Who Removed My Cheese? – Part 2

Dairy-free. It’s not so bad. But that depends on the day.

We’ve been dairy-free going on 5 months now.

If you’re new to the blog, we found out my son has a dairy allergy, and since I’m breastfeeding that means no dairy for this mama. Thankfully, we found out fairly early and fingers crossed, he will outgrow this.

Callan Andrew-1107

I was seriously depressed at the thought of taking dairy out of my diet, but it’s getting easier every day. What I didn’t expect was this to be such an emotional issue. Some days, I get so frustrated; it can completely put me in a funk for the day. Some days, I make mistakes then worry I’ve hurt my little guy.

Dining out is especially difficult. You have to ask a million questions. Is the bun buttered? Does the bread have milk or butter baked in or brushed on top? No croutons or cheese on my salad, please! Waiters tend to not know all the ingredients included in each item and honestly, many don’t seem to care to find out. Guess I can’t blame them. Unfortunately, it’s easiest to find options I can eat at chains as their menus are standard and ingredients can be found online. Eating out just isn’t as fun as it used to be.

The benefit of dairy-free? If you’re needing help losing baby weight or weight in general, cut out dairy!!! Unfortunately for me, it’s also causing some health concerns. For the first time in my life, I’m having trouble keeping weight on. Between breastfeeding and no dairy, it’s taking a toll on my body. (Yeah, I’ll hate myself for complaining about this one day.)

One of the initial struggles was knowing what to buy at the grocery store. It was overwhelming to start reading every single label for hidden dairy items. I still read a lot of labels but know some of the tricks.

  • Most labels list potential allergens such as “This product contains: soy, wheat, milk”. Check this before reading through the list of ingredients.
  • “May contain traces of milk” – this is a vague term and basically a CYA for companies. Food with this notation could have been made on equipment that had a milk product but was sanitized before the dairy-free product was made. It can also mean that workers at the factory where it was made are allowed to eat dairy items in their lunches. We disregard this warning and have had no issues.
  • Whey is dairy and is a common ingredient. Check chips and vinaigrettes for this one!
  • Dairy-free whipped topping and creamer? Yeah, they’re not dairy-free. Go figure!
  • Anything noted “Vegan” is dairy-free.
  • Casein/caseinate is a dairy product.
  • Butter – many people (especially restaurant) tend to forget this is a dairy item.
  • Margarine – most include dairy, but not all
  • Mayonnaise – most are not dairy, but lots of people think it is.

Dairy Substitutes

For anyone else on this journey, here are my favorite grocery items. Many of them are chocolate 🙂 Disclaimer – I eat items that “may contain trace amounts of dairy.”

Blue Diamond Almond Milk – my go-to substitute for recipes. I tend to buy the unsweetened but the vanilla is an extra special treat with cereal.

Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk – excellent cold or warmed up for hot chocolate

Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread – my go-to for a spreadable butter replacement

Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks – works well for cooking but I’m not sold on using it as a baking replacement. I’ll keep trying.

Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownies – my, oh my…delicious! Try this with pumpkin.

Trader Joe’s Light Coconut Milk – I haven’t really used this as a substitute but am making more recipes that would typically use coconut milk.

Attune Dark Chocolate Probiotic Bars – great nutritional substitute and oh, so yummy. Look for them in  the yogurt section.

Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips – good for baking and snacking

Tofutti Sour Cream and Cream Cheese – certainly not the real thing but does the trick

So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk Ice Cream Sandwiches – taste and texture are spot on

Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups – gosh darn, these are awesome!

Dining Out

Papa John’s Pizza – no cheese of course! The garlic dipping sauce is dairy-free too!

Chik-Fil-A – Grilled Chicken Sandwich, waffle fries, Roasted Honey BBQ sauce, Chik-Fil-A sauce, Polynesian, and I think a few others are dairy-free

Dairy-free Treats

There are a few items that I never would have thought were dairy-free. Unfortunately, they are totally processed snacks and for some reason, I eat more of these items since going dairy-free. Maybe because they are easy to grab and now that I know they’re safe for me to eat, I don’t have to check a gazillion labels??

Yeah, yeah…don’t judge.

Oreos – now a permanent staple in my pantry

Ritz Crackers

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

Dairy-free Sources

A GREAT reference is Go Dairy Free. Alisa has tons of information and has an exhaustive list of restaurant options.

KellyMom – well, really it’s just a great source for everything about breastfeeding

Where are we now?

So, the doc said to try dairy again at 6 months. We’re there. I’m totally scared. I had a tiny piece of chocolate one night with no repercussions. Last night, I made cookies with dairy-free butter but milk chocolate chips. Between the dough and the cookies, it was probably somewhere around six cookies (oops!). Today? No issues.

Are we over it? Only time will tell. I’m not ready to go order a cheeseburger.

We’ve also just started solids. This means really spacing things out so we can find the culprit of any potential issues.

Dairy-free. It’s not so bad, but certainly not easy.

This guy makes it worth it!

Callan Andrew-1246


Black Bean and Quinoa Chili

I miss blogging.

Last week I started my second round of Best Body Bootcamp. One of my goals for this week is to write a blog post every day. They can be saved to actually post at a later time, but they have to get written. Yes, I’m already behind as it’s after 11 on the first night.

So, this is the first of hopefully many (we’ll see how that goes) dairy-free recipes.

We’re still adapting to the dairy-free lifestyle but it’s becoming easier and easier. In fact, a dairy-free update is one of the posts I hope to get up this week.

Anyway, back to the recipe.


It took many, many years for me to like chili. Stewed tomatoes and mushy kidney beans. That’s all I ever knew…until I grew up and realized there are many other delicious options. Turkey, Texas, white, vegetarian; all so much better than what I remember. I should probably try my parent’s recipe again. It probably tastes much better 20 years later!

This one? It’s almost vegetarian (sub the chicken broth with vegetable), quick, healthy and best of all, tasty!


3 15 oz cans black beans
1 C cooked corn
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 Tbls olive oil
1 tsp Mexican chili powder*
2 tsp chipotle chili powder*
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp salt
1 14 oz can low-sodium chicken broth
2 14.5 oz cans petite diced tomatoes with jalapeños
½ C quinoa


  1. Rinse and drain 2 cans black beans. Do not drain third can of beans.
  2. Sauté sweet onion in olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium until translucent.
  3. Stir in chili powders, cumin, pepper and salt. Sauté 1 minute.
  4. Stir in beans, corn, chicken broth and diced tomatoes.
  5. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 min.
  6. Stir in quinoa. Simmer for 5 min.
  7. Serve chili with desired toppings.

Slightly adapted from Black Bean Chili on MyRecipes.com

*Chili powder – If you don’t have hot mexican or chipotle chili powder, the original recipe calls for 4 tsp chili powder.

Fitness Update

Four weeks of Best Body Bootcamp complete!


Week 1 and 2 were great. Week 3 stunk. Week 4 was mostly good. The best part of it all is I’ve actually been sore. Ya know, the good sore.

Besides the workouts, we set two goals each week. My goals this week were more water and only one dessert after each meal. Water intake was great and I’m quite embarrassed to admit that one dessert after each meal was VERY difficult. I only accomplished that 5 out of 7 days.

Week 5 kicked off today. Guess what. I worked out AND enjoyed it. I could only get the first two sets in before going to work but I finished up this evening. Not my favorite way to do it but the most important thing is, I did it! Woohoo!

To help my motivation, I’ve joined another group to help me through the holidays. I feel like I’m in AA or something with all these support groups! Welcome Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge! Honestly, a holiday challenge scares the crap out of me. The PRESSURE!! But, really, this is also why I’m signing up. Keeps me motivated. And who doesn’t need extra motivation to stay in shape and eat well during the holidays?


The HBBC is a competition with all the points publicly posted (yikes!) so that will help keep me motivated too. You earn points based on your activity, fruit and veggie consumption, and a host of other things. It’s not too late to join if you want to join me.

I think it’s time for a Callan update too. This little guy is 4 months old. Love this kid!

He’s so going to kill me one day for posting this ridiculous picture. He was posing for his 4 month pictures.

One more thing for ya. I’m back to posting recipes. I’ve been cooking up a dairy-free storm and have a ton of new recipes I’m excited to share.

Happy 2nd Anniversary, Andy!

A very happy 2nd anniversary to my favorite hubby, Andy!

It’s been an awesome year and we’re celebrating in style. A trip to London and Paris. Woohoo! (Okay, so the trip just happened to coincide with our anniversary.)

A few highlights from the year:

Radio City Music Hall in NYC

Exciting News!Baby-Bump-5-Weeks

Getting Ready for baby (Andy may not agree this was fun since he was the one that had to refinished it!)Our first real gardenTrip to California

California_May 2012-1803EasterBabymoon in AustinAustin (3 of 3)

And, I haven’t asked him, but I’m fairly certain he would agree; this was the best thing of the year.

photo by Melissa Manzione

I love you, Andy. I can’t wait for many, many more years together.

Body After Baby — Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

You see this?

ATM-bibIt’s the race bib for the race I didn’t run yesterday.

I was signed up for the Army 10 Miler. As in, I was supposed to run 10 miles yesterday.

At 6 weeks postpartum, I decided to sign up for the race. So, I put together a running plan. This left me 8 weeks to get ready. Definitely not long enough to be running any PRs but enough to be back in shape and do some decent splits.

Workouts got a bit tough toward the end of pregnancy, but I kept up with it. Once Callan arrived and I was feeling better, we started going on walks. Sometimes in the stroller and sometimes in the Moby. We started walking at about 3 weeks and it was too soon. (PM me if you want to know how I knew.) We tried again around 4 weeks and I was good to go. The weather was so hot and that kept us in a few days but we tried as much as we could.

Then I started my race training. By the end of the first week, I was already hitting a wall. I’d lost my motivation. I knew it would be hard to get back into it, but I also thought running would come fairly easily. I mean, I’ve just dropped 23 pounds and should feel weightless, right? My legs were just tired and heavy. I kept it up for a few weeks but once things got a bit busy, I basically stopped. So, for the last three weeks, I’ve been quite lazy.

Honestly, the biggest motivation for me staying active is to stay thin. I hit my pre-pregnancy weight right at 6 weeks postpartum. Since then, I’ve even dropped a few extra. Unfortunately, losing the weight so quickly kind of made me lose my motivation.

39 Weeks – Oh, that looks painful now. And, my puffy eyes!

39 Weeks

A few days after Callan was born.

Callan Andrew-0470

Yes, some of it’s genes; but, I did work out my entire pregnancy and started back-up as soon as I could. I know that, plus breast feeding, contributed to losing the weight. That doesn’t mean things look the same. There is some major toning needed.

Here’s what I’m struggling with:

  1. I’m at my happy weight so less motivated to work out.
  2. We don’t belong to a gym anymore and it’s getting colder outside. I hate being cold and I really do miss the equipment at a gym. (Joining a gym isn’t an option as they’re too far from our house.)
  3. Timing. I can’t just leave the house while Little Dude sleeps and I’m much better at working out in the morning than in the evening.

Here’s what should be motivating me:

  1. I’m not toned and even though the number on the scale looks good, I’m not happy with the way I look.
  2. I usually enjoy working out.
  3. Callan – It’s very important he sees us healthy and active.

So, what’s a girl to do?

My first step in getting back into the groove is joining in with some others. I’m going to Best Body Bootcamp!!! I’ve seen a few other bloggers getting involved so I couldn’t wait to sign-up for the next session. Here we go!

Day 1 — a success!

I need your help mommies (and others!). How do I motivate myself? How long did it take you to get back into shape?

Lucky Gal

#5,823 reason I’m so happy I get to work from home.

Today, I had to go into my office which is in DC. I left before Callan was awake and got home at 7. Callan went to bed at 8:30. That means I spent just an hour and a half with my little man. I know some parents have to do that every day. How do you do it?

I’m one lucky mommy.

Who Removed My Cheese?

A little bit of my worst nightmare has occured. Okay, so maybe that’s a little dramatic. Callan’s great, we’re good, and life is good.

The bad news? Callan has a dairy allergy. I never wanted to have ‘that kid with the allergy’.

No dairy? This means Mommy gets no dairy. No cheese, no yogurt, no butter, no milk, no Caprese (sigh), limited chocolate, and no creamy dressings. Dairy is in everything. EVERYTHING!

Let me back up. The first sign there was a problem was a bit of blood in his diaper. I’m talking a very small amount but to a new (and probably all) mom, this was scary. We brought him to the doc and she said it could be a dairy allergy, but it was more likely just a bit of blood from “explosive poops.” Sweet, huh? He’s such a boy.

Well, then we just started noticing him getting more and more fussy, acting a bit lethargic, and just not right. Just as we were debating bringing him in, he threw up. This kid had only spit up a very small amount once or twice. So, again, scary mommy moment. We brought him in and the doc talked us through it. There weren’t any glaring signs of what was going on so she told us to watch him closely and notice any changes in his diapers, behavior, eating, etc. The good thing which also made this difficult to discover, is that he was thriving. He’s eating well, gaining weight, and hitting all the milestones.

We left the doctor’s office and went to lunch. At lunch, we looked over at him and milk was coming out his nose. Poor little guy! We immediately brought him back to the doctor. While we were waiting, I changed his diaper. Guess what? More blood.

The doc took me off dairy for three days then said to add it back in and see if we notice any changes. Three days wasn’t long enough for anything to change so I went back off dairy for five days. That’s when we really saw the difference. Still, the only way to make sure that’s what was really going on was to add back in dairy. That lasted just half a day. This time it was obvious.

So, here we are.

This diet change is drastic — not only because of the delicious food items I have to avoid, but because it also changes my food philosophy. My food philosophy is moderation. I eat what I want. Yes, there may be high-fructose corn syrup, flavor additives, fake this, fake that, but, oh well. I just either don’t eat it often or eat it in very small amounts. Just because I post a lot of decadent recipes, doesn’t mean it’s my entire diet. My breakfast and lunches tend to be very light and healthy. Dinner and mostly dessert is where I indulge.

I’m removing a large number of foods I eat on a regular basis. Yes, not all are good for me but some are. I’ll miss my yogurt for a mid-morning snack. Caprese, well, just won’t exist. Pizza, will it even be worth it? Baking? Right now, feels like a distant memory. Cheese board for Dad’s birthday and Father’s Day? Football Sundays? Our upcoming trip to England and the food I won’t be able to eat? I could go on and on.

While I (and Andy) spend a few days being depressed about my limited diet, I’m also going to work on finding a new way to cook. A big challenge will be finding recipes Andy enjoys as well. Of course, he can still eat dairy, but for dinner, besides throwing on a slice of cheese for him, I don’t see myself cooking two different meals. I’ve seen a lot of weird (weird because I don’t use them) ingredients so now is the time to figure them all out. I do know I can search for vegan (though, I can eat eggs) recipes and that should give me a good start.

So here we go. It’s time for us to get all granola-crunchy and start eating tofu, nutritional yeast, almond milk, and soy cheese. I’m trying to look on the bright side. I’ve always joked that if I could take cheese out of my diet, I’d lose 10 pounds. We’ll see. I’ll either lose a bunch of weight from cutting out some high fat sources or gain 10 pounds because I’ll eat a bunch of pre-packaged junk food.

The good news is, there’s a very good chance he could outgrow this. About 75% of babies do. The doc says I shouldn’t try dairy again until he’s 6 months. Ehh. I don’t 100% agree but we’ll see how that goes. I also want to test out how he does with goat or sheep’s milk. From a lot of online research (all expert advice, of course), many kids only have a cow’s milk allergy.

She also said she’ll want us to very slowly introduce new foods to him plus do some allergy testing when he’s a year. Honestly, I think this is a bit extreme but of course, I want to and will do what’s best for him.

Trust me. Anything to see this happy face is completely worth it!

Wish us luck! Do you have any dairy free websites, advice, recipes, etc. for us?

And, whoa! That was a really long post.

Philly — Labor Day Weekend

It was my (almost) last weekend of maternity leave and needed to do something. Andy also had a three-day weekend due to the Labor Day holiday so we decided to take a day trip to Philly. It’s about 2 ½ hours from our house. The weather was kind of crappy but we hoped that would keep the crowds away.

It did! Despite there being a two-day music festival downtown, we felt like we had the city to ourselves.

First, we took our time getting ready that morning. Haha! That’s a lie. It just takes us forever to get all three of us out the door. We’re working on it though.

On our drive, we found a cool little flea market with great deals on some furniture. Since we weren’t in the mood to think about future DIY projects, we moved on with a promise to each other (me and Andy that is) we’d return.

Since it was a Sunday and we didn’t get into town until about noon, our options were limited. Plus, besides a short jaunt into DC one day, this was our first trip with Little Man. Who knew what his eating schedule would be like or how he’d handle being out for so long.

After we found parking, we stopped by the Information Center, got our tickets for the 3:15 tour of Independance Hall then set off to find lunch at Reading Terminal.

It’s a food lover’s heaven. After a short walk through with a stroller (bad idea), we saw gyros. Done. We love gyros and they were delicious!

I’d been on a short-term, dairy-free diet for the little guy and was either going to go back on dairy that day (Sunday) or the next (Monday). Really? You try walking through a food market and not eating dairy. So, Sunday it was. However, I did resist the ice cream! More on this soon.

Next, we were off to Independence Hall for our tour. It started to rain pretty hard and we tried to find some cover where I could feed Callan. We made it through security, got in line, then a super nice National Park Guide told us we could wait in the covered area and he’d come get us when our tour was ready. So, under the archway we went. We’re still in view of the main street and the line for the tour but Callan needed to eat. BF in public was a success!

Before eating.

After eating.

After Independence Hall, we stopped by the Liberty Bell. Have you revisited tourist sites as an adult and been disappointed? Besides the historical relevance, we were a bit bored. Am I allowed to think this, let alone post this? Oops!

We were getting a bit tired so decided to stop in to a restaurant and have a drink. It was only about 5 o’clock when we were done but since all the touristy places were closed, we didn’t know what else to do.

Andy wanted to stop and get a cheesesteak on the way out of town but then we decided to look up Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives to see if there were any recommendations for Philly or somewhere on the way home.

 We found one! Good Dog Pub…supposedly has the best burgers and sweet potato fries. Off we went, found a seat at the Pub and placed our order. Cheeseburger, fries, and Chicken Cordon Bleu bites. The fries were awesome but the rest was pretty blah.

We headed back to the car and made our way home. It sounds like it was kind of an underwhelming day but we really did have fun. It was nice to get out of town and also nice to know we’re still committed to getting out with our new addition.

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites


Here’s another ‘quick bites of energy’ recipe. I loved having these around in the early days of Callan being here. They were healthy enough to eat at any time but they also had a bit of chocolate that worked for my sweet-tooth cravings.

We’ve been cooking with chickpeas a lot lately and I’m finding new ways to incorporate them into desserts. While I wouldn’t say these truly taste like peanut butter cookie dough, they’re delicious.


  • 1 ¼ C canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained (almost an entire can)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ C + 2 Tbls peanut butter
  • ¼ C honey
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ C chocolate chips


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a food processor, combine all the ingredients except for the chocolate chips. You may have to stop the food processor and scrape the sides a few times to make sure everything is incorporated.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and pulse a few times.
  4. With wet hands, form into 1 1/2″ balls.
  5. Place onto a Silpat or a piece of parchment paper.
  6. Press down on cookies with fork a criss-cross pattern.
  7. Bake for 10 min.

Approximately 20 cookies.

Very, very slightly adapted from Texanerin. For my first grain-free attempt, I figured it best not to mess with the recipe. And like she says, don’t skip the chocolate!

Callan’s Birth Story — Part 2

In case you missed it, here’s Callan’s Birth Story — Part 1.

And now for Part 2.

They wheeled me back to triage and told me to get onto the bed so they could check me. I could only manage to crawl on all fours onto the bed. I do remember the nurse saying “I’m going to need you to lie down. It’s very hard to check you in this position.” For some reason, she left the room (maybe to get the midwife?) While she was gone, Andy said “Emily, do you want to get an epidural? You can. It’s okay. Do you want one?” I shrugged my shoulders and said “I think so.” I assumed I was only going to be 2 or 3 cm dilated. Little did I know…

The nurse returned a minute later and I told her “I just have to go to the bathroom.” She asked “number one or number two?” My response? “Number two!” She sternly said, “I need you to turn over. I need to check you now!” During this time, they had paged the midwife to let her know we’d arrived. By the time I made it to my back, the midwife had arrived!

The midwife said she was going to check me and I’d feel a lot of pressure. OMG! At that point, it was the worst pain I’d could ever remember. That was the first time I yelped and tears started. Calmly she said “Are you ready to push? You’re 10 cm.” In the chaos of it all, Andy says they almost had me start pushing in triage instead of moving to me a room. They ended up moving me to a room and thankfully it was only a few doors down.

I wasn’t mentally prepared for the pushing part. It just happened so fast. All I could focus on was the pain and trying to get comfortable (yeah right!).

They offered a mirror which I accepted. My first few pushes were on my back and it was just uncomfortable. I wanted back on all fours so I climbed up the incline on the bed, hunched over the top the bed, then almost hurled. Just as I was getting on all fours, my parents arrived. I heard them and yelled “NO!!!” I didn’t want anyone else in the room but especially not in that position! They had no idea how quickly I’d progressed and just wanted to let me know they were there.

I turned back over onto my left side. Andy held my right leg, my left was on the bed and I was using the left foot stirrup as a handle. My right hand was holding my right thigh. I was all curled up, diagonally across the bottom half of the bed. Andy said I looked so uncomfortable but for some reason, it just worked.

In between contractions, they had me sign three forms. I have no idea what I signed! Andy jokes they would never stand up in court as I signed them under duress. Also in between contractions, Andy texted my parents “pushing.”

I pushed three to four times with each contraction. Sometimes with my eyes closed and other times, looking at the mirror. I highly recommend using a mirror. It gave me motivation when I could actually see his head. I thought the midwife and nurses were mocking me when they said I was doing a good job or encouraging me. Turns out, things were actually progressing and I could see it myself.

One time I looked in the mirror and asked the midwife what ‘that’ was. It was the head and not at all what I thought it would look like. I thought I was seeing a foot, knee or elbow. Definitely not a head.

Pushing hurts. Like, really, really hurts. There’s no way to describe the pain so I won’t even try. You know it hurts when you can’t even feel a tear (I had a first degree tear). With the pain and the pressure, the only motivation to push is to get the pain to stop and knowing what arrives at the end. And it’s true–pushing is the same pushing out a poo (but a lot more painful). Because the day had been a little bit chaotic, we still aren’t sure exactly how long i pushed but it was somewhere around 30 min.

I do remember the feeling of the last push. I could tell this one was different and gave it everything I could. At 8:22 pm, little man popped out, they put him on my chest and Andy and I blubbered. It was pure joy.

If you’re wondering what happened to the car, my dad rescued it. In between contractions, Andy gave the keys to my dad and he parked the car.

The nurses said once I was ready, they’d take him and do his measurements. Well, I wasn’t ever ready but figured they should check him out. He was 6 pounds 15 ounces and 19.5 inches long. He came out rooting and wanting to eat immediately. He latched right on!

The whole day is still a bit surreal to me. One, it just happened so fast, I wasn’t mentally prepared that he was actually coming. Two, I just birthed our child!!!!

Our child. Our perfect little Callan.

That night, he met us, Grandma and Grandpa, Mom Mom and Pop Pop, Uncle Eric and Aunt Carly, and Uncle Adam and Aunt Sarah. The next day he met Amy, Jess (and soon to be Baby Harper), Amy, Uncle Steve and Aunt Angie.

He’s one loved little guy!

Welcome, Little Dude!

I’m working on Part 3 with the details. Ya know, things like water breaking, contractions, what really goes on while you’re pushing, and recovery. The nitty gritty details that are very personal and a bit gross. But…these are the details I wanted to know and read about as I was preparing for pregnancy so I want to share. I’ll post it as soon as I find the balance between informative and way TMI. 🙂