Going Dairy Free

Today's post is a little bit different. It is something I have been meaning to do for a while, and finally have got round to it after a request from some friends. I have been dairy free for over a year now, due to food intolerances. I have never actually been tested, but at the suggestion of my GP to cut it out of my diet, I almost instantly stopped all unpleasant symptoms I had been suffering from. My mother is also allergic to dairy, and turns out that it is a hereditary condition. Since working out that I have it too, my younger brother began experiencing the same unpleasant symptoms after eating dairy products, and so joined my mother and I on our dairy free diets. The biggest question I get asked is
'What do you eat?!'
Well the answer is, most things actually. Once you understand what you can and can't eat, it is very easy to eat an interesting and varied diet. Today I thought I'd share with you some of the tips I've picked up along the way.

Firstly though, I'd like to clear a few things up:
1.) I am not a vegan. I eat eggs and meat, not that I have anything against vegans obviously, I just get asked this a lot. 
2.) Dairy comes from a cow. You would not believe the amount of times I have had to clear this out. This includes cheese, milk, butter, and cream. Not eggs, they come from chickens. You'd think this would be obvious, but apparently not.
3.) No, I don't eat chocolate or ice cream, and yes I do survive! There are many dairy free alternatives out there, and when you only eat these occasionally, you enjoy them all the more!

The Necessities
These are the food products you will need to successfully make the switch. For milk, I use Alpro Soya and Almond milk. I think Alpro tastes nicer than other alternative brands, and is available in most supermarkets. I use soya milk in tea/coffee (it whips up nicely for making lattes!) and when making porridge, and almond milk for all other milk uses. I actually quite like drinking almond milk by itself, it has a fresh and nutty taste. Alpro soya cream is great with strawberries, or with cooking (perfect for buttercream icing), and Oatly cream is perfect for savoury cooking and for thickening soups and sauces, Pure comes in soya, olive and sunflower alternatives, and although doesn't really taste of much, works well on toast and in sandwiches, and for baking too.
 The Luxuries. 
Blue Diamond Almond Breeze is where I go to get my chocolate fix! This chocolate flavour almond milk is absolutely delicious, and I get through tonnes of the stuff. You can find this in Waitrose and health food shops. I realise Asda own brand isn't exactly a luxury, but these yoghurts are really nice! Provamel and Alpro both do quite nice soya fruit yoghurts. When it comes to cheese, I am quite lucky as I can eat Sheep's cheese in small quantities, which I get from Sainsbury's. There are cheese alternatives, but I find them a bit gross. The main brands there are Cheezly, Sheese and Tofutti, I tend to go for the first two as I don't really like tofu. They have lots of varieties but I personally find the taste a bit too weird, but they aren't too bad when melted on a pizza. You can find these in heath food shops too.
 Eating in - The Bible
My mother was introduced to this book when a friend gave it to her, and since then she has given me a copy too. It is absolutely amazing and so useful too, packed full of delicious recipies that are so easy to make, and even tells you where you can buy the dairy free alternatives mentioned. Every recipe included is dairy and gluten free. Well done, Pippa Kendrick, you are a lifesaver!
Going Out
Eating out is where things can get a bit tricky. Not everyone understands what dairy free actually is, so it is always important to tell the restaurant that you cannot eat milk, cheese, cream, butter etc, as in my experience, they will still try and send out food covered in butter. I love eating Japanese and Chinese food which traditionally contain little or no dairy, though it is always important to check. Thai food is also a good one, as it often contains coconut milk instead of cow's. Bubble Tea is a favourite of mine for a sweet treat, as it is normally made with soy milk, as dairy does not feature heavily in Taiwanese recipes. For fast food, McDonalds are good as the nutrition sheets found on the trays in the restaurants, and their website contains all their allergens, and I can quite happily go in to eat hamburgers and an apple pie and be confident they won't make me ill. KFC however is a big no-no, the delicious gravy and that secret chicken batter recipe is chocked full of milk, cream and butter. Curries from a takeaway are usually full of ghee, which is clarified butter, and so full of dairy. Potatoes, whether boiled or roasted often have butter on in restaurants so always check that one. Many people think Gelato is okay to eat, but in fact it just has more water in than regular ice cream, but is still made with a hefty quantity of milk. Bread will always be buttered, so check that one! Many restaurants though are now beginning to realise that food allergies are very common, and so stock alternatives such as the one above. I am a regular customer at Starbucks, as most drinks can be made with soy, and taste delicious when they do, my favourites being an Almond Soy Latte, or a Soy Strawberries & Cream frappuccino (no cream involved!). My advice to you when eating out is to always ask, as 9 times out of 10, places are happy to help out!
A Word of Warning..
Dairy creeps in to SO many supermarket foods, you will be surprised when you actually start reading ingredients labels. Even some breads now contain dairy, as so many food products have things such as cream powder and buttermilk added to make them that bit richer and tastier. Whey is a dairy product, so always keep an eye out for that one too!

I hope this post has been helpful if you are thinking about going dairy free. I would like to point out though that I am in no way a professional so if you do have any queries please go and speak to a doctor. Going dairy free may not work for you, and I do have to be careful about making sure I get everything I need, calcium being one of the big ones (loads of vitamins for me!), and I eat a lot of eggs to make up for any lost protein. Having said that, making the switch has worked so well for me, and I feel a thousand times better for doing it! If you are dairy free, I'd love to hear from you and add any tips you may have to the list! Also, please let me know if you have any questions, feel free to email me on carriebakescakes@gmail.com

Labels: , , ,