Ditching dairy may seem overwhelming. There are so many dairy products – milk, butter, cheese, cream, sour cream, yogurt, and ice cream just to name a few. It can seem like too many foods to try and replace. However, we cannot deny that the dairy industry is one of the cruelest, that dairy is not healthy for us and all the other 10 Great Reasons to Ditch Dairy.
The good news is that it is so easy to replace dairy in our recipes. There are more dairy-free products on the market than ever and they are really, really good. The good news is that some super-creative people have figured out how to substitute for dairy using a whole bunch of different ingredients that are healthier and kinder. Take a look at these 10 ingredients that can help you hack dairy out of every dish.
Nuts are probably the most common ingredients used to replace dairy. They’re healthy, packed with protein and omega-3s. You probably already know about using almonds to replace dairy. It’s easy to learn How to Make Almond Milk, How to Milk an Almond, make Spreadable Almond Cheese 3 Ways, and Raw Almond Parmesan.
Dairy products can also be replaced by other nuts such as pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts and of course, cashews. Try making this Maple Pecan Milk, Hazelnut Fig Milk, Peanut Milk and the Ultimate Cashew Milk. Nuts can also be used to make vegan cheeses like this Macadamia Nut Cheese and Herbed Cashew Cheese. Learn the Tips and Tricks to Make Nut Cheeses Extra Creamy and then try these 20 Amazing Vegan Cheeses You Can Make at Home. Nuts can be used to make ice cream, creamy sauces and vegan butter.
Similar to nuts, seeds can also be used to replace dairy in recipes. Read How to Use Raw Nuts and Seeds to Make Dairy-Free Salad Dressing and 5 Creative Ways to Use Hemp Seeds to Replace Dairy. Try making Sprouted Sunflower Seed Milk, Sunny Hemp Cheeze, Sunflower Seed Nacho Cheese, Chia Pudding with Blueberries, Creamy Chia Cheddar Sauce, and Creamy Pumpkin Seed Alfredo with Kale and Sweet Peas.
Yes, coconut is a nut but it is so versatile, it deserves its own category. Coconut makes some of the richest, creamiest milk. Learn How to Make Unsweetened Coconut Milk and then use it in any of these 15 Ways to Use Coconut Milk in Your Dairy-Free Recipes. Coconut kefir is a great replacement for yogurt or you could make your own Cinnamon Coconut Yogurt. You can even make Raw Yogurt in a Dehydrator. Use coconut milk to make Homemade Coconut Sour Cream and all kinds of Coconut Ice Cream. Coconut oil and coconut butter can replace dairy butter and cream in recipes.
Avocados have lots of fat so they are perfect for replacing dairy and making rich, creamy recipes. Take a look at How Avocados Can Easily Replace Dairy in All Your Favorite Creamy Dishes. Try avocado in place of butter in this Healthy Chocolate Avocado Fudge and in place of cheese in this Avocado Herb Pesto with Zoodles and this Garlic Herb Avocado Cashew Cream Cheese. Use avocados to make creamy ice cream and even pasta sauce like this Raw Zucchini Pasta with Creamy Avocado-Cucumber Sauce.
You already know that bananas make incredible ice cream like this Raw Banana Mango Soft Serve. But did you know that bananas can also replace butter, yogurt, milk, sour cream and even cream cheese? Learn How to Use Bananas to Replace Common Dairy Foods and then make this Banana Buckwheat Yogurt, Sugar-Free Wholemeal Banana Pancakes, and Chocolate Covered Banana Pops.
6. Nut and Seed Butters
Nut and seed butters are thick and creamy and can replace dairy butter in recipes. You can buy nut butters or you can make your own – there’s peanut butter, cashew butter, walnut butter, almond butter, hazelnut butter and so many more. See 10 Creamy and Delicious Nut Butters You Can Make at Home and how to make Homemade Tahini. Then check out 10 Delectable Ways to Use Nut Butter and 5 Dairy-Free Tahini-Based Dressings You Have to Try. Indulge in this Vanilla Maple Cashew Butter, Fudgy Chocolate, Pistachio, and Pumpkin Seed Butter Cookies, Cauliflower Crisps and Tangy Tahini Dressing and Orange and Almond Tahini Fudge Cups.
Pureed veggies can replace butter, cream and cheese in recipes. Sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, pumpkin and potatoes can all do double-duty in recipes. If you want creamy soup, just add a potato to the pot and blend it in. Make sweet potato frosting like these Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate “Buttercream” Frosting. Squash replaces cheese in this Mac ‘N Squash. Try this Creamy Pumpkin Coconut Pie, Butternut Squash Muffins and this Penne in Carrot Sauce. Cauliflower can also replace dairy as in this Vegetable Rigatoni with Creamy Cauliflower Sauce and this Super Creamy Mac and Cheese.
8. Nutritional Yeast
Vegans have been using nutritional yeast since the beginning. It has a salty, cheesy flavor that can transform recipes. Read all about the health benefits of nutritional yeast and 5 Reasons Why Nutritional Yeast Rocks. Use nooch to add cheesy flavor without dairy as in this “Cheesy” Whole-Roasted Cauliflower, Creamy Vegan “Not Clam” Chowder, “Egg” Salad Sandwiches and Cheesy Vegan Mac and Yeast.
9. Grains and Starches
There are some grains and starches that can be used to replace dairy in recipes. Maybe you’ve had rice pudding or risotto? If so, then you know that rice can get pretty creamy. Rice milk has a light, sweet flavor that is good for adding to coffee or pouring over cereal. Some people think rice milk has the closest taste to cow’s milk. Try rice milk in these Strawberry Lemon Zest Bagels and Black Sticky Rice Pudding. Oat milk is light with a mild, slightly sweet flavor. It is said to be comparable to low-fat or fat-free cow’s milk. If you’re unsure about how to choose a non-dairy milk, read Which Milk for What Recipe: A Non-Dairy Milk Guide for All Your Cooking and Baking Needs for all the answers. Tapioca can be used to make dairy-free cheese as the main ingredient or as one of many ingredients. Try this Vegan Coconut Gouda and this Fresh Moxarella.
Of all the non-dairy milks available, soy milk has the most protein and 75 percent more antioxidants than cow’s milk. It is hearty, rich and creamy and works well in almost every recipe. Use soy milk to make this Chocolate Chai Marble Cake, Pumpkin Spice Latte and Sriracha Tempeh Sliders with Ranch Dressing. When buying soy milk, choose organic or non-GMO varieties to avoid genetically modified soybeans. Try to find brands that do not contain carrageenan.
Silken tofu has a creamy consistency and can be blended into dips, puddings, dressings, sauces and smoothies as a replacement for dairy. Learn about silken tofu in What is Silken Tofu, How Is It Different and What Do I Do With It. Then use it to make Low-Fat Tofu Ranch Dip, Easiest Ever Silken Tofu Mousse, and Key Lime or Lemon Lime Bars.
Regular tofu can also be used to replace cheese and other dairy products. You have to try this Blueberry Ice Cream with Tofu and Cashews, Caprese Salad, Banana Cheesecake with Mango Sauce, Strawberry Cheese Blintzes with Tofu Ricotta, Tiramisu Brownies, Blue Cheeze Dressing, Tofu Ricotta Crostini and this Herb and Nut Encrusted Cheese Log.
With all these ways to replace dairy products, there is no reason to keep supporting such a cruel and unhealthy industry. If you want to learn more about how to ditch dairy, check out The 10 Most Helpful One Green Planet Articles for Dairy-Free Living.
Lead image source: Spreadable Almond Cheese 3 Ways