Only a few months after giving birth, I noticed strange symptoms that seemed to be getting worse and worse with time. There were two occasions that really stick out in my mind. One happened right before we left for Florida last April and the other happened right before we left for Wisconsin last July.
It was a terrible sharp stabbing pain in my stomach that wouldn’t go away for days. I remember describing it to Matt and telling him how I felt like someone was stabbing me in the intestine and like my insides were swollen. Great description, I know. Thinking back to this point today…I do NOT miss that. It was terrible. I think at first I assumed the pain was caused from just giving birth, but by July, I was convinced that something else was going on.
One night in August, I made Matt’s favorite meal for dinner – stuffed shells. Afterwards, I remember sitting on the couch in pain and thinking to myself, “Well, obviously this is related to what I just ate. But what is in a stuffed shell that would give me such a horrible reaction?”….and then the lightbulb went on. Dairy. Nooooo….it couldn’t be. I had been eating dairy and downing glasses of milk all my life. I am Italian…I can’t be lactose intolerant. But, something needed to change. SO, I stopped eating dairy for a week and whala – I was cured. *sigh*
To top it off, we found out that August is also lactose intolerant. Don’t ask me how this happened. Such a random turn of events. It finally clicked for me that maybe he was lactose intolerant after the doctor switched him to soy formula when he had a virus. He went from projectile vomiting and fussy bottle eating (plus other symptoms that I will spare you from) – to eating normal and never vomiting. Poor guy.
When he was a baby, I made his baby food. Mostly because it’s much cheaper, but also because I wanted to know what I was feeding him. That was the point when the vomiting began. I was mixing his food with formula…and so now it all makes sense. He was on lactose overdose! Especially on those days when we fed him yogurt. Oy. That poor little belly of his!
Before he was born, I never wanted to feed him processed foods. BUT, as a parent I realize sometimes the convenience of a frozen chicken nugget, waffle, etc. is a luxury and a life saver when you are in a rush. I can’t feed August ANY of these things. We can’t even drive through Mc Donalds for a french fries (they have dairy…whaaaaa???) or go to get ice cream. This has made my life a tad complicated when we are traveling or in a hurry in the mornings before work.
On top of August’s lactose intolerance, he is also a semi-picky eater. He eats like a bird and likes mustard one day but spits it out the next. You never know what you are going to get with him! Add that to my husband’s love for cheese and also semi-pickiness and you have a real issue with your menu for the week. That being said, I have searched and searched and searched on the internet for a quick list of items to give lactose free toddlers for snacks, lunches, etc…but somehow keep coming up with barely any helpful results. Just like with people who blog about making baby food, the people who blog about making lactose free meals are usually moms who blog for a living and have more time to be making kale and flax seed muffins from scratch each morning for breakfast….ok this isn’t really a thing but some of the baby food and lactose free recipes I have found are absurd. My budget can either not afford the ingredients or they are not even something I would make myself…let alone my toddler who is going to throw it on the floor. While my lactose intolerance problem is solved pretty easily by avoiding dairy and taking Lactaid pills when I want to eat some, his is not.
Anyhow, my point is…over the last 4 months I have struggled really hard to come up with some easy meals and snacks that work with our fast paced lactose free life. And since I write a blog, I figured that maybe it would be nice of me to share some of my favorites with the world and maybe (JUST MAYBE) I would be able to help another mom struggling out there.
So, here it is. My list of snacks, meals, and frozen items for a lactose free life. Enjoy!
Probably the easiest meal to make frozen meals for. Most of the items on this list can be put in plastic bags and thrown in the freezer for a quick breakfast option at a later date. Just put the frozen item on a plate and warm for 1 min. WHALA! Instant breakfast.
If you make it with water or lactose free milk it is usually just fine to eat! Augie loves it! Plus, there are all different flavors, it’s filling, and it’s something that you can throw in your bag as a quick meal option for your kid incase you go somewhere and there is nothing they can eat. Always a positive. Bonus – if you buy the Quacker Oats individual packages the package doubles as a measuring cup. Woohoo!
Just make them with a little olive oil in a pan. Most people think scrambled eggs need to have butter and milk, but they don’t. Plus, you can add veggies and make an omelette in order to sneak in some veggies. Augie loves eggs so this is another fast go-to for us. Bonus – you can make individual omlette muffins in a muffin pan and freeze them for later :).
Easiest pancakes to make ever – only two ingredients. Just mix 2 eggs with 1 banana and that’s your batter. I got this recipe from Pinterest and I love it. August whines when he sees me making this from the time I crack the eggs to the time it’s on his plate. Definitely one of his favorites.
Waffles or Pancakes
Just make your regular recipe for waffles or pancakes and sub in lactose free milk and soy butter. Easy peasy. I usually make this on weekends or days when Matt is home in the morning with me. I love to make either or because it always leaves leftovers to freeze for later which is awesome. Sometimes I go all out and double my recipe so there’s even MORE leftovers. I’m a rebel, I know. If you do have leftovers to freeze, just put them in a ziplock baggie and call it a day. When you are ready to use them, pop them in the micro for about 1 min and you are good!
Toast and Soy Butter
Easy, quick, but efficient. Make sure that you are using bread that contains no dairy…somewhat hard to find, but it’s do-able. I have found that rye bread seems to have no dairy by default. There are also certain brands of white bread that also do not contain dairy like Bimbo. I love rye toast and so do Matt and August so it’s all good in our house. The soy butter we use is Earth Balance. I was nervous to try it, but it surprisingly does not have that much of a different flavor as one would expect. If my husband will eat it…then it’s not that bad.
Bagels and Hummus
This was always one of my favorites and it turns out that it is dairy free as long as you get plain bagels (at least the Thomas brand is dairy free, not sure about others). Hummus is also dairy free so that works out nicely. My favorite combo is probably a plain bagel with garlic hummus. Yum!
A strong contender. Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, etc. There are plenty of lactose free cereals out there. Obviously the milk is not lactose free, but you can use lactose free or soy milk. I like to eat it plain and so does Augie so it works out nicely. Also a good “on the run” breakfast if you can get your toddler not to spill it all over your car. Good luck with that.
Fruit and Smoothies
August is not a huge fan of fruit, but he does love banana. Obviously, fruit contains no dairy so this would be an awesome and healthy way to get your lactose free toddler to eat some breakfast. I try to switch things up a bit and give him a smoothie once in a while. He doesn’t love them, but it’s a good and tricky way to get him to eat his fruit!
Meat is a lactose intolerant person’s best friend. We enjoy a good breakfast sausage in our house. You should too.
For a while, I stopped making breakfast casserole in our house because it had cheese…however I have come to find out that the soy cheese really isn’t that bad if you mix it with other things. SO, now we have breakfast casserole that is half cheddar cheese and half Daiya Cheese…surprisingly tasty. Coming from a cheese lover, this is a big deal. Also, I obviously sub in lactose freefor regular in this recipe.
I was looking for one more thing I could make and freeze for Augie for breakfast and I came across this recipe for Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins. The recipe as is is not lactose free friendly, but I subbed in applesauce instead of the yogurt and added a little lactose free since the mix seemed a bit dry and they turned out really good! They are slightly sticky, but they taste fab.
I find that this is my least favorite meal to make lactose free items for. It’s hard, especially when you pack lunches in the morning and you are in a hurry! But here are some things I have come up with in these last few months.
Pizza Bagels or Pizza Bread
Another thing you can make ahead of time and then freeze which is fab. For these, I use Thomas’ Bagel Thins since they are lactose free. For the sauce I just mix tomato paste with a little olive oil, oregano, garlic salt, and basil to taste. Simply spread that on the bagel and cover with soy cheese. You can also add a meat of your choice, I usually put turkey pepperoni on mine. I pre-bake them in the oven under the broiler until the cheese is melted and then after the cool, I wrap them in wax paper and then foil and place in a plastic bag in the freezer for later. Yum!
Crescent Hot Dogs
I usually double my recipe for Crescent Dogs when I make them for dinner and then freeze the rest in individual baggies for Augie’s lunch. They are one of his favorites. To make them, I just cut turkey hot dogs in half, wrap them in a crescent roll and then bake according to the package directions.
A similar meal. Just use roast beef and soy cheese – wrap in crescent roll and bake according to the directions on the package. When I made them for dinner, I warm up some beef broth for dipping.
Tortilla Roll-Up With Hummus
Super easy to make. Just wrap lunchmeat (make sure it’s dairy free! Some isn’t :() in a tortilla that is spread with hummus. You can add veggies in if you please! I like to put cucumber in mine and use turkey pepperoni which Augie loves.
If you are in a big hurry, this is super fast and easy. I usually buy a package of turkey hot dogs to freeze just incase we are having one of those days and I don’t have time to make something else.
Chicken Sausage and Veggies
Same thing as the hot dogs, fast and easy to make. I like to make a chicken sausage for August and some veggies to make sure he is getting something other than meat.
Lunchmeat and Fruit
August isn’t really a fan of lunchmeat, but if your son or daughter is, this is also a super easy meal. you can give them fruit to go with!
Baked Potato and Veggies
August loves “tatos”. Since I try to mix it up so he doesn’t get bored with the lunches I am making, I sometimes make him a baked potato for lunch and mix in veggies. He won’t eat the veggies alone sometimes, but if you mix it with potato you are all good.
For the lactose free adult. I like to make big pots of soup or chili and freeze small containers to take for lunch. Nice and filling and easy to grab and go on those rather rushed mornings.
A huge positive when there are leftovers from the dairy free dinner you made the night before and you can give them to your kid as lunch the next day! Horray!
It has been a challenge for me to find meals that our whole family likes for dinner that are lactose free. Slowly, but surely I am figuring things out. Here is a list of some of my favorites.
Bonus for this recipe is that it’s super fast to make. The only thing that makes it semi-time consuming is the chopping. Overall though, great recipe. Also, it’s another one of those veggie hiding recipes which I love :).
Southwest Chicken Wraps
There are a few lovely lady bloggers out there who have shared some of their favorite lactose free recipes with the world. I have tried quite a few from the For This Season blog. This one is one of my favorites.
Taco Salad or Nachos with Fake Nacho Cheese
Speaking of For This Season, I have also made her recipe for nacho cheese sauce that is dairy free. Even my husband loved it! He asked for seconds and also said that he might actually like it better than real nacho cheese because it’s so flavorful. I need to make this one again soon :). You can also just make plain ol’ tacos, just be careful what brand of taco seasoning you buy as some contain dairy.
Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes
A winner in our house, always. I pretty much make everything as normal since the meatloaf I make uses oats instead of breadcrumbs. If you use breadcrumbs, just be sure you use a dairy free version or a Panko breadcrumb instead. When I make the mashed potatoes I just sub lactose free milk and soy butter for regular. They come out just as tasty!
A lot of pot roast recipes contain dairy, but they don’t have to. Here is one I like that doesn’t. I don’t get too fancy with it – I don’t have time to precook anything and I usually do not have half of these items on hand. SO, I put it all in the crock pot, make the sauce, and pour it on. Comes out fabulous.
Chicken and Stove Top
Yup, you can sometimes actually make something that comes from a box! Who knew? Stove top is dairy free and Matt loves it so it’s a win win. Just make sure you sub oil for the butter or use soy butter instead. As for the chicken, I usually just season with a little garlic salt and some herbs and cook on the stove. Done!
What is easier than a stir fry? Nothing. Whenever we are running low on food and the vegetables are going bad, we have stir fry for dinner. Just cook up your favorite meat with whatever veggies are in your fridge and add soy sauce. If you have tomatoes, that is a bonus because when they cook down they will add a little liquid to the pan and make a sauce with the soy sauce. when I am done cooking it, I add a little cornstarch to the mix just to thicken up the sauce a bit.
Breakfast for Dinner
You really can’t go wrong here. Refer to the menu for dairy free breakfasts above.
One Pot Wonder Tomato Basil Pasta
I miss cheese…and pasta…but I am learning to like pasta without cheese. This pasta recipe from Apron Strings is great because it is dairy free…but also because you throw everything in the pot and walk away. PLUS, it’s so flavorful that you don’t need cheese. Good stuff!
Summer Vegetables With Sausage and Potatoes
Speaking of one pot meals, this is another fabulous dairy free one pot meal from Skinny Taste. So tasty and a great way to get some veggies into your kids :).
One of Augie’s favorites I made the mistake of buying Craisins once…not realizing how much added sugar there is. We stick to just plain old raisins now…
Quick and easy snack when you are in a rush.
You have to make sure you choose one that is dairy free. I like Clif Bars, but they are a little hard for young kids to eat. If your child isn’t super sensitive to dairy, you can give them Nutri-Grain Bars. I do this with August because, unlike me, he is not that sensitive that small amounts bother him.
Dairy Free Popcorn
It does exist! There are brands of both microwave and bag popcorn that are dairy free. My favorite is BOOMCHICKAPOP.
Fruit and Veggies
A great option for kids who actually like their fruit and veggies. If you have a picky eater like me…move on to the next two options.
Baby Food Packets
A great thing to keep in your bag when you are on the go with a lactose free toddler. I don’t understand what the difference is between the actual fruit or a baby food packet that is fruit, but he loves these and won’t eat fruit. SO, I have resorted to buying the organic baby food packets to keep on hand for those days when he doesn’t want to eat much. That way he gets fruits and veggies during snack time and I feel good about not feeding him too much processed stuff.
Thankfully, this ALSO comes in a convenient squeeze package. Also a great way to get some fruit in on the go.
August’s favorite snack. We lie to him and tell him they are cookies…is that wrong?
Tortillas and Guac
Pita Chips and Hummus
Nice and filling but healthy…kinda.
So basically every dessert has dairy. There are a few things out there that you can buy at the store and not have a problem eating…but they are slim. I have realized it’s sometimes easier to just make things myself if I want something sweet just to be sure!
Best.Dessert.Ever. I love these things. Just mix some peanut butter with a smashed banana and spread it between two graham crackers. You can even freeze them for later!
Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream
Also something I love…(why do I like PB and banana so much!?). Just cut up a banana and freeze it until you are ready to make some ice cream. Once you are ready, take your frozen banana pieces and put them in a blender alone with a spoonfull of peanut butter and a splash of milk and blend. MMMM. You can do this with strawberries as well, but I had to add a little sugar to my mix with that one because it was a tad bland.
Dark Chocolate Covered Bananas
Love these. Diana’s Bananas rock! They are dairy free
Most definitely dairy free. I make mine with 1 can pineapple chunks, 2 bananas, 2 apples, 1 container blueberries, 1 container sliced strawberries, 1 container black berries, and peach pie filling. Cut up the bananas and apples first and then soak them in the pineapple juice. Then drain this and put everything together and mix.
You can buy pre-made crust and or make your own crust and enjoy a nice lactose free pie!
Homemade Cakes or Cupcakes
Also something you can make at home from scratch and make dairy free!
Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies
These cookies are the best. Just peanut butter, egg, and sugar. So good! Why haven’t I made this recently? Oh ya…
Sorbet or Italian Ice
Both dairy free, which is GREAT cause I love it.
Apple Pie Sandwiches
I have yet to try this recipe, but I plan to in the near future! Sounds fabulous!
On that delicious note, I think that completes my list. There is more to share, but this post is getting rather long. If there is more interest in my lactose free ideas, I will be happy to write another post! Please comment below if you would like more recipe ideas. I hope this helps someone out there who is struggling with living dairy free as I have.
More Lactose Free Posts For Your Enjoyment
Traditional Medicinals’ Eater’s Digest Tea
Lactose Free Camping Recipes
Lactose Free Dinner – Omelette Muffins
Lactose Free Dinner – Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken
Lactose Free Dinner – Stuffed Shells
* this blog post includes affiliate links for products I use and love.