Sunday, February 7, 2010

Alternative Dairy Beverages

I have blogged before on my two children's food allergies. I could probably write a handbook and cook book on the subject. I remember when my daughter was a small baby and would have allergic reactions such as hives and rashes. Her reactions were from various foods she was allergic to that I had eaten, that were then passed on through my breast milk. Initially, I found it very difficult to alter my diet since I could only eat foods she was not allergic to. Stressed out doesn't even begin to describe how I felt at the time!

Since then, I have learned to cook and buy products that do not have the foods my kids can't have (dairy, eggs, red food dye, nuts; was also soy, oats, citrus). Here are some alternative dairy beverages and reasons they may be used over the other choices:

-soy beverage: good alternative especially for cooking, but many kids are also allergic to soy.

-rice beverage: tastes like skin milk, but low in fat; not the best alternative for a toddler needing to gain weight.

-almond beverage: great taste, but many kids are also allergic to nuts, and those who aren't are likely to grow into the allergy with continual exposure to almond milk. Unfortunately, this was the case with my son- after 10 days, he became allergic to it.

-oat beverage: good taste, not the best to cook with. More protein and fat than rice milk. Not good for kids on a gluten-free diet, because although oats don't have gluten there is cross-contamination with other grains during storage.

-hemp beverage: good taste, similar to pine nuts. High in omega 3 and 6, good levels of fat and protein. Not as easy to find in the stores as some other beverages. It is processed in Canada since it is illegal to grow cabannis (AKA marijuana) in the USA; hemp comes from the plant's seed and doesn't contain THC!

-hazelnut beverage: tastes distinctly sweet and nutty. Not good for kids with nut allergies or those at risk for it.

-Dairy-Free (R) beverage: made with potato flour, no fat, cholestorol or protein. Good if you are trying to lose weight, not good for toddlers who need higher fat levels.

Remember to buy these products that have been enriched with calcium and vitamin D. If you can't get your kids to drink these beverages, then try a dairy-free calcium liquid supplement or chewable vitamin. Also, there are many other foods out there that have calcium either added or naturally in them. Even carrots and broccoli have a small amount of calcium. However, it is a lot harder to get the necessary amount.
Don't forget that when purchasing vitamins or probiotics to buy products for vegans or those that distinctly state they don't contain any dairy or it's derivatives, and for the highly allergenic kids, they shouldn't even consume products that are processed on the same machinery as other products that may contain dairy.

In my house, I tend to stock up on hemp and rice beverages. Well, I'm off to go drink a large glass of rice milk....yummy!

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