The Nine Days are upon us once again. This historically sad period in Jewish history shouldn’t be made worse by allergic emergencies. If you (or your child) suffer from milk allergies (or lactose intolerance), planning meals for the nine days can be a challenge. During this time period of collective Jewish mourning, we refrain from deriving the pleasure and enjoyment that comes from consuming meat. Milchig meals during this time are very popular. For the individual with a milk allergy, strict avoidance of all dairy products is a must.
A true milk allergy is an abnormal immune system response to the proteins found in milk. Symptoms of a milk allergy can range from mild to severe. The progression of symptoms in severity can often be quick, degenerating into a life-threatening situation called anaphylaxis. Airway constriction during anaphylaxis is a potentially fatal situation if not reversed with prompt treatment of epinephrine. Many milk allergic individuals carry portable injectors in case of such a situation.
Lactose intolerance, while uncomfortable, is never fatal. Instead of the immune system kicking into high gear when milk is consumed, the digestive system wreaks havoc on the lactose intolerant person. Individuals with this condition lack a critical enzyme that breaks down sugar (lactose) in milk. If the lactose intolerant individual consumes milk, he can expect to experience a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas, and abdominal pain. Consuming dairy just isn’t a choice.
While dairy is not an option, there are some very satisfying alternatives for the Nine Days (and beyond). As kosher–keepers, we are already accustomed to preparing non-dairy (also known as pareve) items. Kosher dairy alternatives are readily available in supermarkets, health food stores, and kosher groceries. There are non-dairy versions of milk, cheese, cream and butter. Often these choices are soy-based but there are other options as well. One option for Nine Day meals is to pick a dairy recipe and use one of these substitutes. For many children who’ve been raised on soymilk and soycheese, this is no problem. Adults who consumed dairy all of their lives may not be as pleased with these alternative products.
Another option is making a dish that doesn’t call for dairy in the first place. Since dairy and meat products are sources of protein we’ll focus on providing alternative protein sources. Fish (sole, halibut, flounder, salmon), eggs, soy (mock “meat”, mock “chicken”, patties, tofu), beans (lentils, kidney, black, etc.) and quinoa are all great alternatives and often nutritionally superior to dairy. Quinoa is a great example of a complete protein and is quite an amazing food. It looks like a grain but actually grows like spinach. It is gluten free, very high in protein, and fiber, and is loaded with vitamins and minerals. It even has antioxidant properties.
Recipes with these non-dairy sources of protein abound in cookbooks and online.
For more great ideas about food allergies and substitutions, visit kosherfoodallergies.blogspot.com.
May this tragic time in history become a time of rejoicing soon!
Pareve Salmon Quiche
(yields 4 pies)
4 frozen piecrusts
2 large onions chopped and sautéed
2 cans red salmon (each can 14.75oz)
1 cup mayo
1 cup water
2 tbsp mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
Dried parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 375° Remove all spines and bones from canned salmon (drain liquid) Mash salmon in bowl Combine salmon, eggs, mayo, water, mustard and lemon juice till smooth Place sautéed onions on the bottom of each frozen piecrust Fill each pie with salmon mixture Garnish each pie with dried parsley Bake at 37°5 for 1hr or until golden brown on top
This recipe is too good to only use 9 days a year. Try it as a fish course for Shabbos, or a main dish for weekday!
Tamar Warga, MS is the author of author of A Taste of Freedom, a Passover allergy-related cookbook. Visit her blog at www.kosherfoodallergies.blogspot.com