At the risk of sounding dramatic, I’ve had stomach issues for as long as I can remember.
I remember having stomachaches all throughout middle and high school, but they were always written off as nerves or me trying to get out of something. Towards the end of high school, I started seeing a gastroenterologist who ran dozens of tests on me that ultimately didn’t tell us much besides I have GERD aka acid reflux and an egg sensitivity.
Around the same time I started dating my now-husband who was lactose intolerant. We would go out to eat, I would order a big bowl of mac n cheese and he would get a salad… It was actually pretty funny! He would always warn me about eating too much cheese (I ate a lot!) because that’s how he developed his intolerance. Since I didn’t do research into what lactose intolerance is or how it’s developed, I didn’t understand what he was going through – and what I would soon go through.
Fast forward about two years, we’re in our second year of college and my stomach pain is at an all time high. I continue to write it off as anxiety, until one night after dinner where I indulged in a burrito smothered in cheese and queso sauce.
I began to wonder if I could have developed a sensitivity to dairy. After all, I did develop an egg sensitivity years before. I was in denial about my lactose intolerance for 9 months. I saw a new GI doctor and he confirmed my suspicion and recommended I cut back or cut out dairy and see how I feel. Then, if I chose, to reintroduce dairy back into my diet.
Of course, when I cut dairy out of my diet I noticed a huge change and my body thanked me for it! I would still get upset stomachs but they were nothing compared to before. It wasn’t an easy transition for me but it’s one that improved my quality of life.
Back then I didn’t know of any cheese alternatives and I was hesitant to try anything that might have dairy in it. Since then, dozens of brands have released truly great tasting dairy alternatives but I have also opened my mind to exploring options in my own kitchen. I was never a cook but since entering my mid-twenties and getting married, putting health as a top priority means learning my way around the kitchen.
Check out this post for Jenna’s favorite anxiety-reducing foods.
About one year ago I started a food and lifestyle blog. The Urben Life focuses on sharing dairy-free and egg-free recipes, wedding planning tips, travel guides, and more! It started and remains a place for me to share my creations and experiences.
I get such joy when I connect with somebody going through what I went through and can help guide them and offer advice. Today I live a mostly stomachache-free life! My husband and I experiment with introducing a little cheese back into our diets from time to time, but nothing like before.
I love spending time in the kitchen recreating old favorite recipes with a dairy-free and egg-free spin on them – sometimes even veganized! Some of my go-to recipes are baked meatballs, bagels, chewy chocolate chip cookies, and pizza dough.
By far, one of the most requested recipes is my vegan queso. You can use it as a dip with chips, spread over your burrito, or poured over noodles for a quick and easy mac n cheese!
Written by Jenna Urben, founder and muse behind The Urben Life
Vegan QuesoServes: 4-6
Ingredients2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Optional: Red pepper flakes, hot sauce
Directions1. Boil the potatoes and carrots until soft. Once softened, transfer to food processor.
2. Add all the following ingredients into food processor and run on medium/high speed until smooth. Scrape down sides, as needed. Taste seasonings and adjust.
Serve and enjoy!
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This does reheat well! Melt in a pot on the stove or microwave in 30-second increments.
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