Saturday, November 21, 2015

Ingredient Essentials

A Tour Through Our Kitchen

Our kitchen has certainly changed since Monica was diagnosed!  I've always enjoyed some weirder or more complicated aspects of cooking and trying new things in the kitchen.  I remember trying to make after-dinner mints when I was in elementary school and winding up with cookie tray upon cookie tray of mooshy, minty, blue puddles.  Yuck!

The first thing we changed when Monica was diagnosed at around 18 months was her milk.  We gradually switched her from whole milk to skim, a week at a time.  First we started filling her bottles (yep, she was definitely still drinking from bottles at that age) with a quarter of 2% milk, three-quarters of whole, mixed together.  After a week of that, she had a week of half a bottle of 2%, half of whole.  Then a week of a quarter whole, three-quarters 2%.  And so we went from whole to 2% to 1% to skim without much difficulty at all.  It took a long time, but just by this one change we were able to drastically reduce her triglycerides.
We do drink organic milk when we can, but there's nothing wrong with drinking conventional.  With milk, we are a little worried about hormones in the milk affecting our girls.  But if money or groceries ever came down to choosing conventional milk or no milk at all, we would be buying up that milk, no matter what!

The hardest thing for us to do without was cheese.  What I did at first was learn to make my own; we were living in Las Vegas at the time, and I was able to get milk from Trader Joe's that would make a survivable mozzarella.  The hardest part of making milk, in my opinion, is finding milk that will actually turn into cheese instead of, well, mush!  I had many many heartbreaking episodes.  I used recipes and supplies from The Cheese Queen and would make large batches and freeze what we weren't going to use soon.  I made mostly mozzarella and sometimes cheddar.  I rarely ate it myself because it was so precious; we would really only use it on pizza for Monica.  It was crumbly and not particularly flavorful, but it was full of calcium and it melted sufficiently.

Then a miracle occurred.  Look what we found at Whole Foods:
I am still amazed that this exists.  I want to buy stock in their company.  I rarely get to go to Whole Foods anymore, since we live in a much smaller town without one nearby, but when we go to the city or visit family, I literally buy them out of this stuff.  It freezes great.  It's admittedly ridiculously expensive, something like $6.90 for each of these blocks.  But man.  We never let it go bad since we freeze it, and it melts beautifully and Monica loves it.  And, perhaps most importantly, I don't have to deal with the hassle and stress of making (and often failing) at making cheese.  HURRAY!

These are sold at our local hippie shop and I couldn't believe the ingredients.  No, really, I asked the shop owner to call her supplier to confirm (another reason I love this store).  Can you read the ingredients?  I made it extra big to try... just flour and salt!  That's it!  So lovely!  Admittedly, we will often lightly fry these in olive oil as a special treat for those of us without LPL, but being able to serve the same food to everyone in our family feels so good.  My next project might be to try to get good at making these myself at home, since we won't be living in this town forever.  Nothing like having a backup for my first few attempts that might fail right when dinner requires their success!

Sauces are key.  At least for toddlers.  Look at all these vinegars that we have on hand all the time for different flavors!  White wine, balsamic, red wine, and rice; lemon juice can really kick flavor up, too.  My husband has become quite the sauce-maker!

Sometimes a from-scratch dip or sauce is too much to ask for.  Ketchup, barbecue sauce, fat free salad dressings, even pickle relish and sauerkraut all can save the day.

Our girls seem to adore anything with tomato sauce.  We make a giant batch about once a month and freeze some of the jars, but we will use a store bought sauce, instead, in a pinch (canned or glass both work great, check the nutrition facts on jarred sauce though!).  Soy sauce is another key item that Monica will eat as a dip or a sauce.  Molasses is a nice sweetener for my girls because it packs some extra iron for nutrition (apparently girls who don't get enough iron end up having more trouble in school, interesting!).  Maple syrup and honey are handy for turning a regular snack into something special without any fat, in addition to a fat free topping for pancakes and waffles.

There's the honey!  Yum.  Jellies and jams are fat free.  We like to have a jar with a lid poked with holes, filled with a cinnamon/sugar mix for putting on top of toast or snacks that could use a little extra something.  Like sliced apples.  Delicious!

Greek yogurt and fat free cream cheese are for the times when you need a little creaminess, or a creamy dip!  I'll even add these to peanut butter, to make a peanut buttery dip that's lower in fat and higher in calcium.  Win-win!  The yogurt pictured is a container of full fat yogurt that I have filled (see the label on top in marker? ha) with yogurt that I made myself with a perpetual culture that I bought from Cultures for Health almost a year ago.  It's lasted that long!  It might be cheaper to make organic yogurt than to buy organic yogurt, but I'm not positive.  It certainly uses less packaging, and I find it easy and enjoyable.
The blurry cultures that we use the most - sourdough (for our pizza crusts) and Greek yogurt.

Another way to add creaminess to a dessert or sweet recipe; fat free sweetened condensed milk.  Apple sauce is the classic baking substitute for butter; moist baked goods without the fat!

I bought this years ago for a biscuit mix for backpacking, but I'm starting to use it in Monica's baked goods.  One teaspoon is supposed to replace one egg, but I'm finding it's a little too strong at that ratio!  It contributes to the 'gumminess' of baked goods, the 'stick-together-ness,' if you will.

What about desserts?  Angel Food Cake is a staple; I once found a box that listed a recipe for how to make angel food cupcakes that I cut out and will save forever.  Elementary aged kids just HAVE to have cupcakes sometimes, it seems.  I'll top it with an egg-white-and-sugar frosting, or with sliced fruit or a sugary fruit sauce.  We keep a few, pre-frosted, in the freezer for emergency cupcake needs (what, you've never heard of those?  They happen.  Mostly when parents at school don't give us a heads up that they're bringing treats for their kids birthday.  Monica has been the kid in the corner trying to look cheerful sipping water as the kids around her demolish their brightly colored sugary treats one too many times for this mom...).

This is our favorite brownie mix ever, an awesome find at Trader Joe's, that I believe they have discontinued.  The best part was that they had a single serving size recipe that has helped us immensely in tight, last minute, fixes.  Like before Thanksgiving (What?!?  No pie that she can eat?!??) or other kids birthday parties for which I didn't plan ahead.  You mix two tablespoons of the mix with one tablespoon fat free greek yogurt, stir it up real well in a mug, microwave it for a minute, et voila. Add marshmallows or sprinkles for extra gold stars.  Anyway, I'm currently using my last box to compare my experimental mixes with, to try to make something myself from scratch in case I never find it at Trader Joe's ever again.

If you have a sorbet or cupcake that is less-than-exciting (definitely happens with baked goods are this house, often), sprinkles are a great way to save the day.  The bigger granule types can sometimes have small amounts of fat.  The tiny crystal types are basically colored sugar and are totally fat free.  Or put some chocolate syrup on top, also fat free.  Or both!

Dream whip is powdered whipped cream that you can mix up with some fat free milk for a last minute dessert topping.  I know they sell 'fat free' whipped topping at stores, but my general rule is that if I can choose between a food that will go bad, and a food that seems to never go bad, I choose the food that can go bad.  Preservatives?  Real-foodiness?  I'm not sure.  I don't know if I'm supported by science in this, but that frozen whipped topping weirds me out.  Dream whip, less so, but it's still not something we eat on a weekly, or even monthly, basis.  The Jell-O pictured I've had for at least 5 years... but the real gelatin that we use isn't nearly so pretty.  It's off-white and in a giant bag since I use it a lot.  I use recipes from Kitchen Stewardship that consist of just gelatin (from Azure Standard) and juice to make jigglers that the girls love.  Not too much sugar + fun shapes and colors = dessert!

The few other LPLD folks I've ever met swear by these, so I searched far and wide to find them.  They are fat free and have chocolate and marshmallow and are so tasty that even people withOUT LPLD love them.  I buy boxes and boxes whenever we find them.  It is so hard to find chocolate things that Monica can eat (pretty much this, chocolate syrup, chocolate brownies that I've already mentioned... that's it.  LPLD is rough on chocolate-lovers).

For snacks, a fruit leather is perfect for all my girls.  Well, not very filling, but it's something that everyone can have, at least, and can live in my purse forever in case of emergencies.  These are my favorite, sold by Azure Standard.  They are thicker than you would expect any fruit leather could possibly be and are all delicious.  And I can buy them in bulk!

Finally, for the small amount of fat that my lovely LPLDers DO get to eat, how do we make sure it's the best, with lots of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K!) and essential fatty acids?  I'm currently figuring out how to make breastmilk work; they make fat free formula for babies, but in my opinion, if your baby hasn't had pancreatitis yet, then the benefits of breastmilk outweighs the scary high triglyceride levels!  I'll keep you posted on how things go with Teresa, our newly diagnosed 6 month old, and the milk separator that I have ordered (from the Ukraine.  Huh.)  Our geneticist recommended that Monica get 1 mL of walnut oil every day when she was first diagnosed.  It is chock full of lots of good things, but how do you get a kid to swallow straight oil?  For about the next two years, I would get an ice cube tray and put 1 mL of walnut oil in each spot, followed by two small spoonfuls of sugar and one small spoonful of cocoa powder.  I would mix each cube spot meticulously, and then Monica would get to eat a scoopful of her very own 'chocolate' every day!  We kept it in the fridge and it worked well, but now I use the walnut oil in muffins for her, and hope it adds up to approximately the right amount of good stuff, even if she doesn't eat a muffin every day.  She is also older now and eats a greater variety of food in general, as opposed to as a toddler, when a day's intake might include three noodles and an apple slice, and that's about it.  A toddler will ALWAYS eat a spoonful of sugary, gritty, oily chocolate, it turns out.

That's maybe the hardest part of raising a child with LPLD; balancing enough fat for brain development without getting close to pancreatitis.  So we do try to make sure she gets some fat every day, and try to make it the best possible fat.  Coconut oil is a great one.  Eggs aren't pictured but we use frequently (5 g of fat each!), both whole and separated for their whites (mom and dad get more cream brulee and home made ice cream with lots of egg yolks, darn!).  We can get free range eggs from our hippy shop that are delicious with bright yolks.  I've rendered my own lard from local grass-raised pork that I sometimes cook with.  Olive oil is the go-to fat for our whole family in cooking and sauteeing.  I try to use grass-fed butter on the rare occasions that Monica gets any.  Finally, a frequent and popular snack is a few (10?) almonds or pecans.

So that's a basic run down of how we take care of Monica in the kitchen.  I hope this helps encourage anyone with a new diagnosis that there really is a TON that you can still eat!  Please comment with what you wish to know more about - how I do something, why I do something.

1 comment:

  1. oh my gosh! where do you live?
    I'll ship you Snackwells and Cheese if you ship me some DRY cottage cheese from your store. :)