“Wait, does that mean you can’t eat cheese?!” I hear this quote probably about 75% of the time I talk to someone about my food sensitivities. No, you’re right, I can’t eat cheese…all the time. 😉 Dairy is definitely one of my food sensitivities, but is still something that I can have every once in a while without putting too much of a strain on my body. Technically, according to my food sensitivity test, I should be able to eat cheese and have some yogurts. However, I choose to live dairy free (or mostly dairy-free) because my body feels better when it doesn’t need to digest any dairy products. This blog post will be about which dairy free alternatives I use to supplement for the real thing!
Unlike eggs, I have a lot of different options when it comes to dairy free products (thank you to those who are lactose-intolerant and have made a great impact on the food industry!). What it really comes down to is what isn’t too processed, what isn’t made with yeast (more about that one in a minute), and what I think tastes good.
From a strictly milk perspective, I like to use most milk substitutes, except for rice milk. I don’t know what it is about the taste of rice milk, but I am not a huge fan. When I choose a dairy free milk, I also choose from the refrigerated section because it tastes better and is closer to milk than something that you find that’s been sitting on a warm shelf. Ever tried regular milk from a shelf? Yep, it exists, and it’s not my favorite, so my thought process is that if I wouldn’t buy regular milk from the shelf, why would I buy almond or rice milk that’s from a shelf? We buy an almond-coconut milk blend every week made by Almond Breeze and it is the bomb!
My fiance even prefers this blend over regular milk in his coffee or just to drink, and you know a dairy free milk is a winner when you want to drink it by itself! I will use this milk in just about anything: coffee, protein shakes, anything baked, etc. It also makes a delicious chocolate milk! (We don’t use Ovaltine because, you guessed it, there’s dairy in the mix! But we do make our own mix with a little bit of Swerve and some cocoa powder.)
Moving on to butter and cheese, I am also very fortunate to have a lot of great options. Earth Balance makes a delicious dairy free butter that I actually prefer over the real thing. It’s light and still gives you the same fattiness that regular butter gives to a dish, but without the stomachache. I’ve also tried the vegan option of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter,” but I find it to be super heavy and thick and I’m not a fan. So Earth Balance works for me! (Note: Earth Balance makes a soy-free version of the non dairy butter, for anyone reading who has a soy allergy.)
Cheese is a little trickier than milk and butter. This is because dairy free cheese is made with yeast (thought I’d forgotten about that point, didn’t ya?!). So if a recipe calls for cheese, I will actually skip it entirely. In it’s place, I have used nutritional yeast in the past, which is basically a vegan’s saving grace for cheese in cooked dishes, but I have found that nutritional yeast irritates my stomach in the same way that baker’s yeast does, and so I will usually avoid it as well. But, if you are making a dairy free dish and want the essence of cheese in your dish, I would definitely suggest adding it in, especially for any pasta dish.
I also use other random substitutes for dairy here or there when I need to. I am a fan of dairy free yogurt, but find that most of them are made with cane sugar to make them sweet, and so I don’t eat them anymore. My favorite is a cashew milk yogurt that Whole Foods sells because it is not made with cane sugar, but it’s so expensive that it’s not worth the cost for me not to eat it every day. Occasionally, a recipe will call for cream cheese or sour cream, both which have dairy free options. I prefer to use the dairy free cream cheese and sour cream made by GoVeggie, but Tofutti also makes great dairy free products as well.
And there you have it! Living dairy free is much easier to me than living egg free, as there are more options for me to choose from. Look out for next Sunday’s post to learn more about allergy friendly substitutes.
Here’s to living our best and most delicious lives. ❤