PUREmamas Tips On Going Dairy-Free

GOING DAIRY FREE!  What a crazy idea. I mean, there really is NOTHING that tastes as good as cheese; there is no way to create the same taste and texture without dairy. BUT aside from taste, pushing cheese as a health food is quite a stretch, if you ask me! PUREmamas main contributor and integrated health specialist Christine Dionese, points out the notion that cow milk is the best source of calcium and vitamin D is simply not true. Far more bio-available (usable, readily absorbed) calcium can easily be found in a variety of plants, especially leafy greens. There are ways to incorporate some dairy into your diet and Christine will talk more about that in a post coming soon!

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But sometimes just knowing plants are better than dairy isn't enough to make the transition. Christine further explains:

Whenever I'm guiding a patient through any type of elimination diet I'm sure to help them create a positive plan focusing on abundance rather than lack. I consider two parts to the psychological component for successful food therapy plans: 

1. When you remove a food, be sure to account for all necessary nutrients. The brain makes certain neurotransmitters that regulate mood derived from specific nutrients. Look to the naturally derived nutrients a particular food contains before eliminating it so you don't get the blues. 

2. The brain naturally does not like to "go without" so may resist change. Patients often feel sorry for themselves a bit when they remove a food from their diet if they haven't been offered a plethora of new choices to try in lieu of the food being removed. 

Simply put - take one food away and consider it an opportunity to enrich the body with an abundance of new, healthy foods.

Today, I have some tips on how to replace the creamy, rich and cheesy without really missing the dairy! A clean, plant-based diet excludes animal products but if you do choose to eat dairy and you it meshes well with your body {no allergies} then read this post Christine wrote that serves as a guide to choosing the best dairy. And even a paleo diet, which includes meat, doesn't welcome dairy. Dairy is hard for many people to digest and pretty acidic in the body; not to mention, it's full of things like antibiotics, hormones, puss and other things that make it not as clean and fresh as it once was when families raised our own cattle and lived on farms. In other words, not all dairy is created equal. So make sure you choose the best kind. 

HERE IS A RANDOM LIST OF TIPS/IDEAS I HAVE TO NOT MISS THE DAIRY. TRY THESE SIMPLE IDEAS FOR A WEEK AND TELL ME HOW YOU DO! If you still crave cheese, don't worry, we all do! You can cheat every so often. Save cheese for a night out. I definitely can say that eating dairy-free at a restaurant can be extraordinarily difficult. So, save that craving for a special dinner at your favorite restaurant!

1. GRILLED MUSHROOMS - Mushrooms can be as fun as cheese and wine to explore and taste. There are many varieties and ways to cook them. Use grilled mushrooms instead of cheese in a salad or on pasta. Cook them down so they aren't wet. They become almost chewy and meaty. I do mine one the stove in tamari and coconut oil. Not too much oil and I end up cooking them for more than 15 minutes, stirring occasionally but letting them get brown on the pan. 

2. NUTRITIONAL YEAST AND MISO - In place of cheese in Italian Sauces or other "cheese" sauces use nutritional yeast and/or miso paste. They both add a creamy "cheesy" texture and flavor. I make my own tomato pasta sauce at home once a week at least. Instead of parmesan cheese I use both miso and nutritional yeast. It totally does the trick. Guests never know my creamy/cheesy pasta is dairy free! Plus miso is a fermented food {probiotic} - great for digestion and a complete protein {contains all the amino acids}. Nutritional yeast is high in B12. 

3. EAT/MAKE "CHEESY" KALE CHIPS AND SAVE THE CRUMBS - In one standard store bought bag of kale chips, there are as many calories, fat grams and {almost as much} protein as 2 eggs. Plus a plethora of great micro nutrients, vitamins and minerals. These chips taste like cheddar cheese...{I buy only this brand}. They are so good in fact that I even devour the crumbs by dumping them into my mouth when all is said and done. I realized this was getting out of hand and so instead I now save the crumbs in a resealable bag in the fridge. I can accumulate a lot of crumbs after a week or so. I use this on top of my salads. It really gives my salad the cheesiness that I crave. 

4. AVOCADO - fatty and creamy, this fruit often saves the day! Put in sandwiches in place of cheese, use on salads, make creamy dressings with it and even puddings and desserts. 

5. ASIAN CUISINE - I love Japanese, Thai and Chinese food because the flavors are wonderful and they almost NEVER use dairy! However, most of the time these restaurants use soy sauce in their sauces and dips. So I end up not being able to eat anything {gluten}! Instead, I make sushi at home, pho, pad thai, stir fries and other asian style dishes. I use tamari instead of soy and never do I worry about wanting cheese. Imagine cheese on top of sushi or cheese on pad thai? It's just doesn't seem right! 

6. COCONUT OIL - There are so many substitutes for butter now-a-days. Try some and choose a favorite. Instead of butter I use coconut oil for high heat cooking or oven baking.

7. WHIPPED GARLIC SPREAD - You probably have heard me talk about this stuff in the past. You can make your own at home or buy this brand or this brand in stores. This spread tastes rich and buttery. 

8. CASHEWS AND CASHEW CREAM - There are many easy tasty recipes  make a great alternative to dairy based soups {Like cream of broccoli or tomato soup}? Think sour cream for tacos

9. CANNED COCONUT - If you haven't used canned coconut for recipes, you're really missing out. You can make rich, creamy dairy-free ice cream with it or even a wonderful whipped cream. I make an amazing dairy free curry using canned coconut milk! 

10. HOMEMADE NUT CHEESE - There are a ton of recipes on the web for making nut cheese. Some require a dehydrator, others just require a day or so in the fridge, and some require no time at all. Try grounding up nuts and nutritional yeast into a fine powder. Use on salads or in recipes in place of cheese. 

11. HOMEMADE NUT MILK - replacing cow dairy with omega-3, vitamin and mineral rich nut and seed milks is delicious and adds a ton of variety to the diet. Because many popular brands are fortified and enriched with synthetic nutrients to resemble the nutrient profile of cow dairy, it is better to make nut milks at home. Try following my reicipe here. Christine's tips: If making it at home is not possible, opt for more small-batch, locally sourced nut and seed milks that are free of synthetics and preservatives.

12. COFFEE CREAMERS - This one is a really hard one. Half and half was the hardest thing for me to quit {and every so often, I indulge}. Coffee black is fine but coffee with half and half? AMAZING! Switching to tea instead of coffee in the morning {if hot beverages are your morning routine}, solved my problem. For some reason, unlike coffee, tea hides that oddf soy or coconut flavor but leaves you with a creamy taste. I love adding non-dairy creamers such as soy delicious to my tea {remember to steer clear of too much soy in your diet}. There are so many different flavors as well. 

13. TAHINI - Tahini dressing is creamy and rich. When you make a salad with tahini dressing or use tahini as a sour cream/sauce option, you really don't need cheese or dairy. It's so rich that additional cheese would be just too much for the recipe. Go ahead try blending tahini and lime juice for a really healthy, wonderful salad dressing. 

CHRISTINE'S TIPS FOR KIDS: 

For picky eaters/children try offering them alternative milks in the same settings they normally consume cow milk. Maybe you'll need to try making chocolate milk with a little cacao powder and vanilla extract. I find that a drop or two of organic vanilla extract does wonders in alternative milks. If you opt to make the milk at home, involve your kids in the process. My daughter is almost two and she's been in the kitchen with me her entire life. She's either been watching, tasting, mixing or playing with her tea-set and toy veggies. Cross some other not as important activity off your list and build time to expose your children to their food as much as possible. If they see you make it rather than pour it out of a box every time, it's going to elicit a significant impact on their curiosity. And hey, more meaningful time with the kiddos.

CHECK OUT THESE GOLD FISH FOR KIDS!