10+ Dairy-Allergy Safe Products that Actually Taste Good
When my infant was diagnosed with an anaphylactic milk allergy our entire food world was turned upside down. We did baby-led weaning, she was eating what we were eating. I was also breastfeeding which meant, in essence, I now had a milk allergy and my diet was about to significantly change.
When people hear milk allergy they think of lactose intolerance; many do not consider that we cannot have butter, cheese, yogurt, or anything containing a milk product. I’ve tried to start saying dairy allergy in hopes that it will better convey what we can and cannot have.
Milk, or a milk-derived product, is in almost everything. Luckily, we live in a time in life where plant-based products are widely available and taste better than ever! Here are some of the best plant-based and/or dairy-free products I’ve found.
Finding a milk substitute was easy and something we already had in our fridge. We regularly drink almond or oat milk and use it in our cooking. It is rare to find actual ‘cow’s milk’ in our fridge. We drink Almond Breeze Reduced Sugar Vanilla and cook with Oatly Original or Kirkland Oat Milk from Costco.
Butter: My husband picked up a tub of Country Crock plant-based butter because he “recognized the brand.” It is delicious. It tastes like butter and is great on toast and vegetables. It is the only “butter” we use now and both my dairy-eating husband and son like the taste and texture. (We use olive oil for a lot of our cooking.) For recipes that call for “sticks of butter” we’ve found Miyoko’s Creamery to be a great substitute.
Cheese: This has been the biggest challenge and the food I miss most. Daiya cheddar-style shreds is the best option I’ve found. It has a texture that is odd to the touch, but it does melt and the flavor works. I tried some mozzarella shreds when we did homemade pizza. I cannot recommend it. Perhaps it was the brand, but the “cheese” was gummy when it melted and I just pulled it off and ate a cheese-less pizza. Last week I spent far too long staring at a bottle of “liquid mozzarella substitute” before I decided it wasn’t worth it. One thing that is worth it is Kite Hill queso. I was surprised at how good this “queso-like product” is.
Bread: Bread is one of those products that people don’t often think of when they think of dairy. Most commercially sold bread does contain some milk product. Enter Dave’s Killer Bread. Dave’s is typically vegan and does not contain milk or milk products.
Dave’s Killer Bread also has bagels and English Muffins. Can you really have a bagel without cream cheese? I’ve tried several brands of cream cheese and my favorite has been Kite Hill. Kite Hill offers several different flavors and the product is smooth and spreadable. The flavor and texture was closest to “real” cream cheese.
Both of my kids like Trader Joe’s cinnamon rolls, Abe’s Vegan muffins, and the Veggies Made Great muffins. Cheerios are a childhood staple and are always a great dairy-free option. We also make our own pancake mix and use the almond milk and butter mentioned above. For yogurt So Delicious, Kite Hill, and Oatly have been the winners in our house.
Coffee & Creamer: We’ve been using plant-based coffee creamer for a while and my absolute favorite is Trader Joe’s Brown Sugar Oat creamer. All of the major brands make a plant-based creamer. I prefer the oat-based ones as they are creamier. I was also introduced to some canned coffees from Rise and Pop & Bottle. The Rise Oat Milk Mocha is amazing!
Lunch and Dinner
I didn’t realize how much of what I normally consumed contained dairy. Eating out at restaurants or in the cafeteria at work has been the most challenging part of this diet change.
Luckily I live in south Louisiana and things like Jambalaya, Gumbo and Red Beans and Rice are dairy free. We stick to cooking proteins and vegetables at home and use either olive oil or plant-based butter. For sides, Annie’s Vegan Mac & Cheese is a good boxed alternative. I’ve also enjoyed the Kite Hill tortellini.
Cookies, Cakes, Ice Cream: When you can’t have dairy you miss out on a lot of snacks. But we live in the 21st century and non-dairy options are everywhere! Oreos are dairy free, and that creme is not cream! Duncan Hine’s brownie mix is also non-dairy. Surprisingly, there are several non-dairy “ice cream” options that are delicious. Ben & Jerry’s sells many of their iconic flavors as a dairy-free option. Oatly and So Delicious also have a “frozen non-dairy dessert.”
Bars: I like to snack on granola bars or protein bars in the afternoon (breastfeeding keeps you hungry!) Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars or Kind Bars (made with dark chocolate) are dairy free. I’ve found a protein bar called “No Cow” that is made with a plant-based protein.
Now that you’re armed with a list of products where do you go to find them? Surprisingly many of these plant-based products are available everywhere. I’ve gotten most items from Rouses and Target. I used the Target app and searched “dairy-free” to find things I didn’t know existed. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are other places to find a great selection of dairy-free, plant-based, or vegan options. As I often say to others, if there was ever a time to have to be dairy free now is it. There are SO many options out there some are good, some are not so good, but some are great!