Many people suffer from lactose intolerance, which means that they can’t digest lactose which is a sugar that is found in milk and dairy products. Symptoms can range from feeling bloated and uncomfortable through to fairly serious conditions. It is important for anyone who suffers from this troublesome condition to avoid, or at least cut down on, dairy products. Here is some important information on dairy free alternatives.
If you are a regular milk drinker, or if you simply add it to cereals, beverages and sauces, being lactose intolerant doesn’t mean that you need to eliminate it from your diet. There are many excellent lactose free milk substitutes:
This is based on cows’ milk which has been treated to remove half of its lactose, and then an enzyme has been added that breaks down the rest of the lactose into products the body can absorb. Essentially is has all the benefits and taste of normal milk but without the lactose.
Soy milk is made from soybeans which are ground with water. Nutritionally it’s very similar to normal milk in terms of its protein content and it is lower in saturated fat.
This is made from ground almonds and has a slightly nutty flavour. It has less protein than regular cow’s milk, but is rich in many nutrients and vitamins. As well as being lactose free, it is also cholesterol free.
Made mainly from brown rice this contains more carbohydrates than regular cow’s milk but does not contain calcium, however commercial brands are generally fortified with calcium, iron and vitamins B3 and B12.
Other grain milks
As well as rice milk, similar grain milks include oats, rye spelt, wheat, hemp, and quinoa. They are very similar nutritionally to rice milk with commercial varieties being fortified.
Cream is essentially milk with a high concentration of butterfat. In fact creams are available that are based on all the milks listed above. Many people simply convert the milk into cream for instance by simply adding sugar and whipping. However there is also a good selection of non-dairy creams you can buy:
This is made using a similar process to Lactofree milk. It is simply ordinary dream without the lactose and can be used for pouring and cooking.
Soy cream, almond cream, coconut cream
These are all available under many different brand names, and each has its own distinctive flavour.
Butter and margarine
There are several lactose free butter substitutes that you can spread on your bread, bake with and use in your recipes. Here are some to try:
Lactofree butter is made using cow’s milk that has been treated by filtration and enzymes to remove the lactose. Taste wise and nutritionally wise it is very similar to real butter.
Made from soy, this is an excellent lactose free butter substitute.
Coconut oil and coconut butter
These are both great alternatives to dairy butter and they are said to be very beneficial to health; however tasting of coconut they don’t have the same kind of flavour as butter.
If you are a cheese lover then you will be pleased to learn that there are many lactose free cheese substitutes and many of them taste very much like the specific cheeses that they substitute for. Here are some to try:
This uses soy milk and is used to make a variety of different cheeses. These include cheddar, mozzarella and provolone.
Rice cheese, almond cheese, hemp cheese
These cheeses are all made from the milks that are derived from the various grains, and their individual flavours make them more suitable for certain cheese types than others; you might find them surprisingly tasty.
Lactofree cheese is made using cow’s milk that has been specially treated to remove the lactose. It is available as a semi-hard cheese, a soft white cheese and as mature cheddar cheese. You can eat it or cook using it like any regular cheese.
Yogurt is an excellent low calorie dessert. Some people who are lactose intolerant are still able to eat a little yogurt without too many problems. This is because yoghurt is made by a fermentation process that converts lactose in milk to lactic acid. Alternatives to yoghurt include:
This is made using cow’s milk that has been specially treated to remove lactose but leaving everything else intact. Nutritionally it is identical to milk and is available in the same range of fruity flavours.
Soy milk, almond, coconut milk yoghurts
These are all available, and although they have similar textures and flavours to dairy yoghurts, they are not really yoghurts as they have not gone through the same fermentation process, but regardless they still taste good and are nutritional.
If you love ice cream then it will be one of the last things you want to give up, but there is no need to. Here are some excellent dairy free alternatives:
Although sorbet isn’t really ice cream, it is still a good ice cream substitute. It is made from water, sugar or sugar substitutes, and fruit juices or purée. Often wine or liqueurs are also added.
This is made using rice milk and is available in all the same flavours as regular ice-cream. There is also a wide range of other frozen desserts made from various grain milks.
Soy ice cream
There are many different varieties of soy ice cream, and they are just as creamy tasting as dairy ice cream.
Coconut ice cream
As long as you like the taste of coconut, this ice cream is also very tasty with a very similar texture to the real stuff.