Got (Plant) Milk? Tips on How to Live Dairy-Free

image from shutterstock , #356792147

image from shutterstock , #356792147

Whether you’ve decided to go dairy free due to an allergy or intolerance, a desire to eat fewer animal-based foods, or simply as an experiment to see how your body responds, there are a few things to keep in mind.

How do I make sure I am eating or drinking enough calcium and protein?

For many people dairy is a key source of protein, and calcium, but it’s not the only source of these nutrients. One cup of cow’s milk provides 8 grams of protein, an ounce of cheese contains 6-7 grams, and a plain single serve container of Greek yogurt or a half cup of cottage cheese can supply up to 15 grams. Dairy foods also generally provide 15-30% of the daily recommended calcium intake per serving. 

If you’ve been relying on dairy for these nutrients, and you’re now omitting dairy from your diet, be sure to include alternative sources. For example, two ounces of sardines canned in water provides 11 grams of protein and 15% of the recommended calcium intake. A half cup of canned white beans contains 8 grams of protein and 8% of a day’s calcium needs. An ounce of almonds supplies 6 grams of protein and 8% for calcium.

Dairy free “milks” made from plants, such as almond and coconut, are also commonly fortified with calcium, and can provide up to a third of your daily needs per cup. Plant milks are typically low in protein, however, so be sure to read Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods to be clear about which nutrients they supply.

What will I do without butter and cream for my recipes?

When preparing meals, snacks, or recipes, there are several simple substitutions for dairy-based ingredients. Instead of butter for sautéing and cooking you can opt for virgin coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil (note: coconut oil works well when you want to mimic the richness of butter). Spread whole grain toast with almond butter or mashed avocado in place of dairy butter. Make creamy sauces, soups, and casseroles using almond or coconut milk as a base, thickened with pureed cauliflower. Dips and heavier sauces can be made with tahini (sesame seed paste), or pureed white beans, and flours made from chickpeas or fava beans work well as thickeners. Mashed cannellini beans seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and herbs offer an excellent replacement for cottage cheese in Italian recipes, like veggie lasagna. In omelets or tacos use sliced or chopped avocado in place of shredded cheese. Garnish cooked veggies and pasta dishes with chopped nuts or pumpkin or sunflower seeds in place of cheese. These days you’ll also find dairy free versions of yogurt, kefir, and even ice cream at most mainstream grocery stores made from plant-based milks.

Any recipe suggestions?

To experiment yourself check out the dairy free recipes on our website http://www.rawl.net/recipes/dairy-free . You’ll find creamy smoothies, dips, casserole, pancakes, and even chocolate truffles and pudding made without a drop of dairy. If you give them a try please share your feedback. Or let us know what your favorite trick is for swapping out dairy ingredients, or why you’ve opted to go dairy free.