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Lactose intolerance/dairy allergies

We get alot of emails like this one:

“I have a 2 year old grandson that has milk allergies. Trying to find recipes without dairy is very difficult. My daughter and her husband both work so I fix meals for all of us a lot. Most easy casseroles have canned soups or dairy in them. I need help finding recips and or replacement ingrediants so I can fix one meal and not two. We tend to fix him the same things over and over.

An example would be a chicken casserole with a can of nacho cheese soup in it.

Thanks for your help!

-Marcia Milner”

I myself had severe dairy allergies as a child which I eventually outgrew, thankfully, because I couldn’t imagine not being able to eat pizza or lasagna! But I know so many people who have these allergies or even irritation from lactose well into adulthood. Some friends of mine can’t even tolerate a teaspoon of cream in their coffee without getting stomachaches.

Note: I wouldn’t try this with a child, but I have heard some people say that when they drink organic dairy products, they do not have the same side effects of intolerance. It could be something else in the milk that is causing irritation to the stomach.

Make it yourself. If you or your child does have a milk or dairy allergy and you need to avoid it, my first suggestion to someone like Marcia, who sent us the email, would be to suggest starting with homeade food and ingredients. This way, you will always know what is going into your dish and and won’t have to worry about secret, hidden ingredients that may appear in a can of soup. The ingredients may be listed on the label, but sometimes funny names are used for simple things like sugar or dairy. Plus, if you or your child has a severe allergy, like some folks to do tree nuts especially, packaged food could have been prepared using the same equipment that was used to handle allergens like nuts. Worse yet, a nut product might fall into something being prepared that doesn’t list nuts on the label.

Try soy. There are many ways to get protein and calcium besides milk, but if you want a creamy liquid to use for drinks, like smoothies, give soy milk a try. Start with plain soy because the flavored kinds tend to have alot of sugar and once you get hooked on vanilla or chocolate, it’s hard to make the switch to plain, but it’s much better for you. I’d rather see you use plain soy milk in a shake and then add a sweetener like honey or agave syrup.

Alternatives. If you are concerned with calcium, there are tons of foods that have calcium besides dairy. Broccoli, for one, has loads of calcium along with other nutrients. If you are getting a wide variety of veggies and fruits, you should be good on that account, but do watch your vitamin D consumption-this is an important vitamin that has been added to milk. You may want to consider a multi-vitamin anyway, but it will help make up for whatever you are missing from milk.

Recipes without dairy. There are loads of recipes that contain no dairy, just look through our database and scroll through the ingredients. If there’s a pasta dish that calls for grated cheese to be passed at the table, just omit the cheese and make the recipe anyway. You could also try toasting breadcrumbs and sprinkling them on top of pasta as an alternative to grated cheese. It’s delicious! As for pizza, who says it has to have cheese? You could load it with fresh tomatoes and veggies and skip the cheese part or add a bit of soy cheese if you still want the texture of melted cheese.  When sauteeing, get in the habit of using EVOO instead of butter, it’s better for you anyway and can be used most of the time as a substitute.

Rachael Ray