Dairy Substitutes for Vegan Diet and Casein Free Diet
What are your options for dairy products if you have decided to adopt a vegan diet, or if your doctor has recommended you avoid dairy foods such as eggs, milk and cheese? Whereas ten years ago, this may have meant doing without, luckily we now have numerous choices. There are also countless books and internet resources to guide us.
I had recently explored vegetarian and vegan cooking. I was mainly looking to decrease animal protein in my diet, and avoid combining animal protein with starchy foods. My naturopath was in favor of this change. Decreasing my meat protein could be accomplished with vegetarian meals. I did not necessarily need to avoid eggs, milk or cheese. Subsequently however, my light and color therapist suggested I avoid milk and cheese. Yikes! I’m not a milk drinker, but to avoid milk in cooking would be challenging. And give up cheese? Who doesn’t like cheese?!
The first think I did was visit CassidyS’s hubs. She writes gluten and casein free recipes. I became a follower because as a pediatric occupational therapist, I have an interest in autism, and many families of autistic children have adopted the gluten free-casein free diet. Armed with CassidyS’s hubs on cream of chicken soup substitute, ranch dressing, and Fettuccine Alfredo, I made a shopping list.
I have also found some good tips in Donna Gates’ The Body Ecology Diet, Renee Loux Underkoffler’s Living Cuisine, and Joanne Saltzman’s Romancing the Bean.
Strawberry Shake with Almond Milk
There are multiple options available for milk substitutes, many of them at large grocery chains, and a sizeable selection available at health food stores. My nearest military commissary has soy milk. Costco has rice milk. Sun Harvest has both of these, as well as hemp milk and almond milk. Sun Harvest has plain, vanilla, and chocolate available in several of the milk substitute options.
As I said, I’m not a milk drinker, so I can’t speak for their drinkability. I avoid the soy milk, as there are mixed reviews on the benefits of soy, particularly for those of us with thyroid disease.
I have used rice milk and almond milk for cooking. My biggest complaint is that there is no evaporated milk option. So for some recipes where I would ordinarily use evaporated milk, the milk substitutes are obviously thin. I have made milk gravy, tomato gravy, and salmon stew with almond or rice milk. I used coconut milk once for salmon stew, but it was too sweet, even diluted half and half with another substitute.
You can make your own nut milks by blending nuts with water. Saltzman recommends ¼ cup of nuts with 2 cups of water for thin milk. Underkoffler recommends 1 cup of soaked almonds with 4 cups filtered water and a pinch of sea salt. Underkoffler also has a recipe for cantaloupe milk, made with the seeds and flesh of the cantaloupe.
CassidyS uses SO Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer in her Alfredo. I was able to find this at Sun Harvest.
Nut Cheese Substitute
CassidyS uses Tofuitti cream cheese and Tofuitti Mozzarella cheese slices in her Alfredo sauce. I was able to find both of these at Sun Harvest. I also found Mozzarella and Cheddar cheese substitutes as block cheeses. Turns out the Almond "Cheddar" Cheese has milk casein. CassidyS uses Tofuitti American cheese slices in her Mac-n-cheese.
Underkoffler has seven nut and seed cheese recipes in her book. The various cheeses are made from walnuts, pine nuts, cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Some of the cheeses are made from a single nut or seed, and some in combinations, through a fermentation process with miso or Rejuvelac.
I have made kefir with The Body Ecology Diet culture starter and almond milk. A fine curd forms on the top, like a soft cottage cheese, suitable for spreads or dressings.
CassidyS prefers Smart Balance Light, with Flax Oil, butter substitute for her cream of chicken soup substitute. I was unable to find this, and bought Earth Balance, which is made from a blend of oils and soy.
Soft tofu is often used as a scrambled egg substitute, and in fritattas and egg salad. Ener-G is a commercially available egg substitute for egg dishes and in recipes. Tofu can be used in some recipes.
Bananas or applesauce can be substituted for eggs for baked goods. Nutritional yeast and milled flax are used in recipes such as vegan meatloaf, as a binder.
Donna Gates has an egg-free mayonnaise recipe, made with almonds and flax oil or pumpkin seed oil. CassidyS prefers Follow Your Heart Vegenaise for her ranch dressing. I found two varieties at Sun Harvest.