Going dairy free is often a journey towards a lifestyle change: we make the decision to take that journey, based on our own reasons, whether that be need or choice. One thing for sure, we all want it to be easy!
Fortunately for you, I have been following a dairy free lifestyle for over 10 years now. From experience, I know that the initial embarkment on that journey can seem quite daunting. However, once you’ve mastered a few simple changes and got into the swing of trying new things, you’ll soon have a list of favourites to support your dairy free lifestyle!
Products That Contain Dairy
Lactose intolerance refers to an intolerance to anything that comes from a cow. If you want to go fully dairy free then this will require excluding all products that come from the milk of cows, goats, sheep, buffalo and so on. You can decide how far you want to take the no-dairy lifestyle.
With this lifestyle you will need to get into the habit of ‘making your own’; from pastry to cakes, once you start looking you’ll be surprised at all the places you’ll find dairy in normal processed foods! If making your own is not for you then, learn about all the different names that dairy ingredients can go by so that you become a record speed reader of labels. If it has a label, check it! Luckily, since 2014 any products that contain milk have to label it in bold, therefore it makes this job much easier when checking the ingredients list.
Butter; cream; cheese; yoghurt; soured cream; ice cream; milk; buttermilk; whey; casein; cream cheese; condensed milk; curds; custard; ghee; casinates; hydrolates; paneer; kefir etc. watch for out for it for hiding in condiments, salad dressings, ready meals, biscuits, cakes, cereals, ready-made porridge, smoothies, shakes, protein shakes, snack bars, chocolate!
Something to consider when eating out: Indian dishes are best to be avoided as the majority of menu items will be cooked in ghee (clarified butter) or butter and some will have been marinated in milk or yoghurt. Cook from scratch at home and use coconut oil as the fat and coconut milk for the marinating cream.
You may find yourself quite happy making these little changes, appreciating new ingredients and finding that your diet is healthier – without the need for the treats and things you once relied on. Swapping in herbal teas can help curb sweet cravings such as, peppermint & liquorice; chamomile & marshmallow and lemon & ginger.
Next Up : The Alternatives
In the kitchen, it is possible to make and use alternatives quite easily and quickly. Butter is a good place to start; the dairy free spreads such as sunflower or olive oil based, are the best to choose and easily available in the supermarket. Coconut oil is another good swap for cooking. In baking, coconut oil can be swapped like for like, or if required, use a little less.
Cream: you can buy coconut full fat cream in a tin and use this for many things including, desserts or even adding in to your favourite curry recipe. Another great alternative in the free-from aisle is oat cream. Better yet, make your own cashew nut cream or creamy tahini dressing. Tahini is another super ingredient, made from sesame seeds and rich in calcium too, you’ll be adding a good spoonful here, there and everywhere!
Milk alternatives: there are many options to choose off the supermarket shelf; the best to buy are oat milk which is fortified with vitamins & minerals, or nut milks (almond, cashew, hazelnut – unsweetened, of course!) If you’re feeling adventurous, you could make your own nut mylk! As shop-bought nut milks only usually have a small percentage of nuts to water, you can boost your nutrient intake by adding more nuts or even, seeds! This is very easy to do, especially if you have a high speed blender.
Spreads: try using avocados spread on toast and hummus too – delicious, nutritious and easy! Nut butters can be used just as everyday peanut butter is yet, they have a more diverse range of flavours; pumpkin seed, hazelnut, cashew nut, almond, coconut etc. If you’re keen to improvise, create a smooth nut butter; a high speed blender can do the job well and slightly toasting the nuts helps to release their natural oil. Added ingredients like raw cacao powder and a little sweetener can create a delicious hazelnut spread, without the dairy!
Hummus: straight up plain hummus (houmous) is on the whole, dairy free. With flavoured varieties the front label may not necessarily read ‘dairy’, therefore caution is needed. Examples may be, hummus with pesto will likely contain cheese and a beetroot dip may contain some feta within its recipe. Be sure to check that back label out for any hidden dairy!
Bottled sauces, pesto and flavourings: check those labels, often you will find some dried milk or dairy products hiding in them! Get a dairy free pesto recipe here and read this article for ways to create many more dairy free sauces to enjoy!
If you can open your mind to new options and grow used to a few simple changes, a dairy free lifestyle really doesn’t have to be a chore! Like me, you’ll discover new recipes and new ways of eating that bring super tasty drinks, meals and snacks to your life! Find many easy and straightforward recipes on this website – all dairy free!