"Hooray mozza-lella! Hooray mozza-lella!"
I never thought I'd hear one of my children gleefully cheering for any kind of cheese, but here is Pamela, my 2 year old, sitting at the dinner table and singing the praises of the gooey mozzarella on her warm slice of pizza. Her guileless enthusiasm overrides the fact that she can’t pronounce the word properly. My son’s mouth is too full of the melted delight to say anything.
We have not had dairy products in our house for many years, and there is no sign that my son Joseph, 7, will outgrow his allergy to dairy--or any of the other foods (peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, egg and soy) to which he is allergic. But we recently discovered the joy of Daiya dairy-free, vegan cheese alternative. This mozzarella-style Daiya shredded “cheese” tastes great and acts like real cheese in the way it melts when heated.
This means that make-your-own-pizza night has become a favorite dinner for both my kids. They love piling their choice of toppings, such as bacon, peppers, tomatoes and Daiya mozzarella, on their own Food for Life gluten-free, dairy-free brown rice English muffin. They happily chatter about their creations while doing a little pre-dinner taste testing of the toppings.
My apologies to Daiya, but I’ve had to make sure I constantly refer to their new cheese alternative as our "fake cheese" because I don't want Pamela to get confused about the allergy lessons I am teaching her. She is learning which foods make Joseph sick so that she can help to keep him safe. For example, when we see a big hunk of cheese in a book, she points to it and says, "Cheese makes Joseph sick." The Daiya mozzarella is such a hit that it’s worth the extra explaining on a toddler level.
Joseph is thrilled to bite into his pizza and experience the gooey feel of melted mozzarella in his mouth. Yes, it’s “fake”--but who cares? Certainly not Joseph, who’s helping himself to another slice of pizza while his sister cheers beside him.