Whether you’ve decided to go dairy-free for health reasons, nutritional concerns or ethical reasons, it can seem like a challenge at first – so many dishes in many cultures rely on dairy, and so many store-bought foods contain any number of dairy products. But, not to fear—it actually can be easier than you think, and, as a result, you’ll end up making and trying so many dishes that you may have never even thought of before!
Here are some suggestions that can be helpful when making the change to a dairy-free diet:
- 1.Learn what dairy-derived ingredients to look for when reading labels.
There are so many foods that contain “hidden” dairy products, that reading labels can be a frustrating, though important, task to get used to. However, once you’ve learned what to look for it will get easier! When persons new to the dairy-free diet ask me for “tricks" when reading labels, I usually suggest that they look for products labeled “vegan,” “dairy-free” or “pareve” as these will contain no dairy ingredients, whereas products labeled “non-dairy” often still contain milk proteins or other dairy-derived ingredients.
- 2.Stock your pantry with dairy-free ingredient staples.
After you’ve stocked your kitchen with dairy-free pantry staples, learning to prepare your favorite recipes will be a breeze! Find a local grocer or market near you or an online distributor that carries the products you like and keep a small store on hand, so you’ll always have plenty of lactose-free options for you and your family.
- 3.Find dairy-free substitutions for dairy products you use frequently in cooking and baking recipes.
Whether you’re someone who prefers to make all of your dairy-free substitutions yourself or you’d rather find prepared dairy-free substitutes that you can purchase at your local store, keep the same amount on hand that you would if it were the dairy product that it’s replacing.
- 4.Try some new recipes!
- Dairy-Free Appetizers & Dips
- Dairy-Free Brunch Recipes
- Dairy-Free Cake Recipes
- Dairy-Free Chocolate Recipes
- Dairy-Free Cookie Recipes
We humans are stubborn when it comes to changing things as routine as diet, but changing over to a new way of eating is a great way to explore new tastes and flavors that you might not have otherwise. So try different ethnic foods or new cooking methods, and you’ll probably end up realizing that you’ve widened your options instead of reducing them!
Here are a few of my favorite dairy-free collections to help you get started:
- 5. Find a few “easy” dairy-free meal and snack solutions, and make these readily available.
Especially if you’re cooking for a dairy-free kid, keeping quick and simple recipes and snacks available is important in not only eating well but also maintaining a positive relationship with food. Keeping quick meal and snack options that you enjoy on hand is an easy way to avoid feeling “deprived” of foods you love. These homemade dairy-free kids’ snacks are some of my favorites, and several can be made in advance and frozen or stored for a later time.
For quick pancakes, waffles and desserts, these dairy-free baking mixes and dairy-free pancake mixes are easy to find at larger grocers as well as health food stores, and cut down on some of the time and the mess of making these recipes from scratch.