In Search of the Lean Six Life

Smarter, not harder. Preferrably A LOT smarter.


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Facing Food Myths

Dairy Free: Day Thirteen

I have made it this far, but I’m disappointed. I’m sorry to say it, but that’s the honest truth.

I expected something amazing. Like when I cut grains and legumes from my diet, I could tell the difference almost immediately.  Beginning with the immediate disappearance of the stomach upset and digestive issues that I’d always assumed were natural. (Wait, burping and heartburn don’t have to be daily torture?)  Continuing with obtaining a healthy weight and staying there effortlessly. (Even if I’m still not happy with my “healthy weight”, but that’s another story.) 

But deep down inside, I always believed I wasn’t doing all I could. I realize now I’ve harbored a cherished myth that if I could just eat perfectly, all my health complaints ever would go away. Whatever “perfectly” means.  When I was a teen, my mom would go through health food diet fads with pamphlets and articles and flyers and cookbooks all about how diseases could be cured and prevented, vision would revert to 20/20, acne cleared up, minimal body fat and best of all no menstrual period (typed like a chick, eh?) – all just from eating the perfect diet. (I.e., whichever diet made them money!) I thought I got so close with the “paleo” diet, and closer still when I cut further back on processed and natural sugar. But I just couldn’t let go of the dairy.

And now I have, and it’s still not enough. 

Oh don’t get me wrong. I can breathe – and that’s very important! In fact, I was able to stop taking my antihistamine / pseudoephedrine cocktail two days after I cut dairy out. 

But so many dairy-free food bloggers tout the amazing effects they experienced removing the milk products, I had hoped for… well… more!

Friday night, after 15 days, I will reintroduce dairy as dramatically as possible. Pizza with mozzarella and pepperoni on an Against the Grain crust (which is made largely from cheese).

Against The Grain Gourmet - Grain Free Pizza Crust

Against The Grain Gourmet – Grain Free Pizza Crust

A brief shout-out to Against The Grain Gourmet for offering a pizza crust, in addition to their selection of frozen pizzas!

If this dairy allergy of mine isn’t psychosomatic, symptoms should come flooding back in a wave of Immunoglobulin E. We’ll see if there’s anything besides the sinus congestion that I didn’t even realize was missing until it is reintroduced!

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DIY Cultured Foods – Tip

“How do you tell if your cultured food product is bad?”

“It’s as off-color as my jokes.”

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Not Good! Off color culture

This, folks, is not the color coconut milk yogurt is supposed to be.

I made a double batch this time – four cans of coconut milk, in two mason jars. I’m using a heating pad in a cooler to culture the bacteria between 108 and 112 for about 24 hours.

Both jars were fine this morning, with eight hours incubation time to go. I have no clue what happened to this jar. The other is thankfully ok!  Although I will be inspecting it extra carefully as I spoon it into containers for this coming work week.


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The Quest

Congratulations to me!

I have survived a week of dairy free eating. Unless of course there was hidden dairy products in some processed food I consumed. But guess what? Grain-free, legume-free, and dairy-free really limits your processed food choices.

Plus, I found a workable substitute for my beloved daily Quest bar: behold, the Almond Butter Power Bar!

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Homemade Energy Bars

(How do food bloggers take such good photos? Topic for later I guess.)

The original recipe started with peanut butter, but I substituted almond butter to avoid the legumes. I think next version, I will use sunflower seed butter, to cut down on the overall amount of nuts, since sometimes I feel bloaty after eating too many nuts (almonds in particular).

These bars lack the gooey texture of the Quest bars, but the texture is pleasant in its own right – it has almost a granola bar crumbly thing going on.

Better yet, they aren’t overwhelmingly sweet like many paleo “energy bars” which are date-based.

Recipe to follow after I try one more round of tweaks. Because that’s what I do. Tinker with things.


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Dairy Free Dining Out

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BJ's Brewhouse Gluten & Allergen Flyer

A shout-out to BJ’s Brewhouse for having a thorough gluten / allergen identification flyer for their patrons.  Although I’m now thoroughly depressed about the sheer number of items with dairy. And finding something which was wheat free and dairy free and, you know, tasty was challenging.

Make sure you ask for the flyer in the restaurant – the one on the website appears out of date, and doesn’t match up with the actual menu.

If you’re wondering – I went with the Thai Chicken Salad, sans wontons.

Dining out dairy free, achievement unlocked!


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Dear Dairy

Sometimes, I hate being right.

Like two days ago, when I realized all this time I had been wrong. About eating Primal, seasonal allergies, and dairy products.

See, lo these many months ago when I adopted the “Primal” variation of what is known in the vernacular as the “Paleo Diet” I embraced it at least in part because of its leniency regarding dairy products. I luff my butter in my coffee in the mornings. I luff my homemade whole cows milk yogurt (and its healthy bacteria love me in return). I luff my scrambled eggs on Saturday mornings, cooked in butter and sprinkled with shredded cheddar. I luff most of all, my afternoon whey-protein-isolate-based Quest Bar, especially the Double Chocolate Chunk. And the Cookies & Cream.  And the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. How fabulous to have such a selection of grain-free, low carb snack bars!

(Not to mention, almost every recipe I’ve collected over the past year features cheese or butter or sour cream or yogurt or kefir in some form or fashion.)

And I thought that eating Primal would improve minor health annoyances such as seasonal allergies. After all, avoiding the “SAD” (Standard American Diet) would reduce inflammation in my system, so when the annual botanical orgy started up again in the spring, I would be just fine, thank you very much.

More like, it was BORED and DESPERATE for something to do, because my allergies went kah-razy. Tree pollen and mold spores oh my! I was one snot mess.  Like seriously. I was embarrassed to be at work because everyone thought I was sick. Watering eyes, unable to breathe, debilitating sneezes – just as miserable as miserable can be. Even on my trusty ol’ cetirizine-D, which I finally weaned myself off of months ago, couldn’t make a dent in my symptoms.

And then… I remembered. I had noticed in years past, that if I had seasonal allergy flare ups, any dairy product made it worse. Even “non dairy” products would slam my sinuses shut – milk proteins, for example in the form of calcium caseinate are added to juices to “fortify” them with calcium.

Two days ago, I abandoned dairy in every form. Even most brands of ghee have trace casein and whey in them.  I’m trying coconut oil in my morning coffee concoction again (some morning coconut oil and I do NOT get along), cooking more with lard, store bought coconut milk yogurt (though I’ll try making my own this weekend), and sprinkling my scrambled eggs with, well, nothing.  Sigh.  Still not sure what to do about my afternoon snack though. Nuts make me bloaty, fruit and most “raw” snack bars are too sugary, jerky is so high in sodium (and many store bought brands have corn and wheat in it, yuck) and nothing, but nothing, is as satisfying as a Quest bar anyway.

But – I was right. Yay? My allergy symptoms have subsided back to an annoyance rather than nearly debilitating like they were just a short while ago. Just like the decision to eat “Primal” / “Paleo” in the first place, I wouldn’t have stuck with it, except that I could see and feel the results.

Will our heroine survive her self imposed dairy abstinence?  Will she come to terms with the fact that when she decided long ago to “cut back on dairy”, that actually meant absolutely nothing?  Stay tuned!