Do you have a dairy allergy or just wanting to eliminate dairy from your diet? Here is how to start a dairy free diet and still make your favorite recipes.
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When our family set out on our whole food journey, one of the first changes we made was switching to organic milk, organic cheese and all whole milk dairy. Of course, we thought we were doing everything right until my son was diagnosed with a rare disorder called Eosinophilic Esophagitis, which is a chronic disorder of the esophagus in which white blood cells called eosinophils can build up in the esophagus. Finding the allergic food trigger can bring the eosinophils down , which can help symptoms immensely. After many scopes and eliminations, my son was finally in remission and dairy was the food allergen.
Our Journey And How We Started Our Dairy Free Diet
As a mom, I had lots of concerns about removing dairy from our family’s diet. Where will we get our calcium and our Vit, D? My son was also allergic to tree nuts, so what milk do we drink? We can’t drink almond milk and what about cross contamination? I was a worried momma for sure.
But one thing I was very good at , was research. I had researched so much about my son’s disorder, I knew I could figure this whole dairy free thing out. Its been almost 2 years and our family has had no dairy, we all feel so much better and we don’t even miss it.
How To Get Nutrients Without Dairy
One thing our family found out is that eating a whole foods diet, you get nutrition from all kinds of sources, even calcium. Here are some sources sources of calcium:
1 Leafy greens like collards and kale.
2 Broccoli -1 cup cooked is 60 mg
3 Oranges-1 whole is 55 mg
4 Sesame Seeds -sprinkle on salads and meals
5 Canned white beans-cooked
7 Fortified plant based milks like oat, almond( if not allergic), hemp and rice.
8 Sardines and mackerel
Another important nutrient that is important when not consuming dairy is Vitamin D, here are some sources:
Sunshine- #1 source of Vitamin D. When the sun is out , especially in the winter, bundle up and soak up that sun. Our skin combined with the suns UVB rays creates Vitamin D3.
Fatty Fish – Tuna, Mackerel, Halibut and Sardines are good choices.
Egg yoks- Don’t skip the yolks, good source of Vitamin D.
Plant based milks- Most plant based milks are fortified with Vitamin D.
How to Cook From Scratch on a Dairy Free Diet
Eliminating dairy can change how you cook from scratch , most home cooks are used to using real butter, real cheese and creams for sauces. In the 2 years we have been without dairy in our family, we haven’t missed out at all on good wholesome meals from scratch. We still enjoy homemade baked goods, pies , cakes and even homemade donuts.
Tips for a Dairy Free Kitchen
1 Milks and Creams– Oat milk, Rice milk, Almond Milk ( if not allergic) and Coconut milks can all replace whole milk in recipes that call for milk. for gravies, mashed potatoes and savory dishes you may want to use an unsweetened dairy free milk.
Unsweetened Canned coconut milk can be used in place of heavy cream for cream sauces and can be whipped to make a wonderful whipped topping. ( refrigerate the can for 24 hours and use to the solid coconut milk from the top of the can for best results with a touch of maple syrup) Yum!
Smoothies can be made with the rest of the can of coconut milk. Try this Dairy Free Coconut Blueberry Smoothie.
2 Yogurt-There are a variety of yogurts that are dairy free and plain yogurt can be used in place of sour cream for tacos (yes, tacos on a dairy free diet)dips for vegetables and crackers. By adding herbs and seasonings you can create wonderful toppings from yogurt. Our favorite is So Delicious coconut based plain yogurt. We use this for smoothies as well.
3 Baking-when baking calls for butter or shortening , there are dairy free alternatives that are healthy like unrefined coconut oil, olive or avocado oil and if butter is needed for things like biscuits, plant based butters are available. We use coconut oil and olive oil for most of our baking and don’t miss the butter at all. Try Dairy Free Pumpkin Donuts.
We also use plant based butters for special times like freshly baked rolls and to top our pancakes.
4 Ice cream-Oh and we cant forget ice cream! Dairy free ice cream is so easy to make and so much healthier than the others and did I say Delicious!
Ice cream can be made by blending frozen bananas( we always have a large container of frozen bananas in the freezer) , cold canned coconut milk( the solid portion from top of can works best), any fruits like berries , a little maple syrup and blend well. You will be surprised how easy this was and a great way to add fruits with WAY less sugar than traditional ice creams.
To make a chocolate ice cream, use all the same ingredients from above but add cocoa and sunbutter or nut butter f not allergic. We can have peanut butter( but no nut butters) in our home , so that is what we add. t makes a really YUMMY chocolate ice cream. Your kids will LOVE it!
Watch Out For Hidden Dairy Ingredients
Even though most of our food in our home comes from whole food, there are times that we need to purchase foods that have a label. We try not eat anything with more than 4 or 5 ingredients and ingredients that we are familiar with but for anyone starting this dairy free journey and especially if you have any dairy allergies, these ingredients should be AVOIDED.
Casein, Caseinate, Cheese, Creams, Curds
Full fat dairy, Ghee, Kefir
Lactose, Lactalbumin, Lactoglobulin, Lactulose
Benefits of Eliminating Dairy
1 Digestion– removing dairy can help with digestive problems and help your digestive system become more consistent.
2 Skin-Dairy is a major cause of oils and inflammation. Studies have shown that eliminating dairy can clear up skin and prevent acne.
3 Thyroid-milk products promote growth and produces more mucus and inflammation. Eliminating dairy can help restore the thyroid function and help reduce the symptoms of hypothyroidism. I personally have hypothyroidism , and after eliminating dairy for the last 2 years , my levels have been normal and I personally have more energy and feel overall much better.
A Personal Choice
I do want to say that changing to a dairy free lifestyle is a personal choice and for medical reasons can save a persons life. Many children and adults have dairy allergies and this can be very serious. In my son’s case, if he continued to eat dairy products, his esophagus would become so inflamed that one day he would just choke on his food.
I am in no way against dairy or dairy farmers. I think dairy can have health benefits for those who consume in moderation. My husband grew up in Wisconsin , the dairy state and will always be supportive to the local farmers.
Living a dairy free lifestyle does not mean you have to give up on your favorite recipes. There is always a dairy free alternative!