Nursing made me lactose intolerant

When I was nursing Lyra I developed allergies to dust, cats, and pollen. It wasn’t fun, but soon after she stopped nursing the allergies went away.

Something similar has happened with Pandra. I’m not sure exactly when, but I started to notice that dairy products were bothering my digestive system. I also suspected that the dairy proteins were affecting Pandra’s digestion — she would get bad gas and be uncomfortable any time I ate a lot of dairy. I am the cheese girl, so I naturally ignored it and pretended that nothing was happening. I spent quite some time in denial before I decided to entertain the thought that maybe — just maybe — eating dairy was a problem for me and for my nursing baby. I finally decided to try reducing the amount of dairy I ate.

That’s when I discovered just how much dairy I included in my life. I cut it out of my diet for a week and realized that I felt physically better overall. No more uncomfortable to painful gassy episodes, no more bloating, and I just felt better than I had.

I wasn’t very good at cutting myself off from dairy. I constantly forgot — putting milk in my tea, ordering a latte with regular milk, and even buying myself ham and cheese croissants. It was beyond hard to stop eating cheese, especially. I felt like I had to relearn how to grocery shop, how to cook, and how to snack and eat dinner. Cheese was truly an integral part of my diet. So many things I was used to eating were no longer an option.

So I had to make an effort to cook things that didn’t require dairy. And, strangely, my cooking skills improved. I started making other foods for meals that I hadn’t tried before. I relied more heavily on my favourite Asian ingredients. I included a lot more vegetables. Something had to fill the void that dairy had left behind, and somehow that turned into me being better at cooking. I got myself a new knife that can actually cut food, and it was heavenly.

And then my body shape started changing. I was nursing and recovering from having a baby, which was making a difference, but that was nothing next to eliminating dairy from my diet. I’ve reached the point now where none of my pre-pregnancy pants fit me properly anymore becauseĀ they’re all too big. This is not a problem I ever expected to have; losing weight has never been a priority for me. But lose weight I have, and my body shape keeps on changing over time.

I miss cheese, chocolate, and butter, though. Oh, how I miss them sometimes. I sometimes stand in the dairy aisle at the grocery store and gaze longingly at the extra old cheddar and the artisan cheese selection. I make macaroni and cheese for Lyra at lunch sometimes, and it almost hurts me not to taste it. I miss making homemade mac & cheese, and topping my pasta with cheese, and eating cheese snacks. I miss milk chocolate bars, and milk in my tea, and cream cheese on a bagel, and butter croissants. But after the first two months, it got easier. These days I’m used to not eating dairy products, and while I have twinges of missing them, they aren’t part of my daily life anymore. Every so often I cheat a little, and both Pandra and I pay a bit for it, but it really isn’t as often as I though.

Adam complained over Christmas that people kept bringing us desserts and chocolates that I refused to eat due to the dairy content, so he was gaining weight. To be honest, I was surprised that my willpower won out over my intense desire to eat everything I was given, but even a few pieces of chocolate throw me off right now, so I do my best to avoid everything.

I am sad to not be able to eat my all-time favourite foods, but not as sad as I expected. It’s just this thing I do now, and life goes on. I feel healthier — for all I know I’ve been sensitive to lactose for a while, and nursing just intensified the problem. I can have dairy products in the house and not even think twice about it now — the temptation is minor at best. And I usually remember when I’m out at coffee shops and restaurants that there is cheese or butter in way more things than is obvious.

When Pandra is done nursing, will I still be lactose intolerant? I have no idea. I hope the answer is no, but if it’s yes then at least I know I can handle it far better than I ever imagined I could.

Now I guess I need to consider going out to buy some new pants that fit me. Or maybe I should wait and see how the learn-to-run clinic I’ve been doing goes?

Slow cooker macaroni and cheese recipe

I’ve been planning to make some sort of slow cooker mac & cheese for a couple of weeks now, but didn’t get around to it until today. When I mentioned this on Facebook, I got numerous requests for the recipe, assuming it turned out well. All I did for the recipe was surf a bunch of different google results for ‘slow cooker macaroni and cheese’ until I had a vague idea of the ingredients needed, bought them from memory (vaguely) and hoped I could piece something together.

I went with the basic mac & cheese, rather than doing anything interesting with it, for two reasons. One, my daughter is a picky eater and I wanted to feed this to her, and two, I wanted to make sure I had a good base recipe to start from before I started doing fun things. This is your plain, ordinary, super-awesome macaroni and cheese.

In the future, I would consider adding peas, cauliflower, or other veggies that complement cheese, as well as bacon, sausage, or chicken breast pieces. I’d also happily mix up the cheeses — either different types of cheddar, or a blend of cheddar, gouda, mozzarella, and whatever other cheeses I had lying around the house. Because I usually have them lying around the house. I’m not kidding. If I wasn’t cooking for a picky four-year-old, I’d add some pepper during the cooking process too. I’d also add some sour cream or cream cheese to see how that affected the texture and flavour.

Slow cooker Mac & Cheese

Half of a 900 gram box of macaroni noodles
1 tbsp olive oil (or vegetable oil if you prefer)
1 can (370 ml) evaporated milk
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
About 4 cups of shredded cheese (I used extra old cheddar, and probably closer to 5 cups by the time I was done shredding)
1/2 cup of melted butter

Here’s how I prepared it:

Cook your macaroni noodles prior to putting them in the slow cooker. I may try cooking them in the slow cooker at some point, but I think the amount of liquid in the recipe would need to be increased.
Pour the cooked noodles into the slow cooker. Add about a tablespoon of oil. I used olive oil.
It’s a can of evaporated milk! I bought the stuff that was on sale.
Add the evaporated milk with one hand while attempting to take an in-focus photo with your SLR with the other. Or skip the photo-taking step. Your call.
Add the non-evaporated milk, again using the same one-handed technique for effective photo-taking.
Stir, stir, stir. Add the salt and stir some more.
Take a break from adding ingredients to the crock pot and attend to the cranky infant. If you don’t have a cranky infant to attend to, please feel free to borrow mine. As a secondary option, you can also attend to a bored four year old. I have one of those you can borrow too.
My mom worked at the Kraft cheese factory when I was a kid. My fondness for Cracker Barrel Extra Old Cheddar is a part of my history. This was my cheese of choice for this recipe, but for a creamier, less sharp final product you may want to go with a milder cheese.
Pour the shredded cheddar in to the mix and stir well.
Mmmm. Melted butter. Finally, pour in the melted butter and stir. I never claimed this was a low-fat recipe.
Let it all simmer in your slow cooker for 3-4 hours on low. Stir occasionally.
Serve topped with pepper and some shredded cheese to be extra classy — and enjoy.
Other people’s children approve of this recipe. Ignore the yellow light. Oh crap you’re looking at it now that I mentioned it.
My own child approves of this recipe. And she’s the picky one.

Saturday lunchtime

It’s well past lunchtime – I should be out looking for something to eat, or getting groceries (as we have none.) I’m feeling pretty lazy right now, though. Was kind of hoping Adam would be home by now so I could get something with him… feeling a bit disconnected. He’s still out biking though.

This morning was quiet – Lorne went biking with Adam, and I watched Owen for him so he could go. He was back at about 12 to pick Owen up and take him to class, so I’ve been sitting around the apartment playing some guitar and singing for the cats and the baby. They seem to like it.

Yesterday I went out to Chilliwack with a couple of girls from work. It was fun – we did a Circle Farm Tour around the Chilliwack area, stopping at a cheese place, a pottery place, a bee place, a homemade soap place, an organic grain & flour mill, and a nice little farmer’s market place. I got proper cheese curds!!! We also stopped in at the Blue Heron refuge, which was pretty (and full of herons and red-winged blackbirds). It was 31 degrees and humid in the valley, so by the end of the afternoon I was quite ready to get back to Vancouver where the breeze from the ocean cools things off a bit.

For the evening, Adam and I went out to Krazy! It’s an exhibition at the Vancouver art gallery (opened today, we were at the members-only event last night as guests of Ben & Joanna.) It’s a comic book, animation, video game, anime and manga art show. Some very cool stuff.

All this delaying isn’t getting me any lunch. I guess I’ll go find something. Is it sad that what I really want is a fast food burger? I suppose it’s for the best that there’s no Wendy’s/DQ within walking distance.

Ultra Magnus is kicking like mad today. It keeps me entertained.

Friday things that got done

I managed to get downtown for the blood test, and I ate(thai lunch with the lovely lady Jessica downtown). I have not done anything else on my list, because instead of coming home after blood tests I wandered the downtown core with Eli. We went to the candy store where we bought lots of candy, then we walked down Robson in search of Bubble tea. I returned home around 4:15 and have been working on webby stuff since then. Now I think I am crashing from all that sugar, and may nap unexpectedly.

Friday night dinner is tonight, however. I’ll have to be awake enough to get to Lorne & Anne’s place…

Baking and work

I’m making meringues for Tea Time at work tomorrow. Every week at work on Thursday we have afternoon tea, hosted by a few members of staff. I signed up to host this week, and so I am making meringues. I’ve already baked a bunch, and they taste fantastic. I love meringues. Naturally I have bake something that I love… and I don’t think I’ve baked meringues in about ten years.

This morning the alarm didn’t go off. Adam woke up at 8:15am and sat up, which immediately woke me up. It was light out. I went into a panic. I start work at 8:30, you see, and it takes me just over an hour to get to work by transit. Not fun. Anyhow, I got up, got dressed, grabbed my pack and decided to drive to work to save a bit of time. Even with the bridge traffic, it took me only 40 minutes or so to get to work, so I ended up being about 40 minutes late. Thankfully no one seemed mad at me.

As it turns out, however, when I grabbed my backpack I forgot to grab my purse – as such, I drove without my license, and didn’t have any money to get a lunch. One of my co-workers lent me some cash to get a wrap at Capers, however.

I hate starting the day in a panic, it just puts me on edge for the rest of the day.

However, things are better now. I have meringues!

I heard the muffins call my name….

The first day at the new job is over (obviously) and I’m pretty sure it went well. I enjoyed it, and I didn’t feel overwhelmed by anything, and I think I’m gonna like it there.

I made muffins tonight, of the instant just-add-water-and-bake variety. Not ambitious enough to actually make muffins, plus my muffin tin only holds six muffins at a time so it’s tedious to make lots of muffins, which is how I prefer to do it when baking from scratch. As such, we now have six banana muffins with uber-chocolate chunks in them. They smell awesome, but I haven’t tasted one yet.

I must catch up on the Picture a Day project – haven’t uploaded in a bit.

The muffins, they call my name.

Almost pleased…

Tonight was gym night, and I did not fail in my efforts to go to the gym. Go me! Afterwards I biked home up the hill, which was a lot easier today than it was when I did the same thing after the gym last monday. I’m very happy about this. I was, however, winded by the time I got home. Now that I’ve showered and helped with the making of dinner, however, I actually feel like I have a lot of energy. I guess it’s starting to work, this whole ‘being active’ thing.

Except I have yet to lose even the tiniest bit of weight. That part I don’t really get – I’m eating less, I’m eating healthier, I’m going to the gym two days a week, mountain biking once a week and riding my bike up a hill home from work 4 or 5 times a week. Shouldn’t I have lost something?

I guess I will have to be happy with the fact that I feel a lot more energetic, and I’m not having too much trouble riding up the hill every night after work – it gets easier every time. The fact that it’s so easy to ride to work in the morning (all downhill, takes me less than ten minutes,) I think is the major part of why I’ve managed to ride consistently. If I had to go uphill in the mornings, I’d never do it. I don’t like mornings.

I got a butter chicken recipe from a girl at work that I hope to try on Friday. Yes, I know butter chicken doesn’t really fall into the ‘healthy low-fat foods’ thing I’m doing, but Friday is the day we do dinner with friends, and it’s nice to make interesting things when we do that. They are often healthy meals, but sometimes I just want to go overboard. And butter chicken is one of my favourite dishes of all time.