This is totally based on rumor and speculation (if you have any solid research confirming this please pass it along) but I have heard that a celiac's reaction to casein (the dairy protein) may diminish after they have been gluten free for a while. The rumor goes that dairy products are absorbed by the ends of the villi that line the small intestine. As we all know, it is these villi that are damaged by celiac disease. So once the villi heal (from being on a gluten free diet), in theory, the ability to eat casein products should return.
I have been casein free for three years now - before that I did not even realize that I had a dairy allergy. I did not like milk or yogurt or cottage cheese, but would still slather the butter on bread and ate plenty of ice cream.
When our family went gluten free, we started eating more dairy - for the first time in my life I ate yogurt and more cheese than normal. While going gluten free had the effect of making me feel awesome, a few months into the diet and I started feeling terrible again. I thought I was going to die. My stomach symptoms were worse, I had a never ending sinus infection, bladder irritation, but worst of all was the brain fog. I remember trying to drive to the grocery store, and it was like I was intoxicated - literally, I was in a total and complete brain fog as if I had been partying all morning long (regrettably, my car has some of the dents to prove my alerted mental state).
I was stumped as to why I felt so bad - my regular doctor blamed it on stress and wrote me a prescription for Lexapro. Believe me my life was stressful, but thought it had to be something more. So I decided to visit a naturopath. Much to my surprise, the blood work came back that I was having a reaction to all things casein-related. Hence, the dairy free phase of my life began (and my symptoms went away. In fact, my dependence on antibiotics for my chronic sinus infections completely went away).
Back to the present, based on the theory mentioned above, I was hoping to reintroduce some dairy back into my life this year. I don't really miss milk (almond milk works just fine in coffee and as a baking substitute), yogurt I can definitely live without, and I have even come to "like" soy ice cream (have you tried the Purely Decadent blueberry cheesecake - yes it is gf as well).
But it is cheese that I miss - melted cheese on a pizza, in a quesdilla, in a yummy cheesy breakfast casserole - quiche!! And I am sorry, but that soy cheese just does not cut it. In fact, I find it rather disgusting.
So I embarked on an experimental diet modification this week and started having a little cheese - just some melted Parmesan on my baked potato skins, a cheesy cracker from Outside the Breadbox(fabulous btw), some Parmesan-laden pesto on my gf pasta. Hard cheese is not supposed to contain as much dairy protein as other products such as milk.
Oh it tasted so good and I thought everything was going okay.
It is amazing how I ignored the symptoms.
Then last night, I was laying on the Middle Kid's bed listing to her practice Shakespeare and lamenting the headache I have had for five days. I was actually contemplating out loud going to the doctor to see if I had a bacterial infection of some kind. Then I recounted my other symptoms, a slightly runny nose, stomach ache, bloated feeling, (some other more private symptoms you don't want to know) . . . to which the Weekend Chef commented "isn't this corresponding to you eating dairy again."
Dah!!!!!! I so wanted cheese to reenter my life, that I was ignoring the symptoms!!
I have two more days left of my experiment - I decided to give it a week. I do think that after not eating some food group for a while, our bodies will react to it when it is first reintroduced. (Like drinking alcohol - you lose your tolerance for it when you abstain for a while). So I will give it two more days and see what happens.
And no, I do not recommend this experiment for home use without first consulting a doctor!!
For more information on our casein free lifestyle, see my website at Living Casein Free.
In the meantime, here is a great recipe for Tomato Soup. The weather in Seattle has been down right frightful. Some warm soup is the perfect antidote.
After all of the holiday cooking and gorging, we are all in mood for some simple healthy meals. This one is a favorite and it is easily made casein free!!
Wonderful Tomato Soup
3 T olive oil
1 large white onion
2 carrots, chopped
3 minced garlic cloves
5 large tomatoes chopped - if you do not have fresh tomatoes you can use 2 14.5 ounce cans of diced tomatoes
1 T tomato paste (freeze the leftover paste for later use)
2 t sugar
1 1/2 T dried basil or 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 cups chicken broth
1 T salt (or to taste - we always add a little more)
2 t pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream (or a casein free alternative such as almond milk)
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium low heat. Saute the onions and carrots until tender, about 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt and pepper and stir well.
Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes are very tender.
Process in a food processor to the desired consistency. The right consistency is up to you - the Gluten Free Kid likes it chunkier, the Middle Child likes it smoother (this is her favorite soup).
I get tired of washing the food processor, so I use a hand held stick blender to process it. I actually love my Cuisinart SmartStick Hand Blender CSB-76 Be warned, you have to be very careful or you will have tomato soup splattered all over you kitchen.
Add the cream or the almond milk at this point. Since I am the only one who is casein free, I take out enough soup for me and add almond milk to it and then I add cream or whole milk to the rest of the soup. My family has taste tested both and say they actually like it better with the almond milk - it was more flavorful.
Reheat as needed.
Serve with tostitos or if you are feeling really ambitious whip up some Chebe bread sticks.
We like this soup so much that I double the recipe so the kids can take the leftovers to school for lunch.
Until next time . . .. happy gluten free eating!