Cow’s milk is nature’s perfect food – for calves. Although you might see advertisements claiming the contrary, there are tons of reasons to ditch the dairy for good. When it comes to your health, a regular intake of milk and cheese can lead to a host of problems such as elevated cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even a predominate risk of developing cancers.
Dairy also harbors a nasty collection of contaminants, like hormones and pesticides, which get absorbed right into the body when digested. These contaminants don’t readily leave the body, so they tend to build up to dangerous levels which then contribute to the health conditions so many people experience as a result of regular milk and cheese consumption.
Not to mention, there is the death and destruction that is so closely associated with dairy farms. But you don’t have to succumb to health problems or be part of the atrocities of factory farming methods. Luckily, you can enjoy rich and flavorful foods without all the dangers of dairy thanks to these tips and tricks:
Nuts and Seeds
Blending nuts and seeds with a little water and sweetener is an easy way to create your own healthy milk alternatives at home. Simply put a cup of your favorite nut or seed, two cups of water, and a couple of dates or a drop of your favorite sweetener into a blender. Try almond milk as one of the most popular choices that you can easily make inside your home.
Combine the mixture on high speed until nice and smooth, and strain the resulting milk through a nut-milk bag or a fine mesh strainer. Some nuts and seeds that will tickle your taste buds include:
- Brazil Nuts
- Sesame Seeds
- Macadamia Nuts
- Sunflower Seeds
Experiment and use a combination of nuts and seeds to create your own unique flavor profile that meets your milk needs. You can also make your own cheeses with the help of nuts and seeds – try a shreddable and meltable vegan cheddar cheese, or go for creamy and smooth cheese to spread on crackers or add to casseroles. Try our vegan Parmesan as one of the most popular and easiest choices out there.
Consider Healthy Oils
Some people enjoy using oils, while some don’t. There is also some controversy around oils in a healthy diet, so make sure to choose the best option for you. For those that don’t tolerate nuts and seeds well, you may be able to use their oils or vegetable and fruit oils to get some healthy fats in your diet. Just watch the amounts since most oils contain 120 calories in just a tablespoon.
If you enjoy and tolerate oils, you can use them to incorporate richness and extra depth into your meals. For example, vegetable and fruit oils can be implemented in a number of ways to create delicious meals and snacks without missing any of the dangerous dairy. Try a few of these options next time you’re in the mood for dairy:
- Blend oil with fresh garlic to create “butter” for sautéing vegetables, fluffing mashed potatoes, or spreading on breadsticks.
- Replace butter with oil in baked goods.
- Soak fresh herbs in your favorite oil to create a flavored topping for pizza, sandwiches, and wraps that cheese might otherwise be found in.
It’s important to remember that not all oils are created equally. Some oils such as canola are typically genetically modified and don’t offer any real health benefits upon use. However, plenty of oils are health promoting: consider cold-pressed versions of coconut, olive, flax, and even hemp oils.
It is easy to create rich flavor without any dairy by using fatty produce such as avocados and coconuts. Use a fork to mash up an avocado, and you have the perfect replacement for butter or cheese on sandwiches. Add an avocado to blended soups or creamy pasta dishes in place of the dairy. Use coconut meat (or milk) to create delicious dairy-free salad dressings and desserts. Freeze your coconut meat (or use coconut milk) and some bananas to make ice-cream, or create a flavorful Thai coconut dish to enjoy with friends and family. The options are limitless!
Of course, there are a myriad of store-bought options available on the market to satisfy your milk and cheese cravings without contributing to factory farming or worrying about the risk of developing health problems. Daiya offers up a bounty of meltable shredded cheeses and wheels to enjoy, and Field Roast just introduced cheese slices that are sure to change the way people feel about vegan cheeses (for the better). You can find a host of milk options at the store too – rice, almond, and soy are just a few examples.
You see? There really is no reason to keep cow’s milk or dairy cheese in the fridge anymore, but if you need some help, see all of our Ditch Dairy articles to help you out. Alternative options are delicious, cruelty free, and a lot healthier for you than the stuff you probably grew up on.
Lead Image Source: Liz West/Flickr