The Dairy Free Cooking Challenge: Changes

I have been struggling with this challenge a lot.  I’m going to change it.  I am re-naming it “The Dairy Free Dinner Challenge” as my friend Angela was calling it from the beginning.  Why?  What’s up?  What kind of loser am I?  I was afraid you might ask that.

I have to lose 100 lbs.  I can’t do it not cooking with dairy.  I know that sounds all wrong.  I should find it easier to do because no dairy means a lower fat diet.  Right?  RIGHT?  Yeah, well, going from eating a crap-ton WAY TOO MUCH dairy to not cooking with any dairy is a huge shift and the biggest problem is that I am not satisfied with most of the food I’m cooking.  I have only had pasta once or twice in the past couple of months because I don’t like pasta without Parmesan cheese on it.  I tried a vegan version of Parm cheese and didn’t like it.  (It tasted good to me by itself but I didn’t like it on the pasta).  The only thing that makes my food remotely good is a lot of avocado.  But I can’t have avocado with every meal.

Basically – I don’t want to cook.  I cook and I don’t feel excited about the food I’m eating.  So then I binge on take out food with cheese.  I’m eating cheese enchiladas two times a week to satisfy my desire for tasty and satisfying food.  In case you don’t know it – cheese enchiladas with beans and rice and salsa and guacamole and tortilla chips is pretty much my favorite meal on earth and I could eat it every day and that meal is over 1,000 calories.

I need to not eat out so often for financial and health reasons.  Going out to eat is the only food I look forward to eating anymore.  Normally I go out to eat mostly for the fun of hanging out with my family in a festive environment but my home cooking is better than I can get at most restaurants.  At least – when I’m cooking the food I know how to cook which includes dairy.  I started this challenge because I want to eat a lot less dairy than I am used to eating for health, for sustainability, and ethical reasons.  That goal has not changed.  This challenge was about building a repertoire of dairy free meals that I can be excited about – to learn to cook excellent dairy free meals.

But losing weight is way more important to me right now than anything else.  I’m obese and I know what I need to do to lose it and I keep tripping up and sabotaging my efforts because I don’t feel satisfied.  I want yogurt and fruit for breakfast and I don’t want substitute yogurts made from soy or coconuts or almonds.  Instead I get super hungry because nothing sounds good for breakfast and I make an enormous portion of tofu and toast with tomato and avocado and then I slather that with a cup of ketchup to satisfy that – whatever the hell it is that dairy satisfies – and it’s too much food.  Then I eat a delicious dairy free salad for lunch.  But then I’m hungry again and I don’t know what the fuck to eat.  No pasta… I’m not a rice girl… I could make couscous again I guess… but then I just give in and go get a big combo plate of enchiladas.  Spending money I need to not spend and then, since I’ve already ruined my calorie count for the day I may as well forget about it and do whatever I want and drink as much beer as I feel like.  This is not good.  These are not healthy behaviors.

So I’ve decided to keep learning to make dairy free dinners and build my repertoire and my ultimate goal is unchanged.  I do feel that a diet with a lot less dairy is the healthiest thing to do for myself.  The difference is that I need to give myself a lot longer to reach that goal.  I thought that simply diving in and not cooking with any dairy at all would be the best way to learn to cook without it.  I was wrong.  This is not the best approach for me.  I know what I can cook and eat and be satisfied with while still losing weight.  I did it before.  I lost 40 lbs while still eating cheese and everything I like to eat – I leaned things up a little and developed the self discipline to not have seconds and not have huge portions but I still loved the food I was eating and felt satisfied.

So I’m going to bring dairy back into the house but I’m going to keep developing dairy free meals so that I can build a repertoire of vegan food that satisfies.  One of my best resources is my friend Chelsea who is an excellent cook and who is lactose intolerant so though she eats meat – when we cook together it’s vegan.  She’s got so many meal ideas that sound amazing that don’t involve dairy – so I look forward to learning from her.

And now – it’s almost noon and I haven’t eaten anything yet and I don’t know what to eat because I’ve got no avocado, no bread, and nothing sounds good.  I guess I’ll fry up some potatoes.  That will have to do for lunch.

6 thoughts on “The Dairy Free Cooking Challenge: Changes

  1. Diane

    I hope you don’t feel bad about changing your challenge. Adjusting your food intake to meet your health needs, etc. may need to change day to day to meet your long-term weight-loss goals.

  2. Chelsea

    Thanks for the lovely compliment.

    Well, I think you have accomplished something overall: living without dairy in your home for about 2 1/2 months IS an achievement. Now you can add more variety back into your diet, especially for breakfast. You cannot live on eggs and tofu alone! Perhaps cheese can become a condiment, instead of the focus in your meals.

    God I miss feta…

  3. angelina Post author

    I definitely don’t feel bad. My ultimate goal is just to eat less dairy and so my challenge is not done but simply doesn’t have a time frame for achievement. What I want is to learn to make food without dairy that I can get really excited about. And I believe I can do this but that I have a lot to learn to get there. In the shorter term I need to have the freedom to cook the things I know how to cook at the same time that I’m learning new tricks. So I don’t feel I’ve failed – I feel really relieved. I don’t intend to buy enormous blocks of Tillamook like I used to. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. angelina Post author

    Chelsea – I’m so looking forward to all the cooking adventures we’re going to have! I just realized we were going to cook today so I guess I better email you for the full scoop! Cheese as condiment – that’s the general idea. I do want to use ricotta which tends to be the main attraction in meals but I also want to experiment with seasoning tofu to use where I would have used ricotta. The main things I feel like I’ve been missing and having a hard time with is no yogurt and no Parmesan and no sour cream. A big bowl of bean chili with no sour cream is tough – though there was that one amazing batch I made that I didn’t miss it on. I haven’t missed the feta as much as I thought I would which is weird since it’s one of my favorite cheeses.

  5. simply.belinda

    good tasty vegan food, that appeals to the non vegan, truly is a skill.

    Both as cooks and eaters we all have dietary ruts and boy are those that have been with us for much of our lifetime a challenge to move away from. I hope allowing yourself familiar along with the new is the thing you need to nudge that rut in the direction you wish it to go.

    Kind Regards

  6. angelina Post author

    Thank you Belinda! I already feel more freed up and have some dairy-free meal ideas I want to try.

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