Living A Dairy Free Life: Cheese, Cream & Chocolate Alternatives



I will continue my series on Living A Dairy Free Life you can read Part 1 & Part 2 here.
These two subjects that I am talking about today are probably one of the hardest things I had to try and find substitutes for in the early days of my dairy intolerance diagnosis. I adored my cheese and chocolate and was a little bit miffed realising that I will now have to forgo all chocolaty and cheese goodness for the rest of my life. Gosh what was I going to binge on when I had PMS! Ha.

Anyway lets start off with an important staple to any persons fridge... Cheese!

Cheese Alternatives: 
Cheese is a very important ingredient in a lot of dishes. Think pizza, pasta, lasagna, cheese platters and grilled sandwiches. I am sorry to say but I still struggle with what to substitute as a dairy free alternative for cheese. It is something that I have searched high and low for something that is similar to the real deal. I had given up looking before writing this post but I did a bit of googling and come up with a few other alternatives that I didn't know existed so I will tell you about them and I am going to give them a try for myself once I find a stockist.

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  • Soy Cheese: This cheese is from soy beans combined with a culture to create a cheese like consistency. I tried a version of this but was put of by the flavour but that was many years ago now. They have probably come up with better versions of it now so give it a go before writing it off. This is fairly easy to find and can be bought at most local supermarkets or from the online store that I found these other cheeses below.

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  • Almond Milk Cheese: I only stumbled across this type of cheese on my google search while writing this post. It is made up from the crushed almonds and a culture just as the soy is and set to create a firm cheese like consistency. I have not tried this one yet but it is on the top of my list to get some and try it. It does contain a milk protein which could possibly react with some people, namely me but I may be able to have it in small doses and for special occasions. If you feel game you could try to make your own.
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  • Rice Based Cheese: This is again a find from my google search. It is from the same company that I found that stocked the Soy and Almond cheeses. It is made form a mixture of basmati and brown rice mixed with a culture to create a cheese consistency. This one also contains the milk protein which may have some affect on some people. It would be a great alternative for those who are allergic to soy and nuts.
  • Goat & Sheep's Milk Cheese: These cheeses are made from the milk of goats and sheep - thus the name. Sometimes these varieties of milk can be easier to digest than the bovine counterparts. However these may still have an effect on some people. Always check the label that the cheese is 100% made from these animals as sometimes it is mixed with cow's milk which could lead to all kinds of problems. I use goat's milk feta on my pizza as a cheese alternative but only in small amounts. I can only seem to take it in small doses (about a tablespoon) and only every few days. If I eat in a couple of days in a row I certainly know about it and so does my husband if you know what I mean! :-) These cheeses as with the yoghurts and milk made from these animals have a stronger and distinct flavour. It may take some getting use to if you struggle with the taste of it. I don't mind it and actually enjoy it.

Cream Alternatives:
Ahh the decadence of freshly whipped cream on a Victorian sponge cake topped with strawberries or a dollop of sour cream on freshly baked potato wedges and don't forget my favourite a new york baked cheese cake! Oh yes please. These foods are a dairy nightmare for a lactose intolerant or a breast feeding mum trying to avoid dairy for her baby's sake. It took some time for me to realise I cannot eat a cheesecake anymore. Sad fact but true. I have found a few alternatives to these decadent dairy items but they are not exactly the same.

  • Cream/Whipped Cream: Cream is the basis for many desserts and some savoury dishes such as cheesecakes and creamy pastas. The best substitute for cream that I have come up is to use coconut milk or cream. You can substitute coconut milk/cream for cream in things such as making custards, baked tarts, sauces and other yummy desserts. Depending on the creaminess and thickness you require you need to choose from the coconut milk (runny less thick consistency) or coconut cream ( thicker, creamier consistency). You can also use this coconut milk to make your own "whipped" cream. Read about it here. You do need to remember that this is not a plain flavour base that normal cream brings, whatever you add it too will have a coconut flavour so bear that in mind when you are cooking with it.
    • Lactose Free Cream: You can also buy this in the supermarket but with all lactose free products it does contain dairy. So if you are avoiding dairy altogether I would avoid using this. I am not sure on the consistency of this product and how it stands up to beating etc.
  • Sour Cream: This is another one I scratched my head with for ages trying to figure out what to substitute it with. There is soy based sour creams out there which can be purchased from most supermarkets but as I have said before I tend to avoid soy products. I sometimes use a goat's milk yoghurt as sour cream on top of nachos or burritos as it has a nice tang which mimics what sour cream is like. There are versions of sour cream that you can make yourself from nuts and other ingredients. Read about it here. The recipe uses a thermomix but I am sure a good food processor would do the trick as well, just would take a tad longer. 
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  • Cream Cheese: This one I only have just recently found out what to substitute it with and it is a little more complex than just finding something in the supermarket. There is Soy versions available for purchase but I wanted something that didn't contain soy products. I found this recipe over at Healthful Pursuit that opened up a new world of recipes for me. The cream cheese is made using cashews that are slightly fermented overnight to give it a nice tang. I made the Pomegranate Cheesecake (pictured at the top) with the cashew cream cheese and found it to be quite delectable. It does take a bit of effort to make but for a special occasion it is definitely worth the effort.
Drum rolll... The one all us girls have been waiting for CHOCOLATE!

Chocolate Alternatives:
Does the thought of never eating chocolate again stab fear into your heart? Never fear there are other dairy-free chocolate alternatives that you can indulge in without upsetting your stomach or bub's if your breast feeding. There are new brands popping up all the time which are dairy free, gluten free, soy free, nut free, sugar free etc. So it is really a matter of taste and preference. These are some of the dairy free chocolates that I have found on the market at the moment.

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  • Sweet William: This brand is found in most supermarkets and comes in a variety of types such as milk, white etc as well as chocolate spreads, cooking chocolate and a few specialty varieties. This chocolate is made from cocoa butter and soy flour as well as other ingredients to get a creamy chocolate consistency. It does have a different flavour than your run of the mill chocolate but they all will because they don't contain dairy.
  • Loving Earth Chocolate: This brand of chocolate  you will most likely find in your local health food or organic shop shop. It is made from organic ingredients and boasts not only a dairy free tag but also cane sugar and gluten free as well as being vegan, low GI and fair trade!  There is a range of different flavours that you can choose from such as Coconut Mylk, Dark Coconut Sugar, Crunchy  Mint Chocolate just to name a few. They can come in block size or in conveniently little packets just big enough to pop  into your mouth. I have tasted this chocolate and it is pretty nice probably the closest to real chocolate that I have tasted.
  • Moo Free Chocolate: This chocolate I have only found online but I am sure they are available in a shop somewhere. The main ingredients in this chocolate is organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter and organic rice powder. I haven't tasted it so I cannot comment on what the consistency and flavour is like.
  • 70-80% Dark Chocolate: Some brands of dark chocolate contain high levels of cocoa  solids and do not contain any dairy - always check the label before purchasing though. One of these brands is Lindt Chocolate. You can read their FAQ here explaining what chocolate types are dairy free in their range. I tend to lean towards buying a block of good quality dark chocolate and enjoying two squares once or twice a week as a treat.
I hope this post has been helpful for you to understand what other alternatives are out there for you to substitute. It is difficult initially trying to adjust to a new way of eating but with time it will become second nature and you will continute to eat without realising what you thought you were missing out on! In my next post I hope to showcase a few recipe to help you on your way with Living A Dairy Free Life!

Part 1: Milk & Butter Alternatives
Part 2: Yoghurt & Ice-Cream Alternatives
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