Going dairy free? It’s not easy at first… whilst there’s plenty of alternatives to pick from, it’s taken me heaps of time & money to decipher between the good and the bad.
Hopefully this guide will make your journey to tasty cheese on toast a little easier than mine!!
Before we get started
Lactose free vs dairy free: Here’s my basic explanation of the difference:
- What is dairy? It’s a type of food group made from the milk of mammals. What is lactose? Its a type of sugar found only in dairy.
- A Lactose free product just means this specific sugar has been removed… it’s still a dairy product! As a result, they’re NOT suitable for anyone with a milk allergy, a dairy-free diet or for vegans.
- A dairy free product is made from either plants or nuts and never contained dairy/lactose to start with. It is therefore suitable for a lactose or dairy free diet
There’s tons of reading online if you want to know more.
Dairy Free Tip 1: Yoghurt
Choosing the best replacement depends on what type of yoghurt you’re after. Here’s a guide:
- Regular yoghurts – go for soya based. I usually buy supermarket own brands (Asdas strawberry soya is my favourite) but I sometimes pick Alpro (natural/fruity) for a thicker, more indulgent option.
- Greek style – go for Alpro Greek Style, either big tubs of plain or small pots that have a fruit compote on the bottom.
- Coconut based – I love Koko as its creamy and coconutty but not overpowering. If you have a sensitive stomach, I would avoid Coyo or Rebel Kitchen – both with a very high coconut content.
- Posh ones – my fav is the nut-based yoghurt, Nush (you can even get it squeezy tubes like Frubes). Won’t taste like any “regular” yog you’ve tried before and they’re £££££ but a good treat and very yummy!
Dairy Free Tip 2: Ice Cream
Well, I have two whole blog pieces on this. F
- “Ice Cream: Coeliac, Dairy Free Guide” here! Your guide to sprinkles, cones, sauces and a comprehensive list of coeliac safe ice creams you can probably buy from the corner shop 🙂
- “I scream, you scream, we all scream for gf/df ice cream!!!” – My top picks for coeliac safe AND dairy free ice creams… whats my fav magnum style ice cream? Or solero? Or tub?
If I had to pick one, I would be a tub of Booja Booja Caramel Pecan Praline – drooling as I type haha.
Dairy Free Tip 3: Milk
My opinion: embrace the different tastes and try not to find a substitute for regular milk, because (a) there isn’t really anything that tastes the same anyway and (b) all the alternatives are delish in their own right).
Here’s how I use all the different types, ranked from the one I use most to least:
- Almond – the one we always have in the cupboard. Good for cereal and baking as it does’t have an overpowering taste, unlike coconut.
- Coconut – the one for hot chocolate (think melted Bounty). Also good for tropical bakes, e.g a pineapple cake.
- Tiger Nut – the one with the sweet, nutty taste. Love it warm milk, with a pinch cinnamon.
- Rice – the sweetest of them all. Tastes like cereal milk. Great for baking sweet things like doughnuts.
- Soya – the one for tea, cappuccinos etc – it doesn’t curdle and doesn’t have a distinct taste when in a hot drink. Personally, I don’t like the taste of soya milk on its own and I don’t really drink coffee so its not a popular milk for me.
- Oat – the one for creamy coffees. I can’t tolerate oats so I’ve never tried this, but I’m told it makes for a very creamy coffee and its amazing in a latte! Be careful though, not all oat milks are gf!!
Brands – don’t be put off if you try one brand and don’t like it. Milks vary massively from brand to brand, for example Rude Health almond milk tastes like marzipan vs Alpros much more subtle almond-y taste and much thicker consistency.
My fav brand is Rude Health – Mainly because of taste, but also because it doesn’t contain any gums or additives etc – it’s basically just nuts and water.
**SIDE NOTE IF YOURE COELIAC** Coffee Shops – first question you ask the barrista, regardless of what type of milk you want: “do you use oat milk here? Is it gluten free?” If not, there’s a contamination risk with the milk frother!!! They need to properly clean down the machine before they make your drink.
Dairy Free Tip 4: Cheese
For Melting – pre-grated seems to melt best. My fav is Asda’s own Mozzarella or second choice is Violife cheddar style. If you’re melting in the oven, you might want to finish in the grill for the best melt!
Parmesan – Violife block of hard cheese is most popular
Cream Cheese – its expensive but you don’t get better that Nush Cream Cheese style spread. You can get cheaper, supermarket own versions too… they’re good but not quite as creamy.
Independents / Special Cheese! – best around are Tyne Chease (gluten free too) and I Am Nut Ok (NOTE: this is now made in a factory that handles gluten so not suitable for coeliacs)
Dairy Free Tip 5: Chocolate
Ok, I could write pages on this…but the short version…
LOOKING FOR A BAR OF PLAIN CHOCOLATE?
- “Dairy-free” chocolate – to me, the majority taste more watery & powdery than the likes of Galaxy so I generally steer clear… two exceptions to the rule are NOMO and Rhythm 108 which are so good it can almost pass for “normal chocolate”.
- Dark chocolate – often will be milk free anyway so its a fab option. Double check though – this isn’t a rule for all of them!
- Premium, “raw style” chocolate – my new, naturally dairy free addiction. Massive selection in places like Wholefoods, Planet Organic and health shops – they all have whole aisles dedicated to the stuff! Again, not all gluten & dairy free so do check!! Ombar & Pana are my favs.
LOOKING FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT?
- Vego hazelnut bars – basically a bar of vegan ferrero rocher and absolute heaven
- Rythm 108 truffle eggs – avaliable around Easter and gives you the truffle like texture of lindt, enjoy!
- Booja Booja truffles – very rich, indulgent and oh so delish!! Pricey but worth it for a treat. Store in the fridge.
- Asda truffle selection box – enough said!!
Dairy Free Tip 6: Butter
There’s 3 types of things I use in place of “butter”:
(1) TUBS OF SPREAD:
- Popular brands: Flora Dairy Free, Vitalite & Pure.
- What I use it for: cakes, buttercream, on toast (NOT biscuits – see the next section for that)
- You’ll barely notice the difference between a “dairy free spread” and a regular one as main ingredient in both is oil anyway (in actual fact, lots of regular spreads actually haven’t got any milk, but they are a ‘may contain’).
- Flora Dairy Free is my fav, especially for buttercream. Slightly more expensive than the other 2 popular options but the cheaper brands aren’t as creamy.
(2) HARD MARGARINE aka Blocks of Spread/Shortening – wrapped in paper
- Popular brands: Stork , Trex
- What I use them for:
- Stork is my go to for biscuits & cookies. Would never use spread for this.
- I use a 50/50 mix of Stork/Trex for pastry
- On a hot day, I add Trex to my buttercream: I usually just stick to Flora Dairy Free but if its mega hot outside, I use half spread, half Trex as it is more stable in the heat. You’ll need to whisk it more to get rid of the waxy taste.
- If you’re using Trex in place of “butter” in anything else, you’ll need to adjust the amount you use (it has no water so you’ll need to use less. They have a handy “Butter to Trex” converter on their website.
(3) LARD – you can still buy the regular brands and use as you used to!
- Nutritional yeast – Engevita Yeast flakes. Don’t smell it (its vile), but use it in your mac & cheese for the ultimate cheesy taste (and loads of additional nutritional benefits). You can get it in most supermarkets / Holland & Barrett.
- Whipped spray cream – Food Heaven (in the fridges at Asda)
- Cream – either Alpro Soya Single Cream or coconut cream depending on the taste I’m after. Alpro is good for carbonara. Will also whip when chilled. There’s a new dairy free double cream on the market too – made by Elmlea.
- Nutella – you can get a dairy free equivalent, called Hazelnut & Cocoa Spread by Natures Store in the free from aisle
- Custard – long life Alpro Custard, found in the free from aisle
Side Note: Places you might not expect to find dairy
Here’s some places that have caught me out before…
- Sweeteners – Canderel tablets contain lactose, the big jars of powder do not (only a tiny tiny amount but worth noting for the extra sensitive!)
- IBS tablets – for example Boots own (tiny amount too)
- Crisps – anything with flavouring could contain milk
- Hot chocolate powder – might have milk powder in it. Generally the “low fat” or “low kcal” options contain milk and the full fat ones do not. The regular Cadbury powder is safe.
If you have any more, let me know!
Hope this was useful,