Sunday, January 4, 2009

Tips for Going Dairy-Free

I think it was harder to adjust to going dairy-free than it was to go gluten-free. I couldn't hide the flavor of unusual flours with cheese anymore! We tried soy cheese but it was made with casein and so it still was no good (I didn't know my son also had soy intolerance at the time). You have to be careful looking for dairy replacements because some things still use milk. A friend of mine whose child has a milk allergy says that even "milk-free" acidophilus still has traces of milk because it has to be cultured with milk. I wanted so bad to give it to Barrett to help with digestion but he could not tolerate the milk-free tablets, like she said (although they may possibly contain soy so it's possible that it is the soy and not milk that bothered him).

There are a few kinds of dairy-free margarine. Nucoa, Blue Bonnet Light, and Earth Balance are all dairy-free. If you are intolerant to casein other kinds might be okay too because they contain milk but it is whey and not casein. ((Milk is usually divided into two parts--curds (casein) and whey (not a protein). Cottage cheese it the curds and so is basically pure casein. Don't ever feed it to your kid)! I found it safest to just avoid milk altogether though to avoid cross-contamination. I would also avoid using butter-flavored Crisco because while they claim it contains no milk it is derived originally from milk.

A good alternative to milk, if your child can tolerate soy, is Silk Very Vanilla which is specially fortified for kids. I found it to have the most vitamins as well as calories and my son loved it (until we found soy was bad for him). Even the Silk Plain tasted good to me. There are many brands of soy milk and you can try as many as you like, but I never found one that was fortified as well as the Silk Very Vanilla. If soy is also a problem or if you want fewer calories I would recommend almond milk or rice milk. Hemp milk is supposed to be the most nutritious, but let's be honest--it's nasty! And do not use oat milk because it contains gluten. Also, if you buy rice milk be careful if you buy Rice Dream because some of it is made from barley which contains gluten. For a list of gluten-free rice dream products click here.

You can make a very good pumpkin pie with soy milk (don't use vanilla flavored milk though). You can substitute soy milk for evaporated milk and it will still taste good (use the recipe on the package of Libby's Pumpkin), it just won't set up quite as well. You can, however, make your own evaporated milk by boiling 2 1/2 cups of soy milk down to 1 cup and using that. I could not taste the difference between my dairy and my soy pies. You can use a gluten-free crust (I'll post a recipe later), or I like to just pour the mix into cupcake wrappers and have crust-free pies. That's what I did for Barrett's second birthday. It makes for nice easy servings and easy storage.

You can get dairy-free chocolate chips as well. Tropical Source is the only brand I have been able to find. Be careful if you are sensitive to soy. They have soy lecithin in them. It shouldn't bother most people but if you are extra sensitive to soy it may bother you.

You can also buy soy ice cream and yogurt but I have never tried them so I don't know if they are any good. I have recipes though and I will post those later as well.


  1. I haven't tried this yet, but a newsletter that I like just had what sounds like a good tip for non-dairy yogurt (but made with real food - in the is case coconut milk). I'm going to try it out, as I have made yogurt many times (super easy). And I know that probiotics are great for overall health as well a gut health. And it isn't necessary to buy probiotic commercial products; they're very easy to make at home, like they were in the "olden days". But back then it was just a low technology way to preserve read food.

    I have no affiliation with the recommended starter maker, btw.


    This is from the Daily Digest of Local Forage (
    GOOD QUESTIONS: Non-dairy yogurt culture starter?

    Question: Carla, Where can I get a good yogurt starter? I want to make your coconut milk yogurt but I don't want to use a dairy starter.

    Answer: I recommend GI ProStart Yogurt Culture Starter from GI ProHealth which has a combination of three well-recognized and certified probiotic strains with documented clinical effectiveness. GI ProStart yogurt starter produces a nice, creamy, dairy-free yogurt when used with alternative milks like coconut milk and can also be used with cow or goat milk.

    GI ProStart has to stay refrigerated to keep the bacteria alive and you only use an 1/8 teaspoon to make two quarts of yogurt.

    To get you psyched to make the coconut milk yogurt or any other probiotic-containing food (like sauerkraut), here are some benefits for you to consider.

    Good bacteria make vitamins our bodies need and utilize such as B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, A and K.
    Good bacteria produce essential fatty acids
    Good bacteria digest lactose
    Good bacteria regulates peristalsis and bowel movements
    Good bacteria digests protein into amino acids
    Good bacteria produce antibiotics and antifungals which prevent colonization and growth of bad bacteria and yeast/fungus
    Good bacteria support the immune system and increase the number of immune cells.
    Good bacteria balance intestinal pH.
    Good bacteria break down bacterial toxins
    Good bacteria have anti-tumor and anti-cancer effects.
    Good bacteria protects us against environmental toxins like mercury, pesticides, pollution and radiation
    Good bacteria break down and rebuild hormones
    Good bacteria help normalize serum cholesterol and triglycerides

  2. Anna, do you by chance have a yogurt recipe or instructions? Or a link for them? I have been dying to make some for Barrett and he really needs the fats in coconut milk but he won't drink it plain.

  3. For the yogurt, see My comment above has the info about the non-dairy starter option. I'm going to try this too.

    I keep reading about traditionally fermented dairy products neutralizing the casein, as in artisan aged cheese, homemade yogurt, creme fraiche fraiche, etc. And since we don't have any obvious GI issues (though a few years back both my husband and I also noticed the lack of gas and subtle things when I quit grains with my LC diet) I wonder if we might sometime again be able to reintroduce traditional cultured/fermented (not commercial) dairy foods when we have been off gluten for a while. It's becoming quite clear to me that industrial processing of these "new" foods is quite different to how people hand-processed dairy and wheat up to only 100 years ago, and maybe the short-cuts the industry makes increases the problems the proteins create. But in the meantime, I'm focussing on the elimination. I'll experiment with the cultured casein later. I don't think there is a lot of data on that issue of industrial vs traditional and it may come down to individual experience, too.

    I make soup very often with coconut milk, in a Thai sort of way (but without a lot of hot spice) and it goes over very well with my family and can incorporate a lot of variety, clean out the fridge, and if you keep the pantry stocked with the ingredients, is very fast to make. Basically, simmer together broth, coconut milk, veggies (usually carrots, cauliflower florets), minced garlic, lime juice, whatever protein you want (raw or leftover cooked dice/shredded chicken, browned ground beef/bison/pork, leftover cooked pork, ever seafood like diced white fish, shrimp, clams, scallops, etc., season to taste with a bit of Thai fish sauce, and chopped basil or cilantro to garnish. It hardly takes any time and is easily adjustable. I got the basic recipe idea from Nourishing Traditions and Eat Fat, Lose Fat (based on coconut foods), both by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig of the Weston A Price Foundation.

    Just last night I made a portion of soup just for myself, with a cup of leftover taco-seasoned ground bison meat, a cup of homemade coconut milk (I was out of broth and wanted a thicker soup anyway), 1 tbl fish sauce (made from fermented anchovies - watch out for too much, it's salty, smells awful from the bottle, but is a delicious & nutritious seasoning), lots of cauliflower florets and julienned carrots, with cilantro. Simmer it all together a few minutes until the veggies are cooked, then garnish with basil or cilantro. Yummy and very filling. You can add chopped greens near the end of cooking, too, if you like (chard, spinach, arugula, kale, whole basic leaves, etc.).

    I use coconut milk in smoothies (hand-held stick blenders rock!), in baked egg custard (though I guess that's not a good option for you), homemade ice cream, even hot cocoa.

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