No Dairy Life: Butternut Squash Soup with Maple Sage Walnuts

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Vegan Butternut Squash Soup topped with Maple Sage Walnuts and with a side of Rosemary Focaccia

Since having a baby, I’ve experienced so many amazing, difficult, and some times disgusting, new things.

From the very beginning, my son Charlie was what I will call a “leaky baby.” He spent hours crying, spitting up, and pooping so forcefully it would escape even the most seemingly secure diapers.

My husband and I were exhausted and

Squalling When Awake
Squalling When Awake

heartsick. We questioned our ability to be good parents, since we couldn’t seem to make the baby happy. He screamed in pain before every bowel movement and vomited after every feeding. Breastfeeding was indeed a bonding experience–albeit a difficult and painful one. Charlie and I both would be in tears, and I could only hope he was getting the nutrients he needed for his growing body.

The pediatrician assured me that a crying baby was perfectly normal and that his bowel movements were nothing to worry about. He had no fever, no infection, and the rash covering his small body must be a heat rash. But I couldn’t believe that the screaming was normal.

After hours of scouring the internet for answers, I came across an article about milk protein allergy. Charlie had all of the symptoms: vomiting, explosive and watery stools, a rash, and constant crying.

I remembered my husband’s grandmother telling me about how her son, my husband’s dad, was a colicky baby who stopped crying the minute she stopped breast feeding and switched to soy based formula. He was allergic to milk, she said.

This milk protein allergy must be the root cause of Charlie’s issues, I thought.

When I brought my suspicions to the pediatrician, he shrugged and said, Well if you want to try cutting out diary, it couldn’t hurt. So I did.

I threw out all of my milk, butter, yogurt, and cheese. I read all of the labels on my breads and packages looking for any milk or whey. I stopped eating beef. When the pantry was nearly empty, I started stocking up on unprocessed whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables, determined to change my diet and praying, for all our sake, that it would make a difference.

I began experimenting with vegan recipes, trying to be creative with new spices and flavors.

After about two weeks, I started to see a difference in Charlie. His rash went away, passing stool was no longer painful, and he wasn’t screaming in pain every waking moment. Breastfeeding became a more pleasant experience and feedings lasted longer. He started to put on more weight, and I started to lose it.

By not eating dairy, I was also feeling better. I started to enjoy subtle flavors. I liked not feeling so fatigued and lethargic after meals. And incorporating more fiber made me feel like a new woman. 20141201_094245

Every day is a new challenge with Charlie, but we are all feeling much more optimistic. He smiles and plays, and no longer screams in pain with every bowel movement.

Giving up dairy initially seemed like a sacrifice, but now I don’t miss it, especially when I see how happy and healthy my baby boy is.

Recipe for Vegan Butternut Squash Soup:

1 medium butternut squash, halved and roasted

1 tbsp chopped sage

2 tsp olive oil

2 granny smith apples

2 large potatoes

1 yellow onion

5 cups vegetable broth

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more if you like it a little spicy)

salt and pepper to taste

Halve the butternut squash and coat in sage and olive oil. Roast in the oven at 375 degrees F for approximately 45 min or until soft and lightly browned.

Cube the potatoes, apples, onion, and roasted squash and add to large pot. Pour in 5 cups of vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Add red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and any addition sage. Turn to med/low and simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Blend until pureed using a blender or immersion blender.

Serves 4 – 6

Maple Sage Walnuts

1 cup walnut halves and pieces

1/4 cup real maple syrup

1 tsp chopped sage

In a large skillet, saute walnuts, maple syrup, and sage on med/low until the syrup caramelizes. Remove from heat and spread on wax or parchment paper until cool.

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