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Friday, April 13, 2018

My Dairy-Free Favourites

Hey everyone! Happy Friday the 13th! Today I decided to write about something a bit different.  

Three years ago I was diagnosed with a dairy allergy.  After months of feeling very ill, I found out I could not eat my beloved favourite foods- cheese and chocolate.  At first I thought it was a lactose intolerance problem (when I was first tested), but confirmed with my doctor and realized it was a complete dairy intolerance.  As difficult as it was, I cut all dairy from my diet and began to feel better almost immediately.  I won't die or even get an adverse reaction if I eat or touch dairy but I do get very very sick.  For me, the feeling I get when I even eat a bit of butter is not worth is, so I've been living a dairy free life for three years.  

Although many other people choose this type of diet for other health, moral or personal reasons, I simply don't want to feel sick!  But, I think going dairy-free is more than a diet- it's a complete lifestyle change.  I did not realize that dairy and milk products are in everything (I'm talking about you Salt and Vinegar chips!).  It takes some getting used to read every food package and find tasty alternatives.  I spent a lot of time reading on the internet, searching brands, and talking to others who don't eat dairy. 

I've rounded up my favourites dairy-alternative products hoping it'll makes someone else's transition to a dairy-free (or just less dairy) lifestyle easier! PLEASE check all ingredients as many of these products contain nuts, coconuts, and soy! This post is also not sponsored in any way! Just trying to help another dairy-free pal out!          

Butter/Margarine 

Since I can't have butter, most people assume I can just have margarine.  BUT-margarine also has milk products! I originally used Earth Balance Soy-Free buttery spread, but recently switch to Becel vegan and find it's much cheaper (and my boyfriend says it tastes better too)!




Cheese

I've tried quite a few cheeses and have found one brand that even my dog likes (you know it's good then)! The cheese slices and shreds from Earth Island are by far my favourite.  They come in lots of flavours, which is great for different meals.  I like to use the shreds for baking (baked pastas, on chicken) and the slices for things like baked potatoes or just as cheese and crackers. I have not tried the cheese bricks as I have not been able to find them in stores (I'd assume they'd taste just as good though!).  Be aware- the cheese does not melt like normal cheese. ALL vegan cheeses do this.  I've found this brand melts the best but it still isn't the same as normal cheese.






Cream Cheese & Sour Cream

At first people don't think of dairy products such as sour cream, but when you want to eat a taco and don't have any sour cream, it can be very unfortunate! There are lots of local brands of sour cream and cream cheese (check your local markets and natural food stores) but they can be very hit and miss.  My go to is the Tofutti sour cream and cream cheese.   I've used the sour cream in dips for parties and no one has been able to tell it's made from non-dairy sour cream or cream cheese!




Salad Dressings

Many salads dressings, like balsamic or Italian (be careful of cheese) are already dairy-free. But, any creamy dressings are definitely not (I'm talking about you- ranch and Caesar)! I don't really like the Daiya cheeses, but their salad dressings are amazing! They come in ranch, Caeser and blue cheese and are great for actual salads or as dipping sauces (blue cheese for wings, ranch for veggies).



Mac n' Cheese

My favourite food is mac n' cheese and this was the biggest upset for me to not be able to eat.  I actually really like two mac n' cheeses- the frozen one from Amy's and the boxed one from Daiya. My favourite is definitely Amy's as it's super quick to make (5 minutes in the microwave) and actually turns out like homemade mac n' cheese!  Tip- I add bacon and sometimes mozzarella cheese slices for a deluxe meal! Amy's has a lot of variety of mac n' cheeses so make sure you get the dairy free one (it's also gluten free!) I also love the Daiya on when I plan to actually cook it.  The cheddar one (normal mac n' cheese) is really good, but I also love the Alfredo style one with the veggies.  The boxes come with a sauce (not powder) so you only need to add that (no milk or butter).




Pizza

I've yet found a pizza alternative that I really enjoy.  I've tried the Daiya and Amy's ones but they just aren't the same as regular pizza.  I do recommend looking at local pizzerias.  I have found quite a few local places that will use soy or vegan cheese (for a small price) on a pizza.  This way I can still enjoy it with sauce and pepperoni! If that's not an option, I ask for a white pizza with oil olive and spices and get roasted red peppers, black olives, and tomatoes.  It's more like a flatbread but still super delicious!       

Cookies & Desserts

I've found the one thing I really miss is desserts.  99% of desserts have milk or butter in them so buying normal treats is near impossible.  You either have to make everything from scratch (which is time consuming and not always feasible). I have found quite a few products which I really enjoy.  EnjoyLife and Sweets From the Earth make unbelievably good desserts and cookies.  EnjoyLife makes chewy cookies, crunchy cookies, and granola bars.  My favourites are the crunchy chocolate chip cookies and the chocolate chewy bars.   



I also love the desserts from Sweets from the Earth.  My favourites are the blueberry cheesecake, s'mores cookie and whoopie pie! But honestly everything is so yummy. I've had most of their products and I've enjoyed them all. 



Ice Cream 

Ice cream is something I could never really eat (it always bothered my stomach). I often just ate ices or sorbets, but lemon ice can get pretty boring.  I've found SoDelicious makes the best ice cream snacks (bars, on a stick) and Ben & Jerry's by far makes the best ice cream.  Their flavours are the same as the original and in my opinion actually taste a lot better than the original dairy ice creams.  My one friend was going vegan for lent and I told her to try them and she LOVED them! Mt favourite flavours are the Cherry Garcia and PB & Cookies. 










Chocolate 

Finally chocolate. It has been a struggle to find dairy free versions of chocolate.  You can always eat dark chocolate (but above like 75%), which for me is not a treat.  I have found a few chocolate bars that are super yummy, but simple.  EnjoyLife makes rice milk chocolate that is quite good for a good old chocolate bar.  Recently my mom found this brand of chocolate bars called MooFree.  They come in regular chocolate, mint, bunnycomb (which is like honeycomb- by the way it's still vegan!), and orange.   I love mint chocolate and orange  chocolate so this find was super exciting for me.  They also make advent calendars and easter eggs! 







I hope this list was helpful for those suffering from a dairy allergy or choosing to go dairy-free for other reasons! Again this list is NOT sponsored. I found it very hard to find things to eat and hope to help ease the transition for someone else.  Comment with your favourite dairy-free products and let me know if you'd like me to do a post of regular  foods that are surprisingly dairy-free and vegan!

Happy Friday! 


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