Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Coconut Milk Ice Cream

When my daughter was about 2 months old we realized that she had some food allergies. Since I was breastfeeding the solution was not as simple as just changing the formula we were giving her. I considered changing to formula, but we had just gotten the breastfeeding working well and I didn't want to have to deal with the hassle of washing bottles and mixing formula, nor did I want the expense of hypoallergenic formula if I could avoid it. I knew "breast is best" (though it can be really hard if you don't have good enough support) so I was determined to give it my best shot. I started by eliminating dairy and substituting soy. Some of the allergy symptoms got better, some worse. Then I stopped eating all dairy and soy. At this point I was really glad for our local Co-op. They had all kinds of things that I could eat that didn't contain dairy or soy. Cutting the diary and soy helped a lot, but there was something else that was causing problems too. After eliminating various foods for 2 weeks at a time we finally narrowed down the problem to corn. At this point I was ecstatic that I had already known about the local food network, the co-op, Trader Joe's, etc before hand, it made cutting all of these foods doable. By this point there were very few processed foods I could have so I was stuck making almost everything from scratch. By this time I was having to watch everything I ate and answer a lot of people who kept asking "why not just switch to formula?" However, if you have ever looked at the ingredients on a can or bottle of formula you might know the reason. Almost every formula on the market in the US contains dairy, soy or corn. Even the hypoallergenic ones will frequently contain corn. We only had one option for formula and it was a ready-to-feed formula that cost $10/quart. Since most babies go through this much or more a day I was more than happy to cut my diet quite a bit to keep on breastfeeding.

I won't lie and say it was easy to do this, but there were some definite silver linings. The best thing was that since I could no longer eat most processed foods and had to watch what I was eating closely to make sure I got a good nutritional balance I was eating WAY healthier than I had been. This made loosing the baby weight while still feeling great a lot easier (I gained more than I want to admit here, lets just say there was a lot to loose and leave it at that). I also learned about a lot of great new foods and found some wonderful recipes. I would never have considered some of these things if my diet hadn't been so restricted, but now that my daughter has grown out of her allergies I still eat them because they are so good. One of these amazing foods is coconut milk ice cream. I found it at the co-op, but I've been told that they carry it at places like Whole Foods, Sprouts and Sunflower Market. This became my luxury. Anytime I was having a hard day or starting to feel like a martyr because I couldn't eat anything "good" I would sit down and have a little ice cream. While this didn't do much for my weight loss goals (and is probably why I still have a few pounds left), it did wonders for my spirit. My husband liked the coconut milk ice cream too, but before long we were going through a ton and it isn't cheap so for Mother's Day he got me an ice cream maker. Our basic recipe is super simple and quite tasty. It can be still-frozen in a pinch, but it is much better when churn frozen.

Coconut Milk Ice Cream
2 cans coconut milk (full fat, not light)
3/4 c. sugar
1-2 tsp. vanilla extract (I use 1.5 tsp, DH likes 2)
Pour the mixture in your ice cream maker and let it do it's magic until this looks like ice cream. To make an extra special treat top with strawberries, peaches or anything else that you would normally put on ice cream.

There are a ton of other recipes for coconut milk ice cream on the web, but this is a super simple one to get you started. If you store the drum for the ice cream maker in the freezer and the coconut milk in the refrigerator you can make this in 30 minutes while holding a baby in one arm. (I swear, I've done it and it really is that easy.) If anyone else reading this is interested in these sorts of foods or is dealing with an elimination diet please let me know. I've got a ton of recipes that I'll happily share.

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