If you are new to managing a dairy allergy, you not only need dairy substitutes for cooking and baking but also for yogurt, ice cream, cheese and other dairy favorites. Are you wondering how you will ever find dairy alternatives that even come close to the real thing? Don't worry! Read on for some of my favorite substitutes.
Many of the dairy substitutes that I use are soy based which, unfortunately, is not helpful to those of you with a soy allergy
AND a dairy allergy
. For substitutes that are soy free, please visit the soy substitutes page
Following are some dairy substitutes that I have found to be useful for cooking, baking and just plain enjoying:
Soy, rice, potato, almond, oat, hemp and coconut milks are all possible substitutes for cow's milk. While the amount of protein in each of these forms of milk varies compared to cow's milk, they are usually fortified with similar amounts of calcium and vitamin D. If you aren't dealing with a soy allergy, soy milk is a good option because it usually has similar amounts of calories, protein, calcium and vitamin D as cow's milk.
Potato milk is available in specialty food stores in powder form. Vance's Foods DariFree Original Powder Gluten-Free Beverage is the brand that I have tried. It works well as a substitute in cooking and baking. Like other milk substitutes, it is fortified with calcium and other nutrients.
Vance's Darifree comes in powdered form which makes it ideal for using as a substitute for sauces and dairy based baking ingredients like evaporated milk because you can control the concentration of it. For more dairy substitutes you can make with Vance's Darifree, read on.
Half and Half
I've used Vance's Darifree as a half and half substitute in many recipes and it works well. Just follow the directions on the canister: 1/3 cup Darifree to 1 cup hot water.
Evaporated milk is just concentrated milk (with about 60% of the water removed). For an easy substitute, use Vance's Foods DariFree Original Powder Gluten-Free Beverage. Rather than mixing it as milk, mix 1/2 c. of the powder with 1 c. of hot water. I used this substitute in this Dairy Free Fudge recipe.
Sweetened Condensed Milk
Sweetened condensed milk is just evaporated milk with sugar added. To make your own dairy free version, make 1 c. of evaporated milk (recipe above) and, over medium heat, dissolve 1-1/2 c. of granulated sugar in the mixture.
When searching for a dairy-free margarine, be sure to examine the product labels carefully (as always). The first "dairy-free" margarine I bought said "dairy-free" on it but, after looking at the label more closely at home, I discovered that it contained a sodium caseinate (a milk derivative). Due to FALCPA labels should list any of the top 8 allergens in a product. However, it is best not to rely on that entirely.
My favorite dairy free margarine is Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread. I've used it in cooking, baking and as a spread and it works well as a butter substitute (and it's trans fat free!) Earth Balance makes several dairy free products and even makes a dairy and soy free margarine. They also make margarine sticks making baking a snap. To find out more about Earth Balance products, visit www.earthbalance.com.
Coconut oil is also an option in place of margarine or shortening. It is solid at room temperature but, like butter and margarine, when heated will melt. I used it in place of the shortening in this wheat free sugar cookies recipe.
If you're missing sour cream and can have soy, you're in luck! Your specialty food store should have a selection of dairy free products including sour cream. The texture is not the same as real sour cream but mixed into a recipe or dolloped onto a hot dish like Chicken Tortilla Soup it fits the bill.
Like sour cream, I thought we would just do without cream cheese but I also discovered soy cream cheese available at the specialty food store. Again, the texture is a little different but, blended with other ingredients, it works just fine. I use it in the filling in this Fruit Pizza recipe and have used it in many different dips and spreads.
Cheese must be pretty difficult to duplicate using dairy free ingredients because I haven't come across one that I love quite as much as the real thing. The good news, however, is that there are some decent options that can be used for cooking (pizza!) and mixed with other foods. You can find reviews of the cheeses I have tried on the Allergy Free Food Finds page.
Ice cream happens to be one of my favorite foods! My son's dairy allergy was a great excuse to purchase an ice cream maker attachment for my stand mixer...and boy, has it come in handy! I have made countless batches of ice cream, sorbet and gelato. Check out the Allergy Free Recipes page to see my dairy AND soy free ice cream and sorbet recipes.
If you aren't into making your own ice cream, you're in luck! You can find many dairy free ice cream options at a specialty food store (and sometimes even at the regular grocery store). These dairy free ice cream options are often soy based but there are also rice "cream" and coconut milk ice cream options. In the column to the right you'll find some of my favorites.
Dairy free frosting is easy to find at the regular grocery store. The one that I currently use is a variety by Pillsbury (the one with the blue lid). Please be sure to check labels, though, because many of the same brand DO contain dairy AND product ingredients change far more often than I update this page! Cherrybrook Kitchen also makes a ready made frosting.
If you can't get to the grocery store, check out the Allergy Free Recipes page for frosting recipes.
If you're a yogurt fan and are not allergic to soy, several different brands of soy based yogurt are available (Silk is one). So Delicious brand coconut yogurt is a great option if you're allergic to soy AND dairy. Try using it as a dip for fruit or buy plain and use it to make a dressing for creamy salads like this Crunchy Apple Coleslaw recipe.
Chocolate chips and baking chocolate
If you only have a dairy allergy and have no issues with nuts, you should be able to find baking chocolate like semi-sweet and bittersweet at the regular grocery store. I have found them but they often contain the advisory statement "may contain nuts".
If nuts are an issue, try Enjoy Life Foods Gluten-Free Chocolate Chips. They are made in a nut free facility, are dairy free and soy free and they work well in cookies, muffins, sauces and frostings. You can use them just like you would semi-sweet chocolate chips and you won't be able to tell the difference!
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