Saturday, July 3, 2010

Learning Their Way Around the Labels

this post is scheduled for july 5  on the Latter-day Homeschool blog but with less pictureschocolate chips

No cow’s milk in this brand of semi-sweet chips.
I’ve learned that it will cost me about $900 to acquire
my  year’s supply of these.

In our house, as my children are learning to cook, we have to concern ourselves with labels on packaged foods.  We have milk allergies in our household and have learned to work around it.  They are learning to read the labels with the listing of ingredients and understand them.   We have also learned that the majority of pre-packaged food has what we are allergic to: milk, whey, lactose, casein and certain ingredients we prefer to avoid.   And to do that, we mostly cook from scratch.

mad science

Now, mind you, my children are high school age and older and some are disabled.  It is definitely time to teach them about cooking, food labels, ingredients,  proper nutrition (the interest is now there, also) and it’s a good idea to teach these things whether our children  have allergy issues or not.  I wrote a post for the blog a few months back, Teaching the Older Ones to Cook, (tips, links, USDA Food Pyramid, what works for us)  and was asked to expand on this from the label reading perspective.  I didn’t think about that in the original post, because, as Dana mentions to me often enough, some things are just second nature to me—such as reading the label and teaching about it.

When we go shopping, we look at the label of pre-packaged foods before we toss it in the cart. Even if something is a “safe” food for us, we have learned that manufactures will change their ingredients from time to time and so the label must be checked anyway (my tell-tale sign will be seeing red, cracked hands, runny noses and earaches among my children)One brand of bread may have some form of milk products in all of it’s many types except for one.

And just because the package says,”Dairy-free” does not mean it is.  I have found many of these products contain Casein, which is the protein in milk and , actually, the culprit for my family.  My children look for these ingredients.

cool whip

Now, I’m not going to take it upon myself to tell you how to eat or shop or what is acceptable. That is, of course, your decision .  I teach them this:

  • The Word of Wisdom (D&C 89)
  • Food Pyramid (see the above link for the link to USDA food pyramid activities)
  • Look at the Allergy Warning at the end of the ingredient listing. Does it have something we are allergic to?
  • Read the rest of the ingredient label anyway, to be sure.
  • What is the first ingredient, which is also the main ingredient? Sugar or a whole grain?  White or Wheat?
  • Where is the sugar listed?
  • How many calories from fat?
  • What type of fat or oil is acceptable to us?
  • Does it contain certain ingredients we, in our family, want to avoid? (some additives and preservatives give me a headache or leave me feeling weird)
  • Does this box mix look so good, we don’t care how much fat or sugar it has in it? brownies
  • Would we be better off to just make it ourselves? (depends on how yummy it is and enticing the picture) 
  • I’ve read more than once that if you want to buy Organic produce, do so for what you eat most frequently.
  • Quality of the product is important to me and I teach it. I don’t buy it just because it is cheap.  My father taught me that you get what you pay for. So, yes, I go for the Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (no cow’s milk~Hershey and Nestle have dairy) over some Yak-ola sub-store brand that tastes, to me, like plastic pen caps dipped in brown crayon juice.  (Forgive me if I have offended anyone.  Personal opinion and choice. And yes, I will eat your Chocolate Chip cookies made with the 99c bag of chocolate chips)

If I bring a box mix home, Katie reaches for the box and reads the label. Success!!  Buddy wants to learn new things now and helps more in the kitchen. More Success!  Patrick can read the recipe and make it without burning the house down.  

Here are a few recipe links to how we get around our dairy allergies (from my Flamboyant Gourmets blog):

Buddy, my 20-year-old Aspie,  wanted to learn to help us (!!!) make Spanakopita and asked me to make a cheese-free version (!!).  This recipe has step-by-step photos, which makes cooking easier for my ganglings. Never too many visuals.

My gang loves Macaroni and cheese so we make……Macaroni and Un-cheese

You will find my recipe for home made Taco Meat (no mixes) in with this recipe for Shepherd’s Pie. You will find I add cheese to this for those of us who are not so milk allergic.  I leave the cheese out for the others.



I have not learned to make bread that my ganglings will eat in a sandwich and am requesting YOUR recipe for a great whole wheat bread that you have mastered and are proud of.  Will you share? 

How do you teach cooking to your children? Any special tips?

Teresa is a widow, with 4 children, one high school age homeschooler, and 2 adult homeschoolers on the Autisrubber chickenm Spectrum.  They embrace their Inner Rubber Chickens on a regular basis with a good, tight squeeze, leaving a puff of feathers in their wake.  You can find their family squeezings, ponderings and a few homeschool posts at Wockenflock Daze.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing. We have milk allergies here, too.