Dairy-Free Lifestyle: Three Challenges and Tips on How to Overcome Them

Have you ever thought about going dairy-free? What would it be like to stop consuming milk, cheese and butter? What is your goal when making such a big lifestyle change?

Two weeks ago, I decided to cut out dairy from my diet, as much as possible. Living in Japan and not being able to read/speak Japanese, makes it challenging to know whether or not a dish/snack has dairy in it, but I am doing my best. This decision was a hard one to make but a change that needed to be made. I’ve pretty much have always had acne on my body. However, I’ve always equated it to stress or external factors. I’m not saying that those don’t play a part in my acne, but when I a little while ago I noticed my acne got worse.

Since I’ve been in Japan, I’ve developed an allergy to milk. If I have a little bit of milk, my sinuses flare up, my throat gets itchy and my stomach doesn’t feel well. The next day, I will get a breakout somewhere on my body. The tricky thing was when I ate cheese, ice cream or butter, I never had any of those initial reactions. However, I would have some kind of breakout. It didn’t matter what I used on my skin or how much I exfoliated, I would have a breakout.

Since going dairy-free, my skin has cleared up a lot. It’s not perfect but I wasn’t looking for perfect skin; I wanted manageable skin.

Before I went dairy-free, I didn’t do any research. I don’t recommend doing that at all. You should always do research before making major changes in your diet. If you are considering going dairy-free, here are some changes that might happen:

1. Hunger
Fat helps you stay fuller longer. Having some sort of fat in your meals allows you to digest your food slower. If you cut out those fats, you are going to get hungry faster.
Usually, I don’t eat a lot of fat nor do I cook with a lot of fat. I usually use grapeseed oil for most of my cooking, olive oil for certain meals and butter for baking. I did enjoy a nice ice cream sandwich from 7/11 or topping off dishes with cheese. When I stopped eating those foods, I was hungry. Now, I’m getting better at supplementing those filling ingredients with dairy/lactose free options. For example, instead of eggs with cheese, I’ll eat eggs with avocado and nutritional yeast.

Tip: Research good and satisfying foods/products that can help you during your transition.

2. Cravings
The first three days, I was craving ice cream. I wanted an ice cream sandwich from 7/11. I mean, it’s difficult to cut things out of your diet. If you do want to go dairy/lactose-free, be prepared to fight off the dairy demons telling you to buy that ice cream cone.

Tip: Look up come dairy/lactose free dessert recipes if you are craving something sweet and creamy.

3. Cooking/Eating Out
Cooking at home is fairly easy depending on how much you know about food. I cook almost every day and I know why foods with dairy taste and cook better than foods without. When you take away that dairy option, you have to start researching dairy-free alternatives that will achieve similar results.

Eating out can be challenging. I don’t eat out often, but when I do, especially now, I try to avoid foods that look like they might have dairy in them. If you live in a foreign country like I do and can’t read the language, Google translate will become your best friend. You can easily translate the ingredients on the back of packages to see if the food contains dairy.

Tip: Become acquainted with the local foods in your area. If you know how to make them, then you will know what to avoid.

Overall, going dairy-free has been a good challenge for me. It’s not easy but giving up anything isn’t easy.

Links to dairy-free articles:
https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/dairy-free-diet-skin-effects
https://www.today.com/health/why-fat-your-diet-good-weight-loss-glowing-skin-t102800
https://www.health.com/nutrition/eliminate-dairy-diet?slide=467877#467877

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Coloring Buttercream: Three Steps to Making Beautiful Buttercream


Adding a pop of color to buttercream makes your baked goods more appealing. However, there is a fine line between seeing beautiful colors and tasting food dye. I’ve had to learn how to make buttercream taste execellent while still managing to add bright and dark colors. Here a few tips and tricks to making colorful buttercream:

1.Choose your colors before making the icing
When I want to color buttercream, I consider who I’m making the baked good for, what event will I bring it to and when it will be hosted. If it’s someone close to you, then you probably know their favorite color. However, think about what colors they wear the most or if they have a certain theme for their party.

2. Consult the internet
After I’ve narrowed it down to two to three colors, then I think about gradients. My go to website is the Frost By Numbers guide on the Food Network website. This helped me a lot when I first started baking cupcakes and cakes. The guide offers various colors, gradients and how many drops of food coloring to use.

3. Don’t be afraid to make new colors
The first time you try to make a new color, it may or may not work out, but don’t be afraid to try. I’ve had made some interesting colors, but I didn’t throw out the buttercream. I would pipe it out using different tips, save the shapes and use them on a different baked goods.

These are few tips to creating a nicely colored buttercream. If you have have anymore tips, feel free to share them in the comments section below.

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Matcha and Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Roses

A few weeks ago, I saw a post on Twitter by food blogger, Molly Yeh, about her Rose Rose Cake. The cake looked beautiful and I knew I wanted to try to make it. I had been wanting to make something that was challenging and that I could experiment with color.

It took a full day to make the cake. That was shorter than I expected because originally I thought it would take two days. First, I made the Matcha Chocolate Cake. I needed to make it ahead of time to allow enough time for it to cool. Then, I made the buttercream. In order to make the pink and orange frostings, I referred to this chart. The chart was helpful because I don’t have enough experience mixing colors, and I hate when frostings have too much food coloring. I think it tastes bad. After making the frostings, I turned the air conditioner on in my living room in order to keep the frosting from melting while I worked with it.

In Molly Yeh’s post, she mentions that she used a Wilton Flower Nail Decorating tool. I didn’t have that and I wasn’t going to go look for one, so, instead, I used a pizza saver with two of the legs cut off. I still went through the process of attaching a small square of parchment paper to the top of the pizza saver and creating the roses that way. Honestly, the roses weren’t that hard to make using the pizza saver. You just have to be patient and practice. My first couple of flowers looked a little rough, but by the fifth one, I had gotten the hang of it. Also, if you mess up, you can take the frosting off of the parchment paper and place it back in the bowl.

Overall, making the cake was fun and I was able to catch up on my shows. I’ll be making a similar cake soon, and I hope to post the recipe for the cake and the frosting.

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How to Roast Chicken

Recently, I learned how to roast a chicken. Roasting a chicken sounds pretty difficult but it’s really not! I was so surprised that I, Maia, could roast a chicken.

wholechicken2

How do I roast the chicken?

Before you roast a chicken you should consider two things : the size of your oven and how much time you have to commit to the process. I did a good bit of research on how to properly roast it without using a conventional oven. The oven I have is a large toaster oven. I knew it was big enough to make a pizza, but I was unsure about whether or not I could roast a whole chicken in it. My main concerns were  the chicken getting fully cooked, how long it would take to bake and the taste of the chicken. One of my biggest cooking fears is dry chicken; no one wants to eat dried chicken. What I found out was that the size of the chicken and the oven does matter. For  a small chicken, it takes an hour and a half to fully roast in a toaster oven, not including prep time.

 

preptable
My work area for cleaning the chicken.

I suggest that before you begin prepping your chicken you make a prep area in your kitchen. Above is a picture of my work area. The chicken will have some kind of fluids and you don’t want that all over your countertop. For easy clean up, I lined my work area with plastic bags and paper towels. Lastly, place your seasonings in bowls ahead of time so you can avoid cross-contamination.

Okay, but what about flavoring the chicken?

Flavoring the chicken is pretty important. You don’t want to roast it, taste it and discover that it has no flavor. Here are some simple ingredients you can use to flavor your chicken:

  • Olive oil or butter
  • Herbs ( oregano,parsley,thyme)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Onion

That’s it! It’s really not complicated. As you get better at roasting  chicken, you can test out different flavors. Recently, I made a herbed butter and stuffed it with chopped garlic and onions. The butter seasoned both the chicken and the vegetables.

 

Any other tips?

Have fun! I know that cleaning a chicken and potentially beheading it doesn’t sound fun, but the outcome is what makes it special. You’ll feel more accomplished as a cook when you pull a roasted chicken out of the oven. The smells fill your kitchen and knowing that you created a good meal will warm your heart. My deep feelings for cooking were intensified when I heard butter sizzle on top of the chicken.

If you would like an in-depth guide on how to roast a chicken, check out the guide on The Kitchn‘s website. They go through each step from start to finish.

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roastedchickencollage

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