Alternatives toDairy Products1

By: Shannon Leparski of The Glowing Fridge 

Plenty of people stay away from dairy products due to lactose intolerance, allergies and dietary choices but as concerns about dairy are on the rise, more people are considering dairy-free options. An obstacle they face is how they will learn to live without their favorite foods. Especially foods like cheese, pizza, yogurt, ice cream etc. There are plenty of delicious vegan alternatives to all dairy products that will leave you feeling amazing, satisfied and without the acid-forming properties from conventional milk products. Even if you aren’t vegan, making these simple swaps is a much healthier alternative to dairy. Small changes can truly make a big difference in your health!

Milk: switch to Almond Milk, Soy Milk, Coconut Milk, Rice Milk, Cashew Milk, Hemp Milk, or Hazelnut Milk. There are so many options when it comes to milk. Almond Milk and Coconut Milk are my absolute favorites and can replace the milk in any of your favorite recipes.

Butter: switch to Earth Balance stick butter or spread. Only on occasion do I use butter, (I save it for occasional baking purposes only) but knowing that there is a perfect vegan replacement that honestly works just the same is good to know!

Cream Cheese: switch to mashed avocado or a vegan cream cheese spread like Tofutti. Everyone loves the occasional bagel and you can still enjoy them by replacing cream cheese with mashed avocado which offers the same creaminess, or you can find Tofutti in most local grocery stores that works/tastes just the same as regular cream cheese.

Cheese: There are cheese replacements of all kinds that are vegan-friendly. Daiya and GoVeggie are the most popular store-bought brands as they make cheese slices and shredded cheese of all kinds (perfect for homemade pizza!). Since they are processed food items, I tend to stick with whole foods to make my own cheese. Blended up cashews with plain, unsweetened almond milk, nutritional yeast and a few spices makes for a perfect “cashew cheese” sauce for mac and cheese. I created a Creamy Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese recipe that you can find here!

Ice Cream: Almond Dream makes dairy-free ice cream or you can make your own at home (and save money) by blending up frozen bananas! I love to call this “nice cream”. It’s super easy plus it tastes the same, if not better, than regular ice cream. In a food processor or high-speed blender, blend up 3-4 frozen, sliced bananas with a splash of dairy-free milk and some cacao powder, peanut butter, chocolate chips, coconut sugar or cinnamon – whatever flavor you are currently craving. You can also add frozen berries or mango’s for a fruity ice cream flavor. I will never go back to store-bought ice cream again after tasting “nice cream”. TIP: Before freezing your bananas, make sure they are ripe with brown spots as they are much sweeter this way. I peel and chop my bananas, then place them in a ziplock bag in the freezer for at least 4 hours. When I want some “nice cream” I pull out the bag and allow it to sit on the counter for about 15 minutes as they will blend easier this way. Always add more dairy-free milk as needed!

chia pudding TGF

Yogurt: I used to love greek yogurt but since going vegan, I’m now addicted to coconut yogurt! It’s sweet, creamy and makes you forget about greek yogurt. You can also find almond yogurt and soy yogurt in any local grocery store. Another alternative option is chia seed pudding where you soak chia seeds with your favorite dairy-free milk + added berries, maple syrup, cacao powder, or vanilla to make the flavor of your choice. Check out my Chia Chocolate Pomegranate Pudding.

Sour Cream: Tofutti makes a vegan sour cream product or you can make your own at home using tofu, lemon juice and spices. There are plenty of recipes to create your own at home in a blender.

Mayo: There are lots of vegan options when it comes to mayonnaise. Earth Balance, Vegenaise or Just Mayo are a few popular brands but I love to use mashed avocado or hummus instead as a healthier whole food option.

Making a few swaps can be simple. Your body, your digestion and the environment will thank you for it. Try experimenting with a few dairy free alternatives and find your new favorites. You may find yourself feeling surprised at how tasty and similar the alternatives are.

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