Dairy Front (1)You’ve probably noticed lots of dairy-free options popping up in grocery stores lately—from almond milk to coconut yogurt, alternative dairy products are everywhere, and more and more keep appearing. Whether you’re lactose-intolerant or just like to try new things, it’s great to have options! Let’s explore a few reasons why you might want to try dairy-free products and how you can make substitutions if you need to avoid dairy.  Of course, it is always best to make your own of these alternatives and the boxed and alternate options at the stores may have additives, preservatives and fillers you don’t need!

Dairy Differences

  • Lactose-intolerant folks can’t digest lactose, the sugar found in milk and anything containing milk. Fortunately, heavy cream contains virtually no lactose; nor does cultured butter. Most cultured dairy products have very little lactose because the friendly bacteria gobble up the lactose and turn it into lactic acid. So yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream, and aged hard cheeses like Parmesan are sometimes okay for lactose-intolerant diners. Just be sure to look for whole-milk plain yogurt, preferably Greek yogurt—that has had more of the lactose-containing whey drained out of it. On the other hand, milk and fresh cheeses like mozzarella are high in lactose.
  • Casein-allergic folks react to the protein found in milk (called casein). These folks need to avoid all dairy products. Some people, however, only react to the casein in cow milk, not goat or sheep milk, in which case dairy products made with goat or sheep milk might be acceptable.
  • Vegans and some vegetarians avoid all animal products, in which case they will avoid all forms of dairy products.
  • Curious eaters might want to try dairy-free products to add more variety to their meals and snacks.

Dairy Substitutions

  • Whole coconut milk is a luscious substitute for milk. When you buy a can of whole coconut milk, if you want coconut cream, simply refrigerate the unopened can for an hour. The cream will float to the top, where you can scoop it off and use it in place of dairy cream. (You can even whip it!) Or don’t chill the can, shake it well, and use it as milk. You can thin it with water if you like. Include coconut milk in smoothies, enjoy it with homemade cereal, pour it into your coffee, you name it. Unlike dairy cream, coconut cream won’t separate when heated, so it’s great to use in creamy soups.
  • Nut and grain milks can be excellent substitutes for dairy milk. Just double-check and make sure that you’re not getting a ton of added sugar with your milk.  Boxed milks also have unnecessary additives and synthetic vitamin D.
  • Coconut oil can stand in for butter in baked goods. It will spread more than butter will, though, so your cookies will be thinner and more brittle. Also, coconut oil won’t get fluffy when beaten the way butter will.
  • Coconut yogurt is great to use in place of dairy yogurt or sour cream.
  • Coconut ice cream is deliciously dairy-free. Make your own ice creams by swapping out dairy cream for coconut cream and dairy milk for coconut milk.
  • Unrefined oils are great stand-ins for a pat of butter. Try drizzling unrefined walnut oil on your baked sweet potatoes or unrefined hazelnut oil on your pancakes.
  • Nutritional yeast has a nutty, cheesy flavor. Sprinkle it onto everything from kale chips to popcorn to pasta to create an ultra-savory treat.

CLICK HERE to get FREE resources as well as my book The Guide to a Dairy -Free Diet to help guide you further.


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