Thursday, October 23, 2008

Casein Free Milk and Butter

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Hey Guys - This is a really popular subject, casein free milk and butter and I wanted you to know that I have made an updated post, Casein Free Milk and Butter Part II, that covers more about this topic and goes into greater detail. Be sure to check it out, too!

      Normally when I write I mention using milk and butter and the recipe being vegan, I know this makes no sense but I suppose I mislabel these ingredients for normality's sake. I do use all gluten and casein free ingredients when I cook as a necessity of my severe Celiac's. Any ingestion of either of these and I have a headache, upset stomach lasting for up to two weeks, fatigue/brain fog and the oh so glorious hives and blisters. Many people are affected by the same issues and many have it much worse by being reactive to soy or nuts as well.

      Let me begin with some scientific mumbo-jumbo that will thrill us all:

      Casein, from Latin caseus, meaning cheese, is remarkably similar to gluten in cellular structure. Why is this significant? Some people are sensitive enough to gluten that even something that looks like gluten in their body will be attacked and treated the same way. Most hear about a gluten and casein free diet being used to treat or prevent further development of
Autism, but how can you treat or prevent this 'mystery' ailment? Much of this is based on lab results and a little on theories and nearly all of it is denied by modern medicine. Even Celiac patients can have a hard time getting their doctor to believe that in addition to their normal reactions to gluten, they have the same reaction to a pint of seemingly harmless vanilla ice cream. My allergist refused to do an allergy test on me but was willing to send me to a dermatologist to find out the reason I was breaking out in hives over ice cream.

      Even though the gluten and casein free diet, when followed properly, helps to improve the quality of life in 75% or more of the Autistic patients, medical research has concluded that the results were inconclusive to draw any real results.

      Double speak, no?

      This is not the first time that modern medicine has shunned proven methods due to the 'lack of evidence'. Take a look at Sister Elizabeth Kenny from Australia. She was never formally trained as a nurse (one reason
the American Medical Association might have stated she was, “an ignorant quack seeking money for her own gain”) but served local patients in Australia after opening her own hospital with savings. It was here that she treated her first polio patient. Her methods were suited to the ailments of the patients and did not generally follow the prescribed methods of treatment. Stiff joints were wrapped with warm compresses and loosened with massage because that is what she would do if she was just treating a normal stiff joint and not a polio patient with a stiff joint. This was at times a painful process for the child, but the results were astounding. This work continued for several years, she volunteered for World War I efforts on ships between England and Australia treating the injured and eventually came to America to promote her treatment methods. Here she faced criticism beyond belief. Most accounts of her life do not speak of this more than just in a passing statement or two, but her methods were seen as witchery in some parts. Sister Kenny treated Alan Alda, Hawkeye Pierce on MASH, Franklin Roosevelt, president, and Robert Anton Wilson, a notable writer and advocate of the methods used.

      The most intriguing part of this whole ordeal with Sister Kenny is that the common methods of treating polio were not working as well as her methods were. Even later in life after the patient has recovered from the majority of the ailments associated with polio, they still are never fully recovered – there is no cure for polio. The patients treated with the Sister Kenny method as a child often lived longer, were more able to contribute to society on a normal level and generally did not require leg
braces, wheel chairs or the like to get around as often as those treated with AMA standards for polio.

      Back to casein and Autism for the time being. I can almost guarantee the reason the tests were inconclusive is due to human error in following the diets. It can be challenging to find foods that are both gluten and casein free – even cheese and milk replacements can be filled with casein from whey or other milk proteins. Many people do not know the finer points of reading a label (or how to read one at all for that matter), and they just read the packaging assuming it is safe for their tot. If a doctor follows these type of patients and monitors their progress they would see scattered results with no doubt.

      Doing basic web research shows that one main reason people speak out against the gluten and casein free diet in the treatment of Autism, even with proven results, is the inconvenience with cost being a close second. This bothers me on so many levels. Why would not try something that could work and give someone you love the chance to live a normal life? Pure laziness is the only answer. The cost still an issue? Write it off on your taxes (yes, you can do that), apply for government aide, visit a food bank or take advantage of one of the other million things available to you and stop making

      Being on a gluten and casein free diet myself, I have tried seve
ral products that have become staples around my kitchen. Milk and butter are obviously what people think about first when they find they are casein intolerant. I use regular soy milk (check for added milk proteins of ANY kind), usually the grocery store brand, and it tastes and cooks fine. There was a time when soy milk was gross and gritty and tasted like liquid chalk, but I promise that has changed. For butter I use a vegan spread called Smart Balance. That company has several different lines of margarine, but the organic blend in the green container is gluten and casein free. It says gluten-free on the front label which is what attracted me to it in the first place. I have dabbled in casein free cheese a bit (read about that here), but have yet to find something that really sticks out in my mind as wonderful.

      For the most part being gluten and casein free presents the same issues as a solely gluten free diet does. There is maybe a bit more adapting involved like making lasagna without cheese, making sure the vegetables at a restaurant are not cooked in anything resembling margarine or butter and similar situations, but the lifestyle can be so rewarding in the end.

      Bread, cheese and ice cream are not worth ruining your health.


  1. I am very interested in your comment about writing off the cost of the gluten/casein free diet....I have 2 boys with ADHD and am doing research now about this diet. How would I go about writing it off, or doing government aides, etc. Any help would be great.

  2. Hey Cyndi - While I'm not a tax professional and you should carefully consider your own situation, the basics of writing off food expenses for Celiac's is as follows:

    It falls under medical expenses, so you will need a letter from your doctor for each person on a special diet stating that it is medically needed for them.
    You can write off the difference between the cost of a gf product and a regular product. Ex: GF bread costs you $5.99 a loaf, but would normally cost you $2.99, so you can write off $3.00 as medical expenses. This is where saving your receipts come in handy so you can prove what you paid for the items. With out copies of your receipts, you will not be able to do this.

    Another thing to remember is that to claim this expense, you will have to use the itemized deduction. This means that the total amount you are going to write off is greater than the standard deduction that the IRS provides for a person with 2 kids. For a single person, it's somewhere around $5k per year, so unless you're spending above and beyond that in medical and gf food costs, it's not worth itemizing.

    I tried to do this a couple years ago when I first went GF and I was vigilant about adding it all up and I only spend about $1,500 more per year than a person with out Celiac's on groceries. That did not push me over the $5k that that standard deduction would give me, so it was smarter for me to just take the standard rather than trying to itemize everything.

    Sorry this was so long, and I hope this helped a bit! I'll try to do a post about this soon - it is tax season after all!

  3. Patrica..thank you so much for the advice and information. Have you heard of people getting the deduction for an ADHD diet? I'm wondering if would have a hard time getting that 'approved'.

  4. As far as I know, as long as you have a letter from your primary care doctor or specialist stating that the diet is medically needed to keep you or your dependent healthy then you should be okay using that deduction I explained above. It might be hard to get a doctor to write you that letter for ADHD as there are many factors involved above and beyond dietary intake, such as lifestyle and environment, that make ADHD difficult to treat with diet alone.
    Always feel free to contact the IRS regarding the tax laws and what you can and cannot do. They are surprisingly helpful (ask to speak with a supervisor if you feel you need to) and knowledgeable about the tax laws and their duty is to help you pay your taxes properly. They want their money, hahaha!

  5. I recently tried a dairy free, soy free, gluten free ice cream made with coconut milk. The ice cream is called "Purely Decadent". I got the mango flavor and it was surprisingly delicious. I bought it at a Sprouts market and it's made by Turtle Mountain (Eugene, Or). It had the same consistency as ice cream and tasted like a tropical coconut/mango variety.

  6. I love Purely Decadent ice cream! Its just like the real-deal moo juice ice cream, huh? I couldn't believe it when I scooped into it and didn't have to chisel my way through the container like you have to with many soy or rice based ice creams. Thanks for the comment!

  7. I cannot get on board with the use of soy milk or anything with soy in it. It's known to trigger hypothyroidism and mimic estrogen in the body. You really should go for something like coconut milk or rice milk. If you look up soy you will find a lot of info on this. It's not fermented in these forms and are not good to have on a daily basis.

  8. I couldn't agree more about soy. Stay far, far away from it! I use almond or coconut milk, if you can't do those, rice milk works too.

  9. Hi. I live in a place where I cannot find these products. And my son loves milk. What should I do?

  10. Hey Anon - If you're in an area that doesn't have good access to non-dairy milk (I'm assuming that's what you're looking for), try ordering online! and have good products you can buy from. There are milk products that do not need to be refrigerated, you see them sometimes on the shelf at the grocery store. Almond, hemp, soy, and rice milks come this way. Once you open them, stick them in the icebox, but they last for a while unopened. As far as the butter goes, you could sub olive oil or even ask your grocer if they will order a product for you. Chances are if you want it, someone else does too!

    Good luck -



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