Until a few years ago, I did not know that anyone in my family had lactose intolerance (LI). No one in my immediate family had it, or at least we thought that until my sister was diagnosed with it later in life. By then I knew about the extended family members with LI, but her diagnosis floored me. I always thought it was something that people were born with, and I had no idea that it can develop as we age. My family has LI in varying degrees. Some of us choose low-fat lactose-free milk or restrict dairy consumption to certain products with small amounts of lactose because they learned through trial and error what worked best for them, while others take lactase enzyme pills and consume milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products just fine, too.
And that’s really what it’s all about—finding out what works best for you. Whether you have a mild form of lactose maldigestion or digestive discomforts from LI, there are plenty of ways to manage it and still keep healthy dairy with calcium, vitamin D, and other important nutrients in your diet. The first and most important thing to do is talk with your doctor, because the symptoms may be caused by something else other than LI. Getting the right diagnosis is key, because gastro intestinal illnesses can often have similar symptoms.
The National Dairy Council (NDC) website has helpful information on managing LI, including notes from an expert panel convened by the National Institutes of Health to address the latest research and provide new insights into lactose intolerance. For managing lactose intolerance in children, read the NDC brochure, Lactose Intolerance & Your Child.
And if you like Mexican food, try my LI-friendly Mexican corn pudding with low-fat lactose-free milk and reduced-fat cheddar cheese, which naturally has a small amount of lactose. For more LI-friendly recipes, check out the links below.
Corn pudding and Southern spoon bread are cousins, you might say. Both are lighter than traditional corn bread, mostly due to eggs and added dairy products. My version has a Mexican twist with sautéed onions and peppers, sharp cheddar cheese, plus a mix of fresh whole kernel corn and corn cream that fills the pudding with fresh corn flavor. Serve alongside your favorite Mexican foods, and dollop on some salsa or ranchero sauce as you like. And for a bonus, it's also great for breakfast.
For gluten intolerance, check the corn masa to make sure that it's gluten free.
Mexican Corn Pudding with Fresh Corn (Tomalito)
- 8-inch skillet
- food processor
- medium bowl
- large mixing bowl
- 2-quart casserole dish, buttered
- 1 small yellow onion (diced)
- 1 bell pepper (seeded and diced)
- 1 Anaheim chile pepper (seeded and finely chopped)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 4 ears fresh corn (shucked)
- 4 large eggs
- 1½ cups low-fat or fat-free lactose-free milk
- 1 cup Masarepa (corn masa meal)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1¼ cups reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, divided
- Preheat the oven to 375° F/190° C.
- In the skillet, melt the butter and sauté the onions, bell peppers, and chile peppers until soft and glistening, about 5 minutes or so.
- Scrape the kernels off the corn using a sharp knife or corn peeler/stripper, and rub the cobs with the backside of the knife or peeler to get the milky bits. Run half of the corn kernels through the food processor until smooth. In the mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the low-fat lactose-free milk. Stir in the whole and processed corn kernels along with the sautéed onions and peppers.
- In the medium bowl, whisk together the Masarepa, baking powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Stir into the liquid ingredients until well combined, then fold in 1 cup of the sharp cheddar cheese. Pour into the prepared casserole dish, spreading evenly, and then sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese on top.
- Bake in the preheated oven until the top is golden and the pudding is puffed, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for five minutes, and then serve.
More Recipes for Lactose Intolerence
[Disclosure: I wrote this recipe as an ambassador for the National Dairy Council Beyond Lactose Intolerance awareness campaign.]