Thursday, January 25, 2007

Book Review: "Dairy Free Made Easy"

If you are trying to avoid dairy products in your diet, you may have found the excellent Web site: The site is constantly updated with product reviews, articles, announcements, discounts, etc. To make the information even more accessible, the sites founder, Alisa marie Fleming has put together a book entitled "Dairy Free Made Easy: Thousands of Foods, Hundreds of Tips, and Dozens of Recipes for Non-Dairy Living."

This well-researched book gives detailed information about dairy products - what they are, how they are processed, what is so special about dairy milk anyway, and answers questions about organic vs. conventional dairy products.

For those avoiding dairy products for health reasons, there is extensive information about allergies, lactose intolerance, whether dairy can help you to lose weight or to gain it, whether there is a link between consuming dairy products and certain cancers, acne, migraines, and other ailments. There is also great information about infant milk allergies and steps to prevent food allergies in babies. Fleming includes information about why breastfeeding is so important but she gives a comprehensive breakdown of infant formulas on the market with the pros and cons of the various choices.

Probably the most common concern of those giving up dairy products is where will they get their calcium. Fleming does an excellent job of dispelling the myth that dairy products are the best source of calcium (they're NOT!) and gives excellent advise for getting calcium from food and choosing a supplement if you feel you need one.

Fleming goes on to list non-dairy alternatives for milk, cream, cheese, etc., recommending products you can buy but also including easy ways to make the substitutions yourself. There is a small section of recipes with some yummy sounding dishes like "Easy Dairy-free Lasagna, Cream of Mushroom Soup (I can't wait to make that one!), 5-Star Ranch Dressing, Chocolate Tofu Ice Cream and Dairy-free Cheesecake.

Another really excellently done section is the chapter on dining out. Fleming goes through the various kinds of restaurants and lists dairy-free options for each, for example, she says that most dishes at Asian restaurants (Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese) are dairy-free though they may contain eggs. At Mexican restaurants, she suggests tacos, fahitas, tamales, and burritos - but tell them to hold the cheese and sour cream. More importantly (I think), she clues you into dishes that you might think are dairy-free but aren't, e.g. she tells you to "Skip the Tandoor and kabob entrees. Though they may appear dairy free, these specialities are typically meats and/or vegetables marinated in yogurt." For curries, Fleming recommends going to a Thai restaurant as Indian curries are usually made with cream.

Other helpful sections in the book tell how to decode food lables, lists of ingredients that really mean dairy (e.g. lactose, caseinate, whey), and foods that may contain dairy - some that even surprised me like tuna fish, chewing gum, chicken broth, and breath mints!

A large portion of the book is dedicated to profiling non-dairy products (over 2,000). A nice feature is that the products are ALL free of hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. (YAY!) The foods are listed in a chart format that lets you know if the product is in stores on can be purchased online, if it's gluten-free, soy-free, vegan, processed on dairy-free equipment, and is kosher certified.

The book also lists resources for finding dairy-free products and cookbooks. Although this book is not vegan, it is an excellent resource for vegans and anyone avoiding dairy. If you suffer from severe dairy allergies, I would say this is a definite must-have.

One more thing - if you order the book through, they'll send you a whole bunch of coupons for dairy-free products. Also, as an added bonus for my loyal blog readers, you can get a 10% discount by using the coupon code "DairyFree10" at checkout - or give them the coupon code if ordering by phone (and tell they you heard about the book from this blog). The book is also available at

Sunday, January 14, 2007

GE Wine

Another new genetically modified food is scheduled to come to market this year: wine made with genetically modified yeast. As with other genetically engineered food, there will be no labeling required on wines that contain gene-altered yeast. The FDA has carried out no studies of its own on the experimental yeast, and yet has approved it as "safe," based completely on data provided by the company selling the product. According to Dr. Joseph Cummins, emeritus genetics Professor at the University of Western Ontario, wine yeasts are unstable, and genetically altering them can lead to unexpected toxicity in the final product. He states that there is no evidence that the developer did any animal feeding studies to test for such toxicity and that there is no proof that the yeast and yeast DNA will not be present in the wine.

To further complicate the problem, since wines containing GM ingredients are not labeled, people wishing to avoid them may have to boycott all US wines - or buy only organic of which there is not a very wide selection (though I like Frey Wines and Well Red which are organic). The other - and more pressing I think - problem is that even if just a few wineries’ choose to use the GM yeast, it could contaminate native and traditional wine yeasts through the air, surface waste and water runoff.

I urge you to contact your local and favorite wineries and urge them not to use GM yeast.

For a good article about this in the Napa Valley Register, go to

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Meat and dairy from CLONED animals coming soon

Every person who eats processed foods and non-organic meat and dairy is ingesting gentically modified foods whether they know it or not. Soon, another untested and shaky technolgy will be infiltrated into our food stream - meat and milk from cloned animals. The FDA's decision to allow the sale of meat and milk from cloned animals is another example of the agency’s yielding to industry pressure and disregarding consumer safety.

With only a handful of studies and long-term evidence, the safety of eating milk and meat from cloned animals is far from proven. Concerns about the lack of data on eating food from cloned animals led the National Academy of Sciences in 2004 to state that “the paucity of evidence in the literature on this topic makes it impossible to provide scientific evidence to support this position [that the food from cloned animals should be approved].” Aside from human health concerns, many people have ethical objections about cloning animals. The low survival rate and high number of deformities, as well as health problems like organ manfunction, digestive problems, and weakened immune systems in cloned animals raise animal cruetly concerns - not to mention the health of the meat and milk coming from this sick animals. Yet, as with GMOs, the FDA is not planning to require labeling of products from cloned animals.

If you are concerned about this like I am, you can take action by writing to the FDA. Here is a link where you can send an email: