Going Dairy-Free

October 07, 2014

Posted By: Shaunescy


Cutting back on dairy (or taking it out of your diet altogether) sounds pretty daunting to most people. Cheese, milk, butter...these items are a ubiquitous part of the average American’s diet. Fortunately, the idea of giving up dairy is much worse than the reality; and I have experienced this myself.

Eliminating or reducing your dairy intake can often make losing weight easier, joints less swollen and colds and minor illnesses less frequent. Dairy products contain saturated fat, something people are told to avoid if they are trying to lower their cholesterol.

Dairy products are also mucus producing, and I found when I took my son off dairy last winter he had far fewer runny noses and colds. (My pediatrician wasn’t convinced it was the dairy, but she was fine with my experiment). I personally stopped eating dairy a couple of years ago because I realized I felt better without it.

There are many reasons to cut back on your dairy intake, and I promise you can still enjoy really delicious meals without it.

Often when people crave dairy, they are actually craving fat and protein, which are necessities in our diet. So instead of adding cheese to a salad, I add walnuts or pecans that I warm in a bit of coconut oil.

There are many meals and snacks that are naturally dairy-free and I focus on those. Stir- fried veggies with tofu or tempeh over rice, is one of my favorites. Salads with avocado and eggs, tortilla chips and guacamole, hummus and crackers... the list is endless.

But every now and then, I want something creamy and rich. I love pesto, which is usually made with Parmesan cheese. I have a delicious, dairy-free pesto recipe that I make with cashew cream. If you don’t have any nut allergies in your family I highly recommend whipping some up once in awhile. Just blend raw cashews with a little water until they reach a creamy consistency. Then add to recipes you might add cheese to, like creamy salad dressings, sauces, a spread on sandwiches, etc.

Here is a simple, delicious dairy-free recipe for pesto:

» 1 cup fresh basil

» 2 tablespoons cashew cream

» 3 tablespoons olive oil

» The juice of half a lemon

» 1⁄2 teaspoon salt

Mix all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. (If it’s too thick, add a tablespoon of water at a time until you reach the desired consistency.)

After the pesto is blended, pour it over pasta and toss with fresh veggies. I also like to add a little lemon zest for garnish. It’s fresh, creamy and every bit as good as traditional pesto.

There are a ton of dairy free milks and butters out there, some better than others. My kids like soy milk, but I prefer rice or almond milk. We use various dairy free milks in cereals and smoothies. Earth Balance dairy free butters are wonderful. They do not contain trans fats and they have several blends to choose from; soy butter, coconut butter and a soy free butter made from several oils like flax, safflower and olive. You can use Earth Balance butter as a substitute for traditional butter when cooking or baking without anyone even realizing it.

It just takes a little extra effort at first to tweak recipes or embrace new dishes, but a dairy free diet is completely doable, even in a family full of picky eaters.


Adrienne has a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition and does meal planning and cooking for people who want (or need) to change their diets. She is also a mom to three children who are brutally honest about her experiments in the kitchen.

To contact Adrienne email: adrienne@mtparent.com .

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