Easy Ingredient Swaps for Dairy-Free Meals January 25, 2017

by Tips & Tricks
About 65 percent of the world’s population lose their ability to produce lactase enzymes after infancy, which means there’s a whole lot of people out there seeking dairy-free meals. Continue reading to learn how to achieve that same creamy flavor, just without the dairy! 

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Lactase is the very thing that helps us digest lactose – the form of sugar found in dairy products. Without it, we develop an intolerance to lactose and may suffer from some not-so-pleasant digestive issues. A milk allergy, on the other hand, is due to an inflammatory response to the proteins found in milk. But in both cases, the solution is to limit or avoid dairy products entirely.
Although it sounds difficult (milk, butter, and cheese are EVERYWHERE), it’s not impossible to go dairy-free, and it certainly doesn’t sacrifice flavor.

1. Butter

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When cooking, replace this dairy-based animal fat with plant-based olive oil. If you are feeling adventurous, you can also try cooking with coconut oil — but be aware that it does lend a particular flavor to the food (which you may very well fall in love with). When baking, swap out butter for sweet bananas, creamy ripe avocado, or silken tofu.

  • 1 cup butter = 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 1 tablespoon butter = ½ tablespoon avocado
  • 1 tablespoon butter =  1 tablespoon pureed silken tofu

2. Cheese

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Those with dairy sensitivities will often find that the firmer the cheese (we’re looking at you Parmesan and pecorino), the easier it is to digest. However, if you’re looking to completely kick dairy to the curb, nutritional yeast flakes are the way to go. These dairy-free and gluten-free flakes are an inactive yeast grown on sugar cane and beet molasses, then dried into a flake or powder form. They have a savory cheese flavor and are also an excellent source of vitamin B12 (a bonus to all the vegetarians/vegans out there).

3. Yogurt/Sour Cream

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With the rise of dairy-free soy and nut milks, we have also seen an increase in the availability of dairy-free yogurts. Soy, almond, and coconut milk yogurt are now a staple in most grocery stores and still contain those gut-loving probiotics we love. When it comes to sour cream, a simple swap is to substitute luscious and silky avocado. And if you’re feeling especially adventurous, try using cashew cream. The flavor will knock your socks off!

4. Bread

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SURPRISE! Bread is often a hidden source of dairy. Sneaky, right? To ensure you aren’t eating bread that contains dairy, carefully review the ingredient list and keep an eye out for butter, buttermilk, casein, caseinate, cheese, cream, curds, custard, diacetyl, ghee, lactose, sour cream, whey, or yogurt.

Now that you’ve got these tips down, put your knowledge to good use by making this delicious vegan chocolate pudding!
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