Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Are Your Dinner Guests Lactose Intolerant?
Dairy Alternatives That Will Keep Everyone Happy

How to ensure your dairy-intolerant guests 
have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Food Allergies and Preferences
Years ago you just had to count how many people were showing up for Thanksgiving dinner. How many kids and how many adults - that's it. But things are different now. Today, if you have more than two people coming for dinner, I would be willing to bet that someone has a food allergy or preference. It's important to take that into account when you are planning your menu. 

Since more than half the world is lactose intolerant, there's a good chance that at least one of your guests has an issue with dairy. It's important to ask ahead of time so you can plan accordingly.

Even if your guests tell you about their problems digesting dairy products, you may still be a little confused about what to do to your recipes so that everyone can enjoy the meal. I'll introduce you to some great dairy substitutes but first let me tell you what it means to be dairy intolerant.

What is Dairy Intolerance
A person is dairy intolerant if:
they are allergic to casein, the protein in milk, or
they are lactose intolerant and lack the enzyme lactase needed to digest milk.

Dairy includes milk and milk products such as:
Cream Cheese
Cottage Cheese
Ice Cream
Powdered Milk
Sour Cream
Any other food made from the milk of mammals. That includes dairy cows, goats, sheep, and camels. I must admit I haven't seen camel milk in the store recently, but you can actually buy camel milk from a company called Desert Farms in Santa Monica, California! Who knew? 

Some people tolerate dairy from goats and sheep (and maybe even camels) better than from cows but always check with your guests before you toss some goat feta in the salad.

Eggs are not dairy. Someone who is just avoiding dairy can eat eggs.

Dairy Alternatives
There are some delicious dairy-free products available that you can use in your recipes to accommodate your dairy-free guests and, in most recipes, your dairy loving guests may not even be able to taste the difference!

Milk and Cream
There are many alternatives to dairy milk. Soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, and hemp milk, to name a few, can all be used as a replacement. For everyday use, I probably enjoy almond milk the best. Whole Foods carries their own brand that is organic. These non-dairy milks can be used in most recipes that call for 1%, 2%, or skim milk. If you need a more creamy, dense milk to replace whole milk or cream, you can buy soy creamer or coconut creamer.

Substitute 1%, 2%, or skim milk with non-dairy milk.
Substitute whole milk or cream with non-dairy creamer.

Instead of butter, you can use Earth Balance. This buttery spread is vegan, lactose and casein free, gluten free and is non-GMO and it melts like butter. I've used it for years - it's great. They even sell a Shortening Stick that is handy for pie crusts. Olive oil is a healthier alternative to use on vegetables and in some baked goods. 

Sour Cream
If you want to make your mashed potatoes or twice-baked potatoes super creamy, blend in some Tofutti Sour Cream but make sure you get the one that is non-hydrogenated. For some odd reason they still continue to make one that contains trans fats. The non-hydrogenated one looks like this.

Tastes just like sour cream.

Dairy-free mashed potatoes are a snap by using Earth balance and Tofutti sour cream. To make them more moist, add the water from boiling the potatoes or some almond milk. 

Ice Cream
If you are looking for an ice cream substitute to top that dairy-free crisp, there are plenty of non-dairy frozen desserts. So Delicious makes some wonderful dairy-free ice creams made from coconut milk, almond milk and soy milk.

No need to skip the cheese and crackers now that Miyoko's Kitchen offers a wide selection of delicious artisan dairy-free "cheeses".  

Have a Happy Dairy-Free Thanksgiving!

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