I have a confession to make. This post was written under the influence of bourbon-soaked gluten-free, dairy-free truffles. I met my adopted blogger, Alisa Fleming, at the last Blogher event, and instantly felt a connection to her. In January, we went to Lake Tahoe where she lives and she shared her snow with us and plied us with the aforementioned chocolates. She also gave my daughter a sparkly fairy wand. What can I say, I’m a sucker for dairy-free truffles and great conversation. Baby Yum is similarly impressed by sparkly toys. I’ve been waiting for her to put a gluten-free category on her blog so I could adopt her and tell you all about her. This month’s edition of Adopt a Gluten-free Blogger is kindly hosted by Lexie of Lexie’s Kitchen. Keep an eye out for her roundup, coming soon!
Alisa has had issues with dairy since she was a tiny baby, but she was brought up eating dairy and had no idea it was causing her severe illness until a doctor suggested she go dairy-free and she found her health problems literally disappear overnight. Ever since, she’s been dairy free and started an informative food blog called Go Dairy Free to help others make the transition. She self-published a fabulous, incredibly informative book by the same name in 2008. You can find her at that blog, on twitter as Go Diary Free and at her personal blog, Alisa Cooks. Many Celiacs are lactose intolerant when they are diagnosed due to damaged villi. Some recover and are able to have dairy again (barring allergy) six months to a year after they start a gluten-free diet. Others may feel better without dairy. While dairy seems to be fine for me, I have gone without dairy at various times, either out of concern for conditions of animals in the dairy industry (veganism), and most recently, in order to breastfeed my initially dairy-protein intolerant baby. I think many of us can learn a lot from dairy-free experts like Alisa, whether you are dairy-free full time or just choose to have some dairy-free, healthful meals.
The first recipe I made from Alisa’s blog was actually her Dairy-free Vegan Mint Truffles. I made them for a friend of mine who is intolerant for dairy, soy, and gluten. I mixed up plain cocoa truffles, peppermint candy truffles, and mocha truffles, and they were divine and made a wonderful Christmas present. I would have taken pictures, but of course by the time I made them it was dark and they just wouldn’t have been pretty by track lighting. But they were both pretty and delicious, trust me.
I made two other recipes from her blog for this adoption, and took pictures!.
The next recipe I made was her extremely creative rice-free and dairy-free cauliflower risotto recipe. I first discovered the joy of using grated cauliflower as a substitute for “rice” at Elana’s blog, and I was intrigued when I saw Alisa’s recipe for risotto. It used broth and a ground pine nut-nutritional yeast powder to provide a rich, cheese-like element, and I thought it was delicious. My cauliflower may have been on the small side, though. I grated the entire cauliflower and I only got 2 1/2 cups of “rice.” Maybe I should have grated more of the stalk. Anyway, a very clever and interesting recipe that I enjoyed quite a bit, as did my dairy-free Mother.
My favorite recipe I tried at Alisa’s blog has to be her Slightly Spicy Tofu and Avocado hand rolls. Slightly spicy is perfect for us. I reduced the srirachi sauce to 1/2 tsp to suit my DH’s delicate stomach and it was wonderful. I made her brown sushi rice recipe and then set to work on the tofu portion. Like Alisa, I prefer my tofu cooked and very firm. I deviated from the recipe a bit by pressing it for half an hour or so before I marinated and then pan-fried it. This gave me beautiful little cubes. This recipe was a real treat! I never get a straight answer about what is in their creamy sauces at Japanese restaurants, so I always avoid sushi in sauces. I loved the combination of very-slightly spicy tofu in a creamy sauce with avocado and sweetened brown rice. Yum. We took these hand rolls to our favorite date-night-with the toddler spot, a local drive in movie theater and watched a goofy movie and pigged out on these rolls. Delightful!
I also tried Alisa’s recipe for an “Orange Cheesy Sauce” from her wonderful book Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living on page 217, that she kindly gave me for review. In the future I’d like to make more of her recipes and tell you about them, but for now, I’ll just tease you with this recipe. It is gluten-free as written, requiring no adaption, and has an intriguing carrot and nutritional yeast base. I served it to my very traditional-meat and potatoes Dad as a cheese sauce with broccoli. He was surprised that I would serve such a traditional dish. Then I told him it didn’t have any dairy in it. He seemed to like it, and actually ate all the broccoli I’d put on his plate. I thought it was an excellent “cheesy” sauce substitute, and I was impressed that it didn’t taste overwhelmingly of carrot, but that they lent a mild sweetness to the recipe. I served leftovers with some yellow corn pasta. You might not be able to see the sauce, but trust me, it was there, and was wonderful. Even Baby Yum gobbled it up!
Alisa’s blog and cookbook showcase the best of the vegan cooking world and offers her own creative take on the dairy-free lifestyle. She offers invaluable information on why you should go dairy-free, how to read labels, eat in restaurants, travel, and of course, recipes to help you make your own dairy-free foods. I love her forays into International, Asian food on her blog, and appreciate her impressive collection of specialty homemade un-cheese solutions and milks in her cookbook. Of course, many of the baked goods in her cookbook are not currently gluten-free, but it would still be a great resource for anyone new to the dairy-free lifestyle. Alisa gives lectures and talks periodically, so keep an eye out for her. This is one to watch! She has also become increasingly interested in gluten-free cooking, so keep an eye out for her gluten-free recipes*.
Have you tried any of Alisa’s recipes? Please share in the comments!
Diane of the Whole Gang recently featured Alisa as a Food Rock Star. Looks like she will be relocating soon to my former hometown!
*Many (but not all) of her baked good gluten-free recipes on her blog do contain oat flour. I don’t happen to use that flour, darn it, but if gluten-free certified oat flour is part of your diet, enjoy!