative never mind an inexpensive one, especially when you live in a small town where vegan and dairy free options are not as available.
I’ve been off dairy for the most part for the better part of three years. Dairy, in the form of heavy cream - like what’s found in some hot chocolates, some cheeses, creamy sauces and ice cream started to make me feel extremely ill. My symptoms started out pretty innocently with a bit of bloating and gas (I didn't even think twice about it at first), then progressed to abdominal cramping (which is when I started to think "Hmmmm..."), and then intensified to full on diarrhea (where I was definitely questioning my choices at this point). And this was all happening in a very short turnaround time from initial consumption. I know, this is probably TMI, but hey, it’s real life and I know I’m not the only one who has and is currently suffering from these same symptoms after eating ice cream or an extra cheesy piece of pizza! Having such strong reactions to dairy can secretly ruin one's life because we often live in silence, it's the worst feeling. If you're reading this and nodding your head, keep reading, but also, please go see a trusted health care professional because you do not have to live like this!
Nowadays, it’s very rare that I consume any kind of dairy without symptoms. On a rare occasion when I know I’m going to be consuming dairy, I try to remember to take a digestive enzyme capsule to help my gut along - sometimes it helps, other times it doesn’t - but it definitely doesn’t make any of the symptoms worse. I won't go into digestive enzymes today because that's a totally different blog post, but it's also really important that you talk to a healthcare professional before taking any supplements and we also want to rule out that something else isn't going on. Ask your family doctor or naturopathic doctor about digestive enzymes if you have any troubles digesting foods after eating; you can also find digestive enzymes at most health food stores.
Dairy Allergy vs Intolerance
You may have heard the terms “allergy” as well as “intolerance” thrown around in conversation when it comes to dairy or lactose upset. These two terms are not interchangeable and I’ll break them down in a manageable way below because there’s a very real difference! Also, there's so much in-depth information about this topic and know that this little paragraph is a very condensed version of the research and literature out there about how dairy negatively affects some people's bodies.
Dairy Allergy: A dairy allergy is caused by an immune system malfunction. If you have a dairy allergy, your immune system identifies certain milk proteins as harmful, dangerous invaders that end up triggering the production of antibodies to recognize and signal your immune system to release histamine and other body chemicals, causing a range of allergic symptoms. There are usually two proteins in milk that can cause a person to have an allergic reaction:
Casein - found in the solid (curd) part of milk that curdles.
Whey - found in the liquid part of the milk that remains after the milk curdles.
Children are more likely to have a dairy allergy and the signs and symptoms include bloating, gas, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, rash, hives, wheezing, swelling of the face and mouth, trouble swallowing and tightness in the throat. As you get older your digestive system usually gets better at digesting lactose, however, dairy intolerance's are more common in adults.
Dairy Intolerance: A dairy intolerance means that your digestive system doesn’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down lactose (a sugar in dairy) found in milk and milk products. Having an intolerance is more common in adults. Symptoms include digestive upset such as bloating, gas or diarrhea after consuming milk or products containing milk because the undigested lactose goes straight to the colon where it’s broken down by bacteria which causes all of that uncomfortable bloating and gas.
I just want to pause here for a moment and make note of the difference between the two, a dairy allergy is an immune system response which can, in severe cases, be life threatening; while an intolerance is a digestive system issue that is not life threatening, just very uncomfortable. In my case, I have a dairy intolerance where my body no longer wants anything to do with most kinds of dairy and I get all of the symptoms listed above. I lived for quite a few years just thinking that it might go away one day and sadly it didn’t; it got worse (sorry to all of your hopeful believers out there).
So What’s the Solution?
For me, it was cutting out all dairy (yep, even cheese and ice cream) and then slowly adding some of my favorite dairy products back in to see if they set off any symptoms. Most of them did give me a reaction - mild bloating and gas all the way up to abdominal pain and diarrhea. At this point in my journey, any cream sauces, most ice creams, cheeses, milkshakes and even cookies or other baking that has dairy in it is off the table. And if I'm being completely honest, yes, sometimes I convince myself that it would be "easier" to eat dairy (especially when I'm out in public or at someone's house for dinner), but I don't miss the agonizing pain and frequent bathroom visits at all. When I weigh the two options out, the decision becomes a lot easier. Yes, it took some practice; yes, I've "relapsed" many times and continue to do so; but also, YES I generally feel less inflamed and bloated, more alert, my skin is clearer and bonus, I'm not sick! Again, if I’m going to an event where I think I might be consuming a little bit of dairy and there won’t be any other food choices, I pop a digestive enzyme and cross my fingers.
Sometimes, folks with a dairy intolerance find limiting or decreasing their dairy consumption helpful. Another option is to try to find your favorite dairy foods but without lactose in it - you’ll find it labeled “Lactose Free” on the product. I’ve seen some milk and ice cream options out there. If you have a dairy allergy, it will be very important to avoid all dairy products because we want you to stay healthy and most importantly, alive.
Weather you have a dairy allergy or intolerance, your body will most likely feel better avoiding dairy altogether, but because it’s summer, and it’s hot, and it’s oh so hard to not eat delicious ice cream, I’m sharing with you my favorite alternative! This recipe has only four ingredients so you might even find that you have all of the ingredients at home right now. This ice cream alternative is bursting with natural flavours, has no artificial colours or preservatives, is easy to make and inexpensive, and is most importantly, DAIRY FREE!
Dairy Free Strawberry Banana Ice Cream
Prep time: 10 minutes + one overnight
Vegan, Gluten Free, Snack, Desert
3 bananas, peeled, sliced into coins then frozen
½ to ¾ cup frozen strawberries
½ cup almond milk or milk of choice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Peel bananas and slice them into coins. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread the banana coins onto the lined pan, then freeze overnight or until solid.
Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.
Pour contents into a loaf pan or similar size container.
Freeze for one hour or until solid - I also liked eating it right out of the food processor because it has more of a soft ice cream or milkshake consistency. If you leave it in the freezer for more than one day, you'll find it's pretty hard when you take it out because there's no cream. Simply leave it on the counter for a couple of minutes and it will soften right up!
Feel free to comment on any of the topics that we discussed today!
Your experience with dairy allergy or intolerance
What your experience has been like eating a dairy free diet
How you liked this dairy free ice cream
Until next time, take care and be kind to yourselves Root & Sprouters!