The one about the first dairy free recipe we made

When our son, James was three months old we started seeing blood in his diaper and after a referral to a paediatrician and lots of trial and error, we learned he had a dairy AND soy allergy. At this time, we were also advised to remove formula from James' diet and solely breastfeed, to which I had to remove dairy and soy from my diet. 

I remember leaving our first appointment trying to think about the things I would have to remove from my diet, things I could substitute - "Oh I can buy lactose free yogurt instead" - little did I know this day would mark the beginning of a long journey full of learning. FUN FACT - a lactose intolerance and a dairy allergy are two different things, so no I couldn't substitute yogurt with lactose free yogurt as I initially thought. 

When we first found out we needed to go dairy free we were so overwhelmed with what we could and couldn’t eat. It was so much more than replacing a handful of items and cutting out a few things, but a lot of label reading, a lot of research and a lot of creativity. 

Thankfully I did already enjoy cooking or I was going to need to learn fast because one of the greatest challenges in that season of life was the vast amount of cooking. There were little to no options for fast food, no throwing a boxed dinner in the oven, it was cooking for every meal every day. I didn't realize the vast number of food product dairy and soy was in. 

Let me tell you, the very first time my husband and I went out for dinner after almost 10 months - it was heavenly. The food was amazing, but it was also the bliss of not having to cook a meal that made it even more special. 

Although this journey came with many challenges, I am thankful for all the learning that came with it. It was also the inspiration for our food journal - A place to help families through their little one's food journey. One of the sections in the food journal is for recipes so today I thought I would share my butter chicken recipe that is dairy, soy and shellfish free (and can be made vegan if you remove the chicken). 

This butter chicken recipe was the first dairy free recipe one of our friends introduced us to, and bonus it’s soy free too! With some modifications along the way (because I can never cook the same thing the exact same way twice), we have a recipe that’s a staple in our house for us and James to this day. 

You will need
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tbsp red curry paste
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 1/4 cup almond butter
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- Splash of lemon juice
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 1/2 cups basmati rice

How to make
1. Cook chicken breasts in oven. Once up to temp, remove and shred.
2. Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil in Dutch oven on stove top. Stir in spices and red curry paste. Deglaze with vegetable stock.
3. Open can of chickpeas and rinse chickpeas with water in a strainer. Add chickpeas and tomato sauce to Dutch oven and simmer for 20-25 mins.
4. Stir in almond butter, lemon juice, sugar, coconut milk and cilantro. Add shredded chicken.
5. Serve with basmati rice-cook as directed on the package.

🌶 If you like spicy, add 1/4 tsp of cayenne.
🤤 Can also be served with naan bread. Note naan contains dairy, soy and I believe egg as well, so not allergy friendly for some.


In one of my ‘ah-ha’ moments, I emptied the jar of blooms on a blank sheet of paper and arranged each piece carefully across the page

Laura Goulding