My Best Dairy Free Swaps
It’s time to share the best dairy free products I use the most in my kitchen. Making the switch to a dairy free lifestyle can feel overwhelming at first, but I’m here to make it easier. These non dairy swaps are easy to add to your own kitchen, and help make the transition easier.
A dairy free swap eliminates the potential for lactase, the dairy sugar, to cause inflammation in your body. It also cuts out the casein and whey that can also lead to digestive issues, skin issues, or mood disorders. Inflammation shows up in everyone differently, and eliminating dairy it a great chance to see how your body responds.
Why go Dairy Free?
This is a question I explain most often to clients. Dairy has so many factors that can potentially cause inflammation in your body, which shows up in lots of different ways. For some people dairy intolerance or dairy sensitivity can cause:
- bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea
- stuffy nose, itchy eyes
- skin issues/rashes/adult acne
- brain fog
- hormone imbalance
That’s a LONG list! Isn’t it worth testing it out a couple weeks with no dairy to see how you feel? This list of my favorite dairy free food products can help get you started.
Best Dairy Free Yogurts
Compared to just a couple of years ago, there is a huge amount of choice when it comes to a dairy free yogurt. You can find them in both single serving and larger bulk sizes. The key is to read ingredients and do some taste testing. Start with the plain version to avoid added sugar, which also causes inflammation.
Best Non Dairy Yogurts
I do buy the flavored single serve options of the So Delicious Coconut yogurt for my boys, despite the added sugar. They both love them and I would rather they get a healthy dose of probiotics in the winter, even with the added sugar. They are not perfect, but it’s one of those treats that I’m okay with. I would rather they eat less dairy overall, and this helps us achieve that goal.
Best Dairy Free Milk
Switching to a dairy free milk was the first step I took when going dairy free. It was after learning how to make almond milk from my nutrition mentor Megan Telpner at the Academy of Culinary Nutrition. Seeing someone make it from scratch made me realize I can too, which I try to share in many of my cooking classes too.
If you don’t want to bother with milk bags or nut sacks 🤣 there are lots of delicious dairy free milk options on the market. These too have come a long way in the past couple of years.
You will find a mix of shelf stable “milks” and also a selection in the refrigerator section of your grocery store. I prefer the cold options as they are fresher and tend to have less ingredients.
The least amount of ingredients in my non-dairy milks is my benchmark for a “good” milk. Taste is a close second. What I don’t want is for it to be filled with a ton of starchy, gummy ingredients that can also cause inflammation. We don’t want to trade one inflammatory issue for another.
Here’s my top non-dairy milk picks:
There is no shortage of dairy free milk options. I am highlighting these three as they have fewest ingredients and the least processed. Califia Farms is another widely available option, and is what I will grab in a pinch if I can’t find the first three.
What you need to watch out for is the added sugar in many dairy free milk options. Read the ingredient list and check out the nutrition label. Even the almond milk at Starbucks often has added sugar.
Dairy free milk options are Whole30 compliant, and I primarily recommend those made with almond, cashew, or coconut. Hemp milk is another non-dairy option, but I can’t say I love the flavor. Rice milk tends to be very mild, but also has no nutritional value.
Oat milk is the newest player, but I haven’t found a store bought option I will recommend. The most popular one, Oatly, contains Canola oil which is a big NO in my book. I’ve made it from scratch once and will keep working on figuring out the best method as it’s a little finicky compared to my homemade almond milk.
Best Dairy Free Shredded Cheese
Tricky category, I know. But we’ve had the most success at the family dinner with the So Delicious coconut milk shredded cheese. It melts a bit, can work on a pizza, and it great over pasta.
The other alternative is to use something called nutritional yeast. It’s full of B vitamins and gives a dish a cheesy flavor. You can get it at Trader Joe’s, or online via Amazon. A little goes a long way so one bag will last awhile.
Best Dairy Free Ice Cream
The So Delicious Cashew milk ice cream is a winner with everyone in my house. I’ve been know to grab my own as a treat if my kids want ice cream and they pick out their favorite. You know what happens…they eat mine instead! So now we will buy one to share, and it’s small so it doesn’t last long. (which is honestly a good thing because if there’s ice cream around, we will all get into it!)
We’ve also had the coconut milk options and they are nearly as delicious. It’s a great way to offer ice cream to someone who is lactose intolerant and doesn’t want to feel left out.