04 Feb No Cheese, Please
Ah, February! The month of love, the month of those chalky-tasting yet somehow always adorable little candy hearts, the month of no cheese. That’s right… I am doing what I had heretofore thought impossible, giving up dairy products for one month. (Notice I strategically picked the shortest month of the year…. I know my limits!)
Why dairy? This one has always been on my list of potential “month without” candidates but it was definitely near the bottom. I knew living without dairy, especially cheese, would be challenging. I’m not sure if dairy, like refined white sugar/flour products, is in any way actually bad for you, but I do know that when I switched my family to almond milk several years ago, a lot of things improved for my kids. (And by “things” I mean bathroom stuff… talk to me one-on-one if you really want the gory details!) So we’ve been doing the almond milk thing for awhile and I figured, why not go whole hog, er whole soy bean, and just give up dairy altogether? So here I am, drinking my soy latte, typing to all of you lovely readers.
I’m on day four of this dairy-free experiment, and so far it hasn’t been too terrible. I bought myself some vegan butter and plant-based “cheese-like shreds” to get me through tough times (both readily available at my local Kroger, I might add). The vegan butter is indistinguishable to me from dairy butter. I use it on toast and to make pancakes for my kids. As they usually do on pancake night, the kids attacked the stack like wildebeests. No cries of, “Hey, this tastes like a plant-based butter substitute!”
Pizza night was really the only hitch. I refuse to subject my family to “cheese-like shreds” so I watched a tad jealously as my kids and husband wolfed down gooey pepperoni and cheese while I nibbled on a whole grain English muffin with pesto and the aforementioned shreds. The shreds look a lot like cheese, but the similarities stop there. Oh well, I told myself, it is just one month, after all.
Speaking of months, let me give you a little feedback about my January White-Out, my month of no white sugar, flour, rice, or potatoes.
Honestly, this month was not that difficult for me. Because I had already lived without sugar for one month, it wasn’t that hard to do it again. In addition, I don’t eat rice or potatoes all that often, and both are easily swapped for healthier substitutes like brown rice, quinoa, or sweet potatoes.
The real challenge was white flour, which, like sugar, is in many products. I had already switched to Ezekiel bread (one of the only truly whole-grain bread options available) for my month without sugar, so I was covered bread-wise, as long as I ate at home. I know I probably ingested some white flour/white sugar when I ate bread at restaurants, even though I always chose the whole grain or whole wheat options. Oh well. Unless you’re going to be militant, it is really hard to live in the modern world without eating some refined white flour.
I also cheated a bit during the last week when I spent the morning of a snow day making a new oatmeal raisin cookie recipe with my kids. I wasn’t craving the cookies, but I honestly just wanted to try the recipe to see what they tasted like. The verdict? Good. Very good. I only ate one, was satisfied, and packed the leftovers off with my kids to preschool to share the baking love.
Wish my luck for my month of no dairy! And as always, feel free to join me!