Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dairy alternatives made simple!

Last week we looked at the controversial topic of dairy and the choices we have when it comes to consuming it – ‘normal’ or organic, homogenised or unhomogenised, pasteurised or raw, skim or full fat! But what if you voluntarily choose to skip the dairy or if your body rejects the stuff?

Lactose intolerance

If you have a lactose intolerance, you may find you are OK with butter, hard cheeses and even full fat milk in some cases. The higher the fat content, the more likely you are to be able to digest it. It really is a case of trial and error though – some people can only do butter, others butter and hard cheese, and some can tolerate dairy in moderate quantities but start to have symptoms past a certain threshold. 

Other types of dairy

If you have an intolerance or allergy to cow’s dairy, it could be to do with the fat-protein structure. Without getting too technical, the chemical composition of goat’s and sheep’s milk is different to that of cow’s and they are often easier to digest. Buffalo milk is another popular but slightly less readily available alternative.

Skipping the dairy altogether

If you can’t do cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s dairy, or you simply want to steer clear of it for reasons of your own, there is a whole range of dairy-free alternatives at your disposal.

Here are the most popular dairy alternatives:
Soy milk
Rice milk
Oat milk
Almond milk
Coconut milk

Soy is a controversial topic in itself, and one that requires a separate blog altogether! In a nutshell, some people do OK on it, others not so much. In large quantities it can have effects on the thyroid and on oestrogen receptors.

If you go for rice milk, make sure you choose one that uses brown rice. Oat milk is a bit of a divider when it comes to taste – some love it, some hate it (personally we are not fans). Almond milk is delicious but can be pricey and often contains added sugar. We recommend making your own (in fact, we have a nice easy peasy recipe coming your way next week!). As for coconut milk, it’s a great substitute in cooking and in smoothies.

The one thing you absolutely must remember, whichever non-dairy alternative you opt for, is to read the ingredients label carefully and avoid added sugars, malt, processed oils, refined salt (rock salt OK in small quantities), preservatives and any other unnecessary additives.

Stay tuned for our yummy almond milk recipe next week…

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