I often forget that many people are new to eating a dairy free diet. I’ve been living a dairy free existence (apart from the odd bit of chocolate or cheese every now and then!) for about 13 years. It is easy to forget how limiting it all felt in the early days. I was hugely uneducated about alternatives. It took some time to discover all the surprising products that dairy was lurking in, how best to avoid them and replace with superb alternatives.
So, if you are new to this dairy free way of living, let me help you out a little. Listed below are some alternative products to replace the ones you will probably miss the most.
I love how many alternatives there are to cows milk. At the beginning, I didn’t ever believe they could replace my love of milk as I could drink it by the bucket load. But I now can’t stand taste of cows milk, and the whole idea of drinking it sends me a little funny, which has to be good news for the cows. So, here are all the alternatives I have tried:
- Kara Coconut Milk – light, refreshing, not overly coconutty and full of amazing nutrients. Now available in all major supermarkets and health stores. My shop bought milk of choice.
- Soya milk -a somewhat controversial choice as Rainforest’s are being chopped down to grow the soya beans. Always look for Rainforest Alliance certification and avoid the cheap soya milks as these are often made with genetically modified (GM) soya beans. My favourite brands are Provamel and Sojade, both are sweetened with apple juice concentrate rather than sugar. Hooray!
- Almond milk or other nut milk – packed full of protein, creamy and delicious. Pretty expensive to buy, much cheaper to make yourself
- Oat milk – contains all the benefits of oats. Not gluten free unless made at home using gluten free oats
- Seed milks (hemp, sunflower, pumpkin) – not readily available in supermarkets/health food shops but super easy to make yourself.
All of these milks can be substituted in the same way in a recipe that calls for normal cows milk. Some lend themselves better to certain recipes, but on the whole, they all will work.
Experiment and find your favourite.
Butter, magarine and alternative spreads
One of the hardest parts of turning dairy free was watching my family slather butter on big wedges of bread. Truth be told they LOVE butter. They love butter so much, that you will often find a thicker wedge of butter that the bread its self. It was painful to watch, but as time has gone on, thankfully it has gotten easier. Part of this was to do with my discovery of nut and seed butters. Cashew, hazlenut, almond, sunflower, pumpkin… all super delicious.
There are many brands offering dairy free spreads on the market. My advice would be to choose wisely. Just because it doesn’t contain dairy, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be good for you. There are all sorts of hydrogenated fats and nasty fillers used to attempt to make products taste and look like butter.
I dont really use shop bought dairy free spreads, instead I choose to use coconut oil or cold pressed olive oil. Both taste lovely if you like coconut oil and olive oil, but maybe not that great paired with jam or marmite!
My favourite alternatives
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- “Pure” dairy free spread. Available in most supermarkets and the best in terms of quality and not containing nasties.
- “Biona” also have a good range of non-hydrogonated spreads. Health food shops and online is the best place to find these.
- Nut and seed butters – my favourite way to replace butter. As nuts are so rich and creamy these are a brilliant substitute. They can now even be found in some supermarkets, failing that health food shops and of course online.
Yogurts are such a handy lunch box filler, especially when you have little ones to feed. There have been some exciting new developments in the dairy free yogurt world. That is the introduction of coconut yogurts! Possibly the most rich and intensely satisfying yogurt I have ever eaten. Co-yo only sweeten their products with xylitol too so they are sugar free too.
My favourite alternatives to dairy yogurts are:
- Co-yo coconut yogurts. Quite difficult to source unless you live close to an amazing health food shop, they are available online too.
- Soya yogurts. Available in all supermarkets and health food shops. I prefer to buy the plain yogurts and flavour them myself as all of the flavoured ones I have found contain sugar. I blend or chop fruits or add sugarless jam to add a bit of excitement every now and then. My favourite brads are Sojade and Provamel, again because they are not sweetened with sugar.
There are some wonderful alternatives to cream, most are made from soya beans, however there are some that are made from rice milk instead. Supermarkets do stock at least one dairy free cream, health food shops often have a bigger range.
The wonderful thing about ice cream is it is so simple to make without dairy. There are some amazing brands out there making deeeelicious ice cream. My personal favourite is Booja Booja. Only available in health food shops but my oh my is it good. It is made from nuts. Tastes like the real deal too. If you cant make it to a health food store then there are plenty of other brands making ice cream, supermarkets have a good range, you just need to look past the sea of dairy filled ice creams.
I love noting more than making my own ice creams. You an make them using nuts, rice milks, coconut milk, soya milk and cream, anything really! I find a recipe and just substitute the dairy ingredients for non dairy ones and voila, tasty dairy free ice cream.
I hope this has helped ease you into the world of living dairy free. If there are any questions you know of any alternatives I haven’t mentioned then please leave a comment and I will do my best to help. Dairy free living need not be limiting, there are so many fabulous alternatives and it will not take long for you to become a whizz at making your own dairy free treats.
Do you know anyone new to dairy free living or anyone thinking of switching to dairy free? If so please share this with them, you might just make life a little bit easier for them.
Good luck on your dairy free journey, I’m with you all the way!
p.s. If you thought I was torturing you with pictures of dairy filled milkshakes, yogurts and ice creams (top of the page) then I promise you I was not. There we have proof that you can still eat all the things you will miss the most. We have an almond milkshake, home made yogurt and banana ice cream. All made without dairy. Happy you, happy cows!