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Allergy Free Cooking: Dairy Free

Of the major food allergies, I find that dairy allergies are the easiest because there are so many alternatives already in place.  However, it’s difficult because dairy is thrown into everything (including McDonald’s french fries).

When we say dairy allergy, it applies most to cow’s milk.  Many people with a dairy allergy can easily tolerate the milk of other mammals such as goat, sheep, and buffalo.  If you have been diagnosed with a dairy allergy, you might like trying a different type of milk just to see.

If you want to avoid all animal milk then there are a number of plant-based “milks” – rice, coconut, almond, soy, hemp, oat, and more.  Most of these have translated into other dairy products.

So here’s some alternatives that we have used:

Butter – Nucoa margarine.  It is soy based and a margarine but it doesn’t taste funky and it’s dairy free.  It does it all – baking, spreading, popcorn, etc.  It’s not perfect and if you don’t use the melted margarine then it gets gross but as a substitute it’s not bad.  Another substitute we’ve recently discovered is coconut oil.  It can be melted again and again without getting funky so we’ve discovered it’s great for foods like popcorn.  A higher quality coconut will have a sweet coconutty flavor while a lower quality will have no flavor.

Yogurt – you can find soy, goat, sheep and coconut variations of yogurt.  My family really liked the soy variety but hated the coconut.  That doesn’t mean you won’t like it but it was the one coconut product they didn’t like.

Cheese – we’ve used mashed tofu in place of ricotta or cottage cheese in recipes with no problem.  You can purchase goat and sheep cheese in most stores.  Vegan cheeses are often made with soy, rice or nut milks.  There are recipes online that teach you how to turn nuts into cheese like substances.  Brewer’s Yeast is often used as a cheese flavoring agent (such as on top of spaghetti).  Once again, my family didn’t like the yeast and I found that just omitting the cheese didn’t make that much of a difference.  You may find, like I did, that Americans eat really bland cheese so when you skip it, it’s not all that much of a difference to the food.  I had started to omit cheese as part of a plan to cut calories.  Pretty soon we realized that the food practically tasted the same.

Sour Cream/Cream Cheese – there are non-dairy variations available in most groceries.

Cream Soups – this was a tough one to give up but once we did, we realized that we liked the homemade version better.  I make a cream sauce – mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1 cup cold non-dairy milk and to 2 tablespoons oil in a saucepan.  Heat over medium heat until thick.  I often would flavor it with soy sauce to give it a meaty taste and onion powder.  Add mushrooms to make cream of mushroom soup.  For chicken – use bits of chicken to flavor and perhaps a touch of chicken bouillon.

I’m sure I have forgotten something so please ask questions.