There are many reasons to avoid dairy these days whether it’s as a result of allergies, lactose intolerance, or environmental & animal rights issues. Many people also choose to avoid dairy simply because they feel healthier, lighter or less congested when they minimize or cut out dairy products.
The risk of choosing non-dairy options is that there are a lot of processed, unhealthy alternatives out there. Just because something is non-dairy doesn’t necessarily mean it’s free of harmful additives, chemicals or unhealthy ingredients. The good news is that while those products certainly exist, there are also plenty of whole food dairy alternatives that we can all integrate into our daily lives!
1. Milk–>Almond or Coconut Milk
Replacing conventional milk with a non-dairy option is easier than ever these days. There are lots of options that you can find in your local grocery store. My personal favorites include coconut milk and almond milk. I find these two to have the greatest nutrient value and best taste without some of the negative side affects that some people can experience from soy milk, rice milk, etc.
For almond milk, the best option is to make your own, especially if you have a high powered blender. You can find some very simple recipes online. If you’re unable to make your own, make sure to choose a packaged variety that is unsweetened and free of harmful additives like carrageenan. (Whole Foods brand almond milk is a great option). Almond milk makes a great milk alternative for tea, cereal or as a smoothie base.
For coconut milk, buying a can at the store is an easy and cost effective option. Make sure to choose an unsweetened variety and preferably, one that is organic. Coconut milk is thick so if you’re missing that half and half in your morning coffee, coconut milk is a fantastic choice. Coconut milk also works wonderfully as an alternative in many recipes that call for full fat dairy like creamy soups, desserts (including ice cream) and curry.
2. Cheese–>Sliced Avocado
A lot of traditional dairy-free cheese is highly processed and often contains harmful additives or soy which some people find difficult to digest. One great alternative to cheese is surprisingly, avocado. Instead of sprinkling cheese on your salad, try sliced avocado. Sliced or mashed avocado also makes a great alternative to melted cheese on bread, hamburgers or even a grilled cheese sandwich.
3. Whipped Cream–>Cashew Cream
Just because you decide to go dairy-free doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to whipped cream! A great whole food alternative is cashew cream. You can find a simple recipe here – Use cashew cream as you would use traditional whipped cream – spread on top of fresh berries, ice cream or even pancakes!
4. Yogurt–>Chia Pudding
Dairy-free yogurts are popping up on store shelves nationwide. But, like most conventional dairy-free alternatives, these can often be full of processed ingredients and loads of sugar. If you’re craving that smooth & creamy yogurt in the morning, an amazing & nutritious alternative is to make chia pudding. Simply combine chia seeds & your favorite dairy-free milk alternative, let sit over night and voila! You can add whatever you’d like to your chia pudding such as cacao powder, maca, fresh berries, sliced bananas, nut butter, etc. For a super simple yet tasty recipe, check out Annie’s favorite Vanilla Cloud chia pudding -