As you may know, I have lots of food allergies, with my biggest one being dairy! That means no milk, butter, cream, etc etc. One distinction I want to make right off the bat though: lactose intolerance and dairy allergies are NOT the same! Lactose intolerance means you can’t properly digest lactose (milk sugar), whereas an allergy means you have an immune response to any part of milk (whether it has lactose or not) and can be a lethal response (anaphylaxis).
I’ve had this allergy my entire life, but some people might develop it later in life, or have decided to cut out dairy for nutritional reasons. Whatever the reason, there are LOTS of alternatives for milk in cooking, baking, and more. Reading labels and ingredients is key here, because there are some very surprising foods that contain milk (such as McDonald’s french fries). Lookout for things like butter, non-fat milk, whey, casein, or the dreaded “may contain milk” or “manufactured in a facility that also processes milk”. The easiest way to know if something is dairy-free? When it’s vegan!
If you’re just getting started on a dairy-free life, or want to find a new alternative, here are my top 5 dairy-free alternatives that are versatile in their uses and fairly easy to find!
- Silk milk
My family always uses Silk for things from cereal to baking. Silk comes in a variety of forms (soy, coconut, almond, cashew) and flavors (unsweetened, original, light, vanilla, etc). It substitutes perfectly in baking/cooking for regular milk and has the best taste from other brands.
- Earth Balance butter
I recently started using Earth Balance instead of other brands, and I’ve fallen in love. Not only does it come in either a tub or a stick, it also doesn’t have as much water in it, therefore it doesn’t sputter and spatter as much when in a hot pan. (I found other brands of milk-free butter have a high water ratio, therefore it spatters a lot as if you’re cooking bacon)
- Daiya cheese
Oh Daiya, there is nothing else like you! My whole life I wanted to eat cheese, but the alternatives always tasted like cheap lipstick. Daiya is the first and only cheese I’ve found that actually melts and stretches, and tastes good! When I make pizza with this, normal cheese-lovers always devour it.
- Tofutti sour cream and cream cheese
Tofutti is another favorite brand of mine. It started with eating their ice cream sandwiches for breakfast as a kid (while my parents were still asleep, lol). They have a great sour cream that makes fajitas and tacos 100% better, and also does well in baking. Their cream cheese + some jam makes the perfect topping for a bagel too!
- So Delicious ice cream
So Delicious is another versatile brand- they have milks, yogurts, ice creams, and more! But here, I’ll focus on their ice cream. They have lots of different formulations (soy, coconut, almond, etc etc) and so many flavors! Not to mention the flavors are so rich and creamy despite not having any cow’s milk. Favorite flavor: mocha fudge!
Of course there are TONS more brands and options out there, but these are my favorites! In the coming weeks, I’ll post some recipes (including my famous pizza) that use the alternatives I mentioned.
What’s your absolute favorite dairy-free food or brand? Tell me in the comments!
Peace and love!