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Foods that Contain "Hidden" Dairy Products

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Many seemingly dairy-free food products actually contain some form of dairy, whether it be in the form of casein, lactalbumin, whey or another dairy derivative. This list will help guide you through some of the less obvious food products that contain dairy.

Boxed Cereals and Cereal Bars

Pan of Fruit and Nut Chewy Cereal Trail Bars
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More boxed cereals than you'd ever suspect actually contain some form of dairy, even "health food" and "natural cereals." Usually, these will contain casein, nonfat milk powder or whey protein or whey protein isolates. Usually, however, these products will list in bold what allergens are present within, namely milk, nuts and soy, to make label-scanning a little easier.

Aside from the obvious "yogurt" varieties, many cereal bars also contain some form of dairy, typically butter fat, casein, milk powder or whey. While there are some dairy-free varieties available, you can also try making some of your own dairy-free cereal bars for breakfasts on the go, with this dairy-free recipe for Chewy Granola Bars or this oat & raisin squares recipe.

Breadcrumbs, prepared

© 2008 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Prepared breadcrumbs more often than not contain some form of dairy, be it butterfat, casein, dry milk powder, whey or some combination. An easy and delicious solution is to substitute traditional prepared breadcrumb varieties with panko breadcrumbs, which are usually not only dairy-free but also lower in sodium content. You can also use make breadcrumbs from dry, day-old dairy free bread simply by crumbling the bread with your hands.

Try a few of these non-dairy recipes that use panko bread crumbs:

Breads, Processed Sandwich

© 2008 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Processed sandwich breads, both white and wheat varieties, often contain casein, whey or nonfat milk powder and sometimes all three. Although there are exceptions, it is a good idea to seek out sandwich breads that are located in the refrigerated or frozen section of your local health food grocer, such as Ezekiel bread, as these rarely contain any dairy and are delicious, too!

This dairy-free white sandwich bread recipe is one of my favorites; there is something so special about really making a sandwich from scratch!

Breads, Quick Breads

© 2008 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Quick breads, such as banana nut, corn bread and pumpkin, almost always contain butter and milk. While some processed varieties may not contain actual butter, they will usually contain whey protein isolates and nonfat milk powder. Generally, if quick breads are non-dairy they will be advertised as such. The nice thing about quick breads, however, is that they are, indeed "quick" to make and "quick" to bake! Check out some of my dairy-free quick bread recipes for some lactose-free ideas:

Breads, Yeast Breads

© 2007 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.
While many yeast breads do not typically contain dairy products in their actual dough, such as French bread and sourdough, bakers will often bake these loaves in buttered pans or brush the crusts with butter as they bake. The only way to really be sure if this has been the case is to ask the baker. There are, however, many yeast breads that almost always contain dairy, such as Babka, biscuits, Brioche, cinnamon bread and croissants. While it is rare to come across these items without dairy, it is possible to make these dairy-free and so satisfying when they come out of the oven. Try some of my dairy-free yeast bread recipes, like this vegan chocolate babka recipe for some dairy-free ideas!

Crackers

Store-bought crackers almost always contain butter, butter fat or nonfat milk powder, although some natural and organic companies have started producing non-dairy alternatives that can be found at natural and health food stores. Crispbread crackers are an easy and healthy cracker replacement as well, such as Kavli and Wasa crispbread crackers, that rarely contain dairy.

Making your own dairy-free crackers, however, is really easy and gives you the ability to make festive shapes and add the seasonings and flavors of your choice. Here are a couple of my dairy-free cracker recipes to get you started:

Deli Meats

© 2008 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Dairy products such as lactose, casein, and caseinates are often added to processed meats and deli meats to act as an emulsifier or contribute to the flavor of the meat. Really, reading labels for most of these products is imperative in determining if they are dairy-free or not, but to make label-reading easier, look for meats labeled "Kosher" as these will be dairy-free.

Granola

© 2008 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Granola is traditionally prepared with a mixture of raw grains, dried fruits, nuts and seeds that have been tossed with a sweetener and either butter or oil. While there is no rule of thumb as to which granolas will use which fat, it is often the case that those that are oil-based will be labeled as such. Luckily, granola is incredibly easy to prepare and will make your home smell wonderful as it bakes. Try out some of my dairy-free granola recipes and see for yourself!

"Non-dairy" or "Vegetarian" Cheeses

© 2007 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.
While it is often the assumption that soy, nut and rice-based "cheeses" are non-dairy, it is also often the case that these contain some form of casein or whey proteins. Usually, these products will be labeled as "vegan" if they are dairy-free. Some dairy-free varieties to try are "Follow Your Heart," "Tofutti" and "VeganRella." You can also try making some of your own dairy-free cheeses-- check out some of my dairy-free cheese recipes for ideas!

Protein Bars and Energy Bars

© 2008 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Countless brands of protein bars consist of primarily whey protein, but even many soy protein bars contain dairy in the form of casein, lactose and milk powder as well as whey protein or whey protein isolates. As a marathon runner and a person who is very active in general, I know what it's like to need a protein boost NOW but also want to eat something that is healthy and tasty. This homemade protein bar recipe is a perfect dairy-free and egg-free post-workout snack; it is high in protein to help aid muscle recovery as well as carbs to help replenish glycogen stores.

Vegetarian "Meat" Products

© 2008 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.
In order to provide additional protein and act as an emulsifying and stabilizing agent, many vegetarian "meat" products contain casein or whey protein isolates. Typically, these products will be labeled as "vegan" or "casein-free" if they are dairy-free, and you can also look for vegetarian meat substitutes labeled as Pareve, as these will contain neither meat nor dairy products. Some good non-dairy vegetarian meat products are made by Health is Wealth and White Wave, but making your own seitan meat products is really easy and fun! Check out some of my non-dairy vegetarian entree recipes , such as this Seitan Chicken Kabobs with Dairy-Free Yogurt Dipping Sauce Recipe for some ideas.
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