Alternatives To Dairy
Godairyfree.org is an excellent resource for people on dairy free diets. I have listed basic suggestions and information below, but you can read more detailed information on their website.
Milk – There are many options on the market today for alternatives to dairy (e.g., milk substitutes). You can use any of the nut based milks (cashew, almond, hazelnut), soy milks, flax milk, coconut milk, or even rice or hemp milk. The newest items on the market include pea protein milks (Ripple is the best known company). My personal preference is to use cashew milk for cereals, puddings, or smoothies, but I use coconut milk for cooking or baking, and sometimes I use rice milk as an alternative. I tend to switch week to week depending on what is on sale and what I am going to be eating. However, if I need a thicker, creamier texture for a recipe, I will go with cashew or coconut milks. Pea protein milks are very rich and creamy too, but I am not sure how they taste in baked goods since I have not tried it yet. Rice milk tends to be more ‘watery.’ I always go for the plain, unsweetened versions to avoid excess added sugars. If you are looking for a milk to just sit down and drink by the glass…I would say soy milk or almond milk is the way to go. My favorites used to be chocolate soy or chocolate almond (those were the days when I used to have more sugar)!
Butters & Shortenings – You can use soy based butters, coconut oil butters, margarine, or shortenings made from these same categories. When I was able to eat soy, I used Earth Balance’s Buttery Sticks for cooking and baking. It was a fabulous substitute. Now I use Earth Balance’s Coconut Oil Butter and it is also very interchangeable, although there is a slight coconut taste when I use it. There is also a company called Melt, and they make buttery spreads too; they even have a honey flavored one and a chocolate one, and yes even their chocolate one is dairy free!
Cheese – I feel like there are more options and alternatives to dairy cheeses every few months when I go to the store. My favorites include gluten/dairy/soy free cashew cheeses by Treeline (spreadable, harder blocks), Miyoko’s Cashew Mozzarella Ball (it is so awesome), Daiya Cheeses which are gluten/dairy/soy free (slices, spreadable, shredded, blocks), and Follow Your Heart cheeses which come in gluten/dairy/soy free varieties as well as a soy based version (slices, blocks). Daiya changed their recipe a few years ago to include pea proteins, so people who are avoiding peas can’t have it anymore. Their shredded cheeses are wonderful on pizzas, pastas, and casseroles. My new favorite is the Miyoko’s mozzarella ball because it really reminds me of mozzarella cheese. I use it for pastas, pizzas, and omelettes as well as a spreadable cheese. I love the Treeline spreadable cheeses too (scallion is my ultimate fave) for crackers or dipping with veggies. I am not a fan of rice milk cheeses or some of the other almond milk versions now available, but you might like them. Since most non-dairy cheeses are pricey, I alternate based on what is on sale and try to stock up when the pricing is reasonable. Whole Foods Market carries all these brands, but other grocery stores may only have certain ones in stock.
Yogurt – There are tons of yogurt options on the market these days. If you can have soy, check out the many different soy based yogurts from So Delicious, Silk, or even your local store’s brand. If you’re like me and soy is not an option, then check out the almond milk yogurts or coconut milk yogurts. So Delicious makes both kinds in many flavors. If you are only looking for lactose free yogurts (not completely dairy free), try Organic Valley yogurts. They are organic, lactose free, and are quite tasty (I used to be able to eat them). Ripple makes pea protein milk yogurts now too. They are thick, creamy, and come in a variety of flavors. My son loves the original flavored yogurts!
Ice Cream – Where to begin…coconut milk ice cream, cashew milk ice cream, soy milk ice cream, hemp ice cream, almond milk, even rice milk ice cream…endless choices! Most grocery stores have selections of at least some of these products. My personal favorites are So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk ice cream and their Dark Chocolate Truffle Cashew ice cream. When that sugar craving just won’t go away and I have earned a special treat, they are my ‘go-to’ indulgences. As a perk, the coconut milk ice creams often have a lot of fiber in them (So Delicious does, not all products do).