It is ridiculous how much dairy we eat in our family. From the milk in cereal in the morning to ice cream before bed (not the kids! DH!) I have been noticing it recently and realized that almost *every* meal we eat involves some kind of dairy.
I want to try to cut it out, but will have to do so slowly and in steps. If I bring it up, everyone will nod and smile and say that it is a great idea to cut dairy out, but there will be complaints if I switch us cold-turkey to a non-dairy diet. (And, to be honest, I'm not sure I know HOW to do that!)
Does anyone have advice on how to remove dairy from your diet slowly? Stories of what they cut out first and foods they subsituted? Are there any resources out there that would help me?
Try one non-dairy meal at a time, and build up a repetoire. Non-dairy milks swap directly into recipes, I use soy, almond, rice and coconut milk just by substituting them. You can make an awesome alfredo sauce out of soaked raw cashews, also, blending cashews with water will make a great heavy cream alternative, or a ranch dressing. I add blended cashews to tomato soup, broccoli soup and marinara sauce.
I may not be the best person to respond, as I've been very allergic to dairy since birth. But I became vegetarian for ethical reasons 20 years ago and so had to learn to stop eating meat, which I had always found quite delicious and was part of nearly every meal until then. So I do know about how to change eating habits.
It will be much easier to tackle the in-house dairy consumption before dealing with what everyone eats out of the house. And you can always work with one dairy product at a time or one meal at a time. I'd recommend looking at some vegan cookbooks (especially for baked goods/pancakes/creamy sauces/etc.) to get some dairy free recipes. It does take a bit of time for taste buds to adjust so even if one particular alternative doesn't cut it immediately, it may "pass" a year later.
Milk - it is really, really easy to substitute alternative milks in baked goods. Typically you'd want to stick to a nut/hemp/soy milk as rice or potato don't always do so well. For breakfast cereals you could have your family have a taste-test to see if there is a favorite non-dairy milk or if none immediately appeal, then you could always blend a banana or other fruit into the milk and pour that over the breakfast cereal.
Butter - for vegetable cooking, you could switch to coconut oil or olive oil. For spreading on bread, coconut butter is delicious. There is always margarine - just avoid the trans fat ones.
Ice Creams - there are some delicious alternatives in grocery stores now. They are often expensive though. I have a friend who makes her own vegan ice creams and they are just amazing! Much cheaper too.
Cheese - hmmm, this always seems to be the hardest for people. Maybe other posters will have suggestions there.
And since you are planning to do this over an extended amount of time, you can make this pleasant for your family. Just keep trying out new things, keep going with what the family likes, and maybe modify the things that they aren't wild about to see if they like it in a revised form.
We've been dairy free at various times in our lives, and are just about to go dairy free again. It's causing me a lot of discomfort (I get congested and start coughing when I consume milk or cheese) and since I'm getting read to nurse a baby again, I don't want to cause my infant any problems.
Currently, our refrigerator is stocked with rice, almond, and coconut milk. The coconut one is not really anyone's favorite, so I'll probably use it to make baked goods or pancakes. I personally love almond milk for cereal/oatmeal. Some of my kids prefer rice milk.
Cheese is a tough one. I'm having a hard time myself getting excited about a lasagna or pan of enchiladas without. But I know it's just something we need to adjust. I agree, vegan blogs are a nice source of ideas and recipes.
We use olive oil for most things. I haven't stopped butter yet (mainly because it doesn't bother me noticeably), but Earth Balance margarine (make sure it's the casein free one) is fine on toast. I agree with a pp that coconut oil is good, too.
For anyone looking for a vegan/dairy free way to make lasagna, this Tofu ricotta recipe is amazing. I've used it to make lasagna and stuffed shells. Even my DH who can eat dairy said it was awesome. http://www.godairyfree.org/Recipes/Cheese-Subs/Tofu-Ricotta-Vegan-Gluten-Free-Nut-Free.html
As far as margarine goes Earth Balance is my favorite. I cook and bake with soy and coconut milk since we are nut free as well. I only use the unsweetened versions for cooking and baking though. Coconut oil for pop corn is yummy. Trader Joes has soy ice cream that is really good, and much cheaper than other brands. Coconut milk ice cream and yogurt are my favorites, but a special treat because of price.
I feel so freed! I've recently returned to veg-living (after a 4 year break) and would like to go dairy free but cannot give up my butter. Earth balance..how have I missed this?
http://www.bookofyum.com/blog/soy-free-dairy-free-but-still-decadent-cheesy-spinach-lasagna-366.html This is a great recipe for "ricotta" made out of pine nuts. Since pine nuts are pretty expensive, I put some chickpeas in with it and some caramelized onion and garlic for additional flavor (and veggies).
I make coconut milk yogurt with minimal sugar (it needs a little sugar to feed the starter) and then I use it for sour cream on baked potatoes or as a dip for veggies with some onion powder and dillweed, or I can use it in cream of mushroom soup or beef stroganoff. I also use coconut milk in baking and sometimes in smoothies.
I use half almond milk and half rice milk on cereal to get the right consistency (almond milk is a little too thick and rice milk is a little too thin). We use palm shortening for a butter sub in baking and on rolls and such (we're dairy, gluten, soy, corn free and more so none of the commercial "subs" work for us). We make waffles that don't have eggs or milk in them (and pancakes), and muffins. We use Coconut Bliss or So Delicious coconut milk ice cream, and I've made my own. For cheese, the only decent one I've found is Rice Vegan block cheddar (tastes great in mac & cheese with rice or almond milk). And their mozzarella isn't bad either (I've used it on pizza, lasagna, and eggplant parm). I prefer the pine nut ricotta on the pizza though, because I didn't like the mozzarella on it quite as much (probably because it doesn't have much flavor). My DS likes the American cheese slices for grilled slice. I wasn't a fan. If milk is the only thing you're avoiding, the soy cheeses might be okay. DS can't do almonds, but there's an almond version out there as well. You have to be careful though because a lot of the cheese subs still have casein (milk protein) in them (don't ask why; I have no earthly clue unless it's only for lactose intolerant people since vegans can't eat it and neither can milk-allergic people).
We went cold turkey because we had to due to food intolerances. That was 2.5 years ago. We still eat pretty darn good even without dairy (though DH and DD1 still eat it), and there's not much that I "miss" that had dairy that I can't make a reasonable facsimile of, except whipped cream. I still can't do that one and haven't bought the $200 whipped cream maker to see if it would work with a non-dairy sub. I don't miss it enough to spend $200!!
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I would invest in a few good vegan cook books. Veganomicon and Vegan With A Vengence are both good and have some hearty, family friendly meals in them.
Soy (or other non-dairy) milk in cereals and coffee is a pretty easy swap. Silk also makes a good coffee creamer. You can directly sub soy milk for baking and cooking, and if your baking requires buttermilk you can sub one cup of soy milk mixed with 1 tsp ACV (let it set about 5 mins, this "curdles" it). Soy yogurt can be used lots of times, too. Swapping out baking is probably a good first step because you're less likely to notice a big difference in taste.
Things like casseroles and risottos are quite easy to veganize (cookbooks above can provide more specific guidence on this).
My best advice is not to try to replace cheese where it is the main star of the dish. You're never going to make vegan mac and cheese or vegan grilled cheese that will fool anyone, and if you are newly dairy-free it will probably just make you gag and eat a brick of cheddar :). There are some okay faux cheeses out there, but if you want to try them on a sandwich or in tacos or something similar, I would wait a few months until your taste buds are a bit de-sensitized. They don't taste like cheese, but they can round out a dish in a similar way. Same thing goes for vegan sour cream. Base your dairy free meals on a hearty vegetable and protein dish that doesn't require cheese, and once you've gotten the hang of that and have gotten used to the soy taste you can branch out a bit more.
Which brings me to my next point. You may be put off by the taste of soy. Don't give up, though. Lots of people take one drink of soy milk or one bite of soy ice cream or yogurt and just hate the taste/after taste. Try different brands. If you try something and don't like it, try again in a week or two. Your body and taste expectations go through a bit of a cleanse. After you're more accustomed to less dairy or no dairy some of the alternatives become more palatable.
Oops. almost forgot. Nutritional yeast is a great sub for parmesan sprinkles. Tr it atop some of the above lasagna recipes.
For parmasean, I take a 1/4 cup each of almonds and nutritional yeast, and about 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds, 1/2 a teaspoon of miso paste and about 1/4 teaspoon of salt, process it in my food processor until it resembles grated cheese and then keep it in a shaker bottle in the fridge.
Go slowly! And experiment with new and tasty food (not necessarily dairy replacements, just interesting stuff for your taste buds). That's the best thing I can tell you.
I agree with what everyone else has said. Earth Balance--check, coconut oil--check, don't expect to find any cheese that tastes like cheese--check.
I've been dairy-free, not dairy-free, mostly dairy-free, on and off for years. The first time I tried it it felt painful and like I had nothing to eat anymore. But recently I went dairy-free again for my nursling (after being very low dairy for years) and this time, it seemed easy. I still miss ice cream (and although I like some of the "fake" ice creams, they don't actually make up for the real thing for me), but in general I found that I had learned to cook without dairy being the main thing and also my palette had shifted. So it may take you awhile to find yourself in the groove with it. Or maybe you can give up almost all of it, but save dairy for the one or two things you all love the most, or just for special occasions (unless your choice is ethical that is).
You might look into Asian recipes/cooking, since they do not traditionally cook with dairy.
Me= crunchy mama to one rambunctious toddler, born on October 1, 2009. And one sweet little baby born January 19, 2012.
I had to go completely dairy free when my two week old infant (now 2 years old) was diagnosed with milk protein intolerance. Since I chose to continue breastfeeding I cut out all dairy and after she was on formula for those miserable 5 days, we started breastfeeding again. I felt so much better without dairy, I loved it. My skin cleared up, bloating and constipation eliminated. When she turned one we started eating a little dairy here and there (raw milk cheese and organic yogurt). But since my husband is a dairy addict, it has gotten the better of us. Now we eat dairy every day and I can see it on my blotchy red face!
When we were completely dairy free we had successfully switched to enriched organic rice milk, we still drink it and don't buy milk. We used to buy soy ice cream, though I know soy is not beneficial, actually harmful, unless it is fermented (and GM soy is hard to avoid since it is pretty much in everything now). I cook with olive and coconut oils. I can't think of anything to substitute my favorite raw milk cheese, nothing would come close. But I lived without cheese for a year and I know I could again! Thanks everyone for all the suggestions!
I have been dairy free for 6 years now, my father is allergic to dairy, as well as my brother. I have a really low tolerance to even "May contain dairy" alternatives, it seems, and the aftereffects are not happy! BFing my son, who is also very sensitive to dairy, can be troublesome when some "may contain" dairy-free stuff ends up in my diet. We both suffer immensly!
Some of my favourite cookbooks are ones that are all asian foods, mostly because there are very little dairy in there, but there is always lots of meat - which is a plus in our house. I want to go meat-free, as well, but my hubby and I are just so.....carnivorous!
An Ayurvedic Cookbook has very many dairy free options, as well, because certain Ayurvedic types shouldn't have dairy! I also enjoy testing out my own subs and figuring out if something will work!
I love the idea of cashew's in water to add creaminess! I never thought of that and that's on my list of things to try out! <3
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