Gas, bloating and loose stools are some of the reasons why people avoid dairy, either for short or longer periods of time. Others choose to abstain from dairy for environmental or even ethical reasons. Whatever the motivation, the good news is, there are plenty of non-dairy substitutes available, both store-bought and homemade. It’s just a matter of trial and error to see what tickles your taste buds!
Healthy ice-cream alternatives – Why save the best ‘til last?!!!
There is an abundant choice of dairy-free ice creams available in supermarkets. Typically, they are manufactured from nut milks including almond, cashew and coconut. Personally, the best ice cream alternative is blended fruit (bananas are perfect) with some nut milk and a dash of vanilla to taste…devine!
Healthy replacements for cow’s milk:
- Almond milk – Almond milk has recently grown in popularity as it has a great, yet not overpowering taste. Nowadays it’s offered in most cafes and barista shops. You can even make your own – just soak some almonds in water overnight, strain them and blend them in a food processor while adding a dash of fresh water at a time until you get the consistency you desire.
- Coconut milk – Coconut milk is naturally fatty which is perfect for people who like a thicker, creamier milk alternative. Its creamy texture makes a great base for a hot chocolate – just add the cocoa powder! Beware…this one’s addictive!!
- Oat milk – Oat milk contains good levels of calcium, Vitamin D and soluble fibre making it a viable option for those wanting or needing to go dairy free. It tends to have a thicker consistency making it ideal for using in baking. It’s important to note that although oats are naturally gluten free, they are commonly tainted with gluten so if you are celiac you may wish to avoid this one.
- Rice milk – Rice milk tends to be sweeter and thinner than other dairy alternatives making it a great choice to use in smoothies.
- Hemp milk, flax milk and cashew milk are all viable alternatives.
You will notice that soy milk was not mentioned in this list. This is because soy contains phytates that can block the absorption of other nutrients. Soy also contains oestrogen-like compounds that can interfere with hormones and the thyroid. With so many other options, you can afford to give this one a miss.
Healthy replacements for butter:
Butter is a great product that contains high levels of butyrate, a fatty acid that helps feed your good bacteria in your gut. But if you can’t tolerate butter or want to avoid it then here are a few options for you to consider:
- Avocados are a great alternative. It has the consistency of butter and doesn’t have a strong flavour so you can use it in baking.
- Bananas – unlike avocados, bananas do have a strong flavour but if you were going to bake something sweeter (like banana bread or muffins) then a banana can be the perfect alternative.
- Coconut oil – use it as a 1:1 replacement for butter in most recipes.
- Olive oil – use when gentle sauteing or caramelising. It also produces wonderfully moist cakes and muffins when used in baking.
- There are a plethora of nut spread options for you to consider that are widely available in supermarkets and health food stores – almond, brazil, cashew, pistachio, walnut and my personal favourite, macadamia.
Healthy cheese alternatives:
If you are a cheese lover, do not despair, there are a great variety of options for you to choose from. Soft cheeses made from coconut or almonds are popular. You could even try your hand at making your own almond soft cheese – soak almonds overnight, strain, then blend with some lemon juice and a splash of almond milk – add chives to taste.
If you are a hard cheese connoisseur, you are covered here too.
- You can get coconut gouda and coconut mozzarella blocks. They have the perfect melting point so you can grate these and put over pizza.
- Cashew parmesan made from cashews and yeast flakes is a winner to sprinkle over pasta or casserole dishes.
- And if you require a slice of cheese for your sandwich – almond and coconut options are available.
Healthy yogurt alternatives:
Similar to milk alternatives, yogurt follows suit. Yogurt can be made from fermented coconut milk or nuts (almond, cashew & pistachio are all popular).
If you are looking for a non-dairy substitute for greek yoghurt in baking, try coconut milk, coconut cream, apple or banana puree, or pistachio yogurt.
As you can see, the choices are vast. See what alternatives excites and tantalises you!
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