Both of these choices seemed crazy to me. How could I give up ice cream and cheese?
As a dietitian I figured I should know what I could and couldn’t have, but in that moment I was at a loss. So many of the foods I ate had either dairy or soy.
In the end I realized that my son needed me to make these changes so he could feel better. So, I decided to embark on a dairy and soy free lifestyle knowing that most babies outgrow these allergies as they get older. Avoiding dairy and soy hasn't been easy and I have found few resources to help guide me.
Here are some tasty soy and dairy free items that I have found and enjoyed. In the end, I’m happy to say that dairy and soy free eating isn’t so bad!
Surprisingly, dairy was easier to avoid than soy. I knew I would have to eliminate the obvious: milk, ice cream, yogurt, cheese, and butter. I went to my local Whole Foods to see if I could find dairy free alternatives because surely I wouldn’t have to spend the next few months cheese-less!
These are a few brands of dairy free foods that I have found to be surprisingly good:
- Daiya makes cheese slices that actually melt and taste like cheese. They also make a delicious cheese cake and pizza. I recently found their macaroni and cheese and will be trying that shortly.
- Kite Hill makes ricotta cheese that I use to make lasagna, as well as some fancy cheese spreads which I have served to guests who aren’t dairy free – they didn’t complain! Kite Hill also makes a cream cheese spread and raviolis.
- Heidi-Ho makes a chia cheese in a couple different flavors, like smoky or spicy, which makes a great pasta sauce.
- Earth Balance puts out a soy and dairy free buttery spread.
- So Delicious has cashew milk ice cream which has a similar texture and consistency to real ice cream. They also offer coconut and almond milk ice creams worth trying.
The biggest drawback for many of these products is that they have less protein than many dairy options. Since dairy had been a big part of my diet, I knew I would have to be careful to eat enough protein from other sources.
Once I moved beyond the obvious sources of dairy, I found that I needed to closely read the label of every cookie or cracker because many of them do contain some kind of milk protein.
Why did I care about having cookies and crackers still around? Well, life happens, and while I do try to make most things at home, sometimes having a grab and go snack is necessary.
Here are a few on-the-go dairy-free snacks:
- Enjoy Life makes all kinds of goodies, like cookies, snack bars, chips, and chocolate chips! A bonus is that all products are free from the top 8 allergens so anything they make is safe for someone with these allergies.
- Graham crackers (honey and chocolate)
- Plain cheerios
- Nature valley Oats n Honey granola bars
Since my son’s issue was also potentially soy, I had to be even more cautious. This is where things get tricky.
Soy is in so many things that you might not expect, such as bread and mayonnaise. Cutting out obvious soy products, like edamame, tofu, miso, and soy sauce, is easy, but finding products without soy additives, like soy oil and soy lecithin, is more difficult.
Some people with a soy allergy can tolerate soy lecithin and soy oil, but if you can't then cutting out soy means avoiding most processed and packaged foods.
Most of the dairy-free products I mentioned above are also soy free, but some of the grab and go items do have soy additives.
Avoiding soy and dairy has made it hard to eat at restaurants, although some restaurants are good about accommodating food allergies. In the end, I find it easier to cook at home. I swap out milk for almond or coconut milk, and I replace butter with coconut oil spread.
I will leave you with some of my favorite dairy and soy free recipes, which I highly recommend even if you don't need to avoid dairy and soy. Enjoy!
- Spaghetti Squash Casserole
- Creamy Pumpkin Pasta
- Crock-pot Chicken Chili
- Banana Almond Butter Muffins
- Rice Crispy Treats