Living A Dairy-Free Life - Milk & Butter Alternatives

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    I get asked all the time what do you eat if you can't eat dairy. I have been living a dairy free for about 6 years now. I was diagnosed with a dairy intolerance when I was 23, after a year of elimination diets, blood tests and a Gastrosocopy to confirm what I wondered all along. I could no longer handle dairy. So what the heck do you eat if you can't eat dairy?? I hope to help answer that for you in this post and give you some tips, alternatives and recipes to help you on your way.

 I know being told you have to cut out a total food group out of your diet is pretty frustrating. It probably puts fear in a lot of peoples hearts... giving up your beloved chocolate or ice cream is a bit of a deal breaker, especially if you have eaten it most of your life. You also find yourself in the situation if you're are new mum and have had to sacrifice your cheese and yoghurt for the sake of bub's digestion. Now I am no nutritionist, dietitian or doctor just to let you know. I just want to write out what dairy alternatives I use in everyday life to give you a few suggestions of what is available and that there is life without dairy. Now I am writing this from an Australian perspective, I know there is a lot more alternative products in the US that we don't have yet - just to let you know.

 Milk Alternatives:

Milk is one of the main sources of calcium after cheese. I remember as a child drinking endless cups of milk (with lots of teaspoons of Milo added) for an after school snack. When I was first diagnosed with being dairy intolerant I had no idea of what I would use on my cereal. There was not a lot of milk alternatives available when I was first diagnosed. I would have to say the availability of new dairy free products on the market have exploded in recent years. Anyway back to milk, there are a few different milk alternatives that you can choose from, it all depends on your taste.

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  • Oat Milk: Made from ground oats, water and added sweeteners this milk is what I started using on my breakfast cereal. It has a "oaty" flavour which is expected. It can overpower other flavours such as coffee or tea.

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  • Rice Milk : Made from ground brown rice and water this is what I switched too for a number of years after I discovered it on the supermarket shelves one day. It is very sweet and often make me feel a bit nauseous if I drank it by itself, however it did not have such an overpowering flavour as the oat milk and it was my staple for a long time.

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  • Almond Milk: Made from ground almonds and water this milk is now my favourite milk to drink and use. It is much milder in flavour as the others and you can buy it sweetened or unsweetened. I opt for the unsweetened version as I find it tastes much more like "milk". This has probably only come onto the mainstream supermarket shelves in the last few years and I have noticed it becoming more and more popular as I struggle to get any when I go grocery shopping. You can make your own almond milk as I have shown in this post.
  • Soy Milk: Made from pressing ground cooked soy beans together to create a high protien milk.  I use to drink soy milk in my cappuccino as special treat however I have stopped drinking it altogether as I find I react to it a bit. I wish more cafes would get on board to using other milk alternatives such as almond milk or rice milk for people who are allergic to soy. Some days I crave a nice frothy cappuccino but end up getting a cup of tea because I don't want to drink soy.
  • Lactose Free Milk: This milk has had the enzyme "lactase" added to help breakdown the milk-sugar enzyme "lactose"making it easier to digest. It still contains dairy however and I find I still cannot digest this milk and cannot drink it. This milk can be used for people who can still digest some amount of dairy.

Butter Alternatives:

For the first year of being diagnosed with dairy intolerance I ate my toast with no butter on it. Just a scraping of vegemite or avocado. I didn't know if there was anything out there at the time that I could use as a butter alternative. This stopped me eating any cakes or biscuits as I couldn't make anything other than a cake with using oil. I think I started patrolling the supermarket shelves a little bit closer so I could see if I could find anything that I could use. I eventually found a spread that I could use on my toast and bake with.

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  • Nuttelex: This is my go to butter alternative. It is made from sunflower and vegetables oils and it contains no traces of dairy. I can't vouch for the how "healthy" it is but I use it in moderation. It holds up well when baked in a cake and muffins and used in biscuits and slices. I found it to kind of separates a little bit when I use it to make a buttercream or any type of icing. That being said it still tastes fine but looks a little grainy. I use this 95% of the time in any baked goods and you couldn't tell that it was a dairy free butter used in it. 
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  • Coconut Oil: I use this to bake with all the time. Mainly in cakes, slices and muffins and some biscuit recipes and use it in the same ratio as the recipe calls for. Such as 1 cup of butter = 1 cup coconut oil. I haven't used it on my toast but I am sure it will taste alright if you're that way inclined.
  • Olive Oil/Rice Bran Oil: I only use oil as a butter alternative in baking. Not on my toast! Ha. If I have run out of butter I generally sub in oil as the fat for a cake, muffin or slice. I have used it in my Peanut Butter and Choc Chunk Cookies and they turned out really scrummy. If you are using oil in a biscuit recipe it could make the biscuit go crunchier and not melt-in-you-mouth soft like butter does. Keep that in mind when you are subbing ingredients in and out.
There are soy and lactose free butters available too but again it depends on your taste and what your tummy can handle. I haven't tried any of these types as I said before I can't digest them very well. All of the milk and butter alternatives I have talked about in this post should be able to be bought from your local supermarket. I know health food and specialised foods shops probably stock other forms of these products as well.

I could write all day on a heap of different types of products that are out there but I will wrap this post up here for now. In part two of Living a Dairy Free life we will talk about yoghurt, cheese and ice cream alternatives and what most women hanker for chocolate! Yes you can still eat your chocolate too! If you have any questions or want to know more about eating dairy free Contact me here and I will answer any questions you may have. In the mean time why not pop on over to the dairy free section on my recipe page to tantalize your taste buds a bit and get some ideas of things to cook.

Just to tantalize your taste buds I have this dairy free Banana, Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mousse recipe coming up in the next few weeks! Keep your eyes peeled for it!

Part 2: Yoghurt & Ice-Cream Alternatives
Part 3: Cheese, Cream & Chocolate Alternatives

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