milkI had a friend approach me recently whose daughter was newly diagnosed with a milk allergy.  This same daughter had been diagnosed with Celiac disease just two years earlier and hunting down a suitable bread for her daughter at the time was hard enough… now they were about to embark on a similar process, but with milk now while still keeping gluten out of her diet.  Of course, she was feeling a bit overwhelmed about the whole adventure.

Off the top of my head I sent her a few quick tips and then realized that there are a lot of other people likely going through the same thing right now and decided to share it with all of you.  So here it is, the shortlist of our favorite dairy-free tips and products (not sponsored by these companies in any way) that will make the transition to a dairy-free lifestyle a bit smoother for you (of course, this list is also top 8 free as well):

1. Milk for Drinking

Coconut Dream by Imagine foods is by far our favorite milk substitute for drinking or pouring over cereal.  It’s naturally sweet, thick, and creamy.  If you’re looking for chocolate milk, we prefer So Delicious brand Chocolate Coconut Milk.  You can find both of these in the baking isle or health food section at many grocery stores, and of course, they can be found in health food stores, as well.

2. Ice Cream and Yogurt

Both So Delicious and Imagine Foods (Rice Dream) make these in multiple flavors.  You can usually find a small selection of these at your local grocery store, but if you want a much larger selection, go to your local health food store.  We don’t have any that we don’t particularly like, so pick a few and choose your favorites.  Another option, is to look for sorbet (not to be confused with sherbert) in the ice cream section of your local grocery store.  Most sorbet is dairy-free, but sherbet usually is not.

3. “Going Out” for Ice Cream

Many self-serve frozen yogurt parlors offer a dairy-free sorbet.  Call around to the shops in your area to find out who does so that you will be prepared the next time you want to take the family out for a treat.

4. Butter

Soy-Free Earth Balance tastes and acts like butter and is dairy free.  You can use it just about any way that you use butter… just don’t leave it out on the counter for too long.  It can melt at room temperature.

5. Heavy Cream

Making a recipe that calls for heavy cream?  Use full fat coconut milk (found in cans in the Asian section of your local grocery store).  Use the cream only, not the clear liquid that has separated from it while sitting on the shelf.

6. Cheese

Daiya is the only brand we have found that we don’t gag on while trying to eat it.  We haven’t experimented with all their products yet, but their cream cheese tastes just like the real thing to us and we have learned that with the cheese-style shreds, the flavor is pretty strong, so “less is more”.  In fact, we still prefer our pizza without any cheese at all, but will eat it with mozzerella-style shreds, no problem (as long as you don’t use too much).  Check out our latest recipe with Daiya and watch our blog… we think you’ll be seeing many more recipes using these products in the near future (in fact, we are working on a pretty fabulous one right now)!

7. Calcium

One of the first concerns I hear from people new to a milk allergy is “How will I get my calcium, now?”  The truth is, most people tend to get far more calcium than they need from those fatty dairy products they are consuming.  Much better sources of calcium are green vegetables like brocolli and kale.  Calcium in many of these vegetables is higher than what you’d find in dairy and absorbs into your system better as well.  Alisa Fleming over at Go Dairy Free has a nice chart of calcium sources to help you make sure you are still getting the calcium you need from your food.

Feel free to explore our recipes to find out how we like using these products the most, then subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss anything new and join our social network to be one of the first to know about coupons, promotions, and deals on these products.