As we become a more health-conscious society, we realize that animal-based products just aren’t that good for us – including dairy. Many people cannot digest dairy effectively and according to PCRM, dairy can increase risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Whether you can digest dairy or not, perhaps it’s time to consider ditching dairy to improve your health. Here are a few tips to make the transition easier – we promise you won’t miss dairy!
Test out Alternatives
Perhaps the most difficult part of ditching dairy is finding suitable alternatives, particularly if you are fond of a particular type of dairy, like cheese or cream in your coffee. Most dairy alternatives are not a one-sized-fits-all solution; for example, almond milk may make a perfect milk alternative for drinking or cereal, but you may not like it in your coffee.
Start with Milk Replacements
Back in the day, the only option for milk replacement was soy. Today’s health-conscious individuals generally try to avoid soy products. Fortunately, there are a ton of alternatives: almond, hemp, flax, coconut, etc. Within these categories, you can find flavored, unflavored, sweetened and unsweetened, as well as varieties for milk, cream and more. There are so many choices available, so you will likely want to narrow it down to a few, locally-available options. Check out Go Dairy Free for some great reviews to get started.
How about Cheese?
You can make an awesome ricotta/cottage/cream cheese by soaking 1 cup of your favorite skinless nut (almonds and cashews are great) overnight, then draining and running through a food processor with some salt, 3 tbsp. water, 2 tbsp. olive oil, and 4 tbsp. of lemon juice until you reach the desired consistency. You can even bake this cheese, spread thinly over some parchment paper at a low temperature for 30 minutes for a parmesan-type texture. Create different flavors of cheese by adding in dates, figs, mint, rosemary, parsley, garlic, etc. Another favorite of vegans is nutritional yeast – deactivated dry yeast that has a similar flavor to parmesan. It’s a great option for topping pastas, salads or even a dairy-free pizza.
Other Dairy-Free Options
Butter is easily replaced with soy-free and dairy-free spreads. Or just keep it simple and opt for coconut oil – it gives amazing flavor to your baking and cooking. And add creaminess to dishes with coconut milk, almond milk or even avocado. Coconut milk and almond milk yogurts are great alternatives to dairy yogurt; you can even make your own with a crock pot/low temperature oven and yogurt culture. And don’t worry about missing out on treats like whipped cream - you can make a much healthier version using almond or coconut milk. Here’s a simple recipe for coconut whipped cream. Ready to take the plunge? If you really, really love dairy, try to cut out one dairy product at a time, or combine going dairy-free with Meatless Mondays. After a few weeks, you’ll be ready to move on to a healthier, dairy-free lifestyle. Photo: Amazing Almonds