Natural Balance Foods

Dairy-Free Food Alternatives

Vegan Sources of Calcium

Are you looking for dairy-free alternatives to foods which traditionally use dairy? There are plenty of reasons why people go on a dairy free diet, some out of a lifestyle choice and others out of necessity; many love with dairy intolerances and allergies. You can find plant-based alternatives to a variety of different foods so you can carry on enjoying buttered toast, cereal, cakes or something sweet. These alternatives tend to come up trumps too when it comes to nutrition, and of course, taste! Our expert nutritionist Lucy-Ann Prideaux takes a look at some dairy-free alternatives to common foods:

Milks

Dairy-free milks are now widely available in all major supermarkets, as well as independent health stores. Look for almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, and oat milk which are possibly the most popular, as well as being delicious when used for smoothies, or enjoyed with oats, mueslis or granolas.

Of course you can make your own nut milks at home, simply by soaking nuts or seeds overnight and blending with water. Nut milks are best strained, and the pulp can be used in dessert recipes, curry sauces, or added to smoothies. All are nutritious and highly digestible too.

Find out more information in our marvellous vegan milk substitutes post.

Butters

Nut and seed butters are the best replacements to dairy butter. Almond butter, hazelnut butter and pumpkin seed butter offer some tasty twists and turns on the flavour and are very versatile, they’re perfect as spreads, additions to smoothies, or for homemade energy bars and desserts too. However don’t discount avocado, which is also known as “Midshipman’s butter”! This dates back to the 1700’s when European sailors used avocado as a spread for biscuits! There is also coconut butter which can be used in any way one might use dairy butter.

Cheeses

I think the best replacements or “alternative choices” to cheese are avocado, and hummus. Try blending avocado and hummus together with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard… a perfect creamy spread or dip! I also like cashew cheese which is simple to make and utterly delicious.

To make a cup-size amount, you will need:

  • 1 cup of raw, unsalted cashew nuts, soaked overnight in water
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of flaxseed oil, hempseed, rapeseed or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (a good source of B12)

Once the cashews have been soaked, rinse them and drain well. Put the cashews, along with all the other ingredients, into a blender or food processor. Blend or process until you achieve a smooth consistency, akin to a cream cheese. Scoop the “cheese” into a bowl, cover with cling film and allow it to chill in the fridge.

You can play around with this basic recipe, adding fresh herbs of choice, chopped olives, chopped chilli, ground peppercorns, organic tomato puree, or crushed garlic. The cheese will store in an airtight container in the fridge for about 5 days. It is best however, eaten as fresh as possible!

Cakes and sweet treats

Humans are programmed to love something sweet now and again, and we need never feel deprived when eating a natural, wholefood diet! Sweet treats and desserts using plant-based foods are some of the most delicious dishes you will ever taste! We have a selection of simplerecipes here at Nakd wholefoods, and the internet is awash with fantastic ideas and recipes, ready to be explored by the growing number of wholefood enthusiasts. Think about some of the following ideas to satisfy your sweet tooth…

Worried about getting enough calcium?

Here are some common foods that exceed milk (gram for gram) with their calcium content.

  • Raw almonds
  • Sesame seed butter/tahini
  • Flaxseeds/linseeds
  • Chickpeas
  • White beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Navy beans
  • Leafy greens - collard greens, turnip greens etc.
  • French beans
  • Brazil nuts
  • Seaweed and sea vegetables
  • Dried figs
  • Mung beans
  • Parsley

Here’s a more detailed look into vegan sources of calcium.

Daily tips to enjoy your plant-based diet…

  • Add ground flaxseeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds or pumpkin seeds to your morning muesli, porridge, fresh fruit or smoothie. This adds calcium, fibre and plenty of essential fats.
  • Try adding a teaspoon each of tahini and honey to fresh fruit for a delicious dessert.
  • Freeze pieces of fresh fruit like peeled banana and mango in zip-lock freezer bags. Remove and simply blend for delicious ice-cream and sorbets.
  • Keep your meals "GREEN" - choose daily portions of kale, spinach, watercress, cabbage, and broccoli, and make a large main course salad every day. Go for 5-7 different coloured foods before topping with fresh herbs, nutritional yeast, seaweed flakes, or seeds.
  • Soak chia seeds and raisins in almond milk for a quick and delicious dessert
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