Top Five (Clean) Foods for making “dairy-free” easy

Whether you’re already enjoying a plant-based diet, lactose intolerant, or have eliminated dairy while breastfeeding due to a baby’s sensitive tummy, it can be hard to find dairy-free options without sacrificing quality ingredients. Here are my top five favorite foods that make going “dairy-free” easy.

1. Kite Hill Artisan Almond Milk Yogurt

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To say we love this yogurt is an understatement. If your whole foods is out of stock, it might be because they are all in my fridge. We love it’s dairy-free, soy free, and gluten free ingredients. This traditionally cultured yogurt is free of preservatives, artificial colorings and contains live cultures. It tastes so clean and the texture is exactly what you’d hope for.

It pairs beautifully with ‘Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Granola’ which is always our first choice. Its an all organic granola baked in coconut oil and sweetened with organic coconut palm sugar. Whole foods bulk section also carries some great options like their French Vanilla and Maple Almond granolas. These you scoop yourself and for $3.99/lb they are a cheaper option.

2. Earth Balance Avocado Oil Spread

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If you’re looking for that perfect substitute for butter on toast, or cooking an egg, this is it. Although this spread is not organic it consists of non-GMO vegetable + avocado oil (palm, avocado and canola) and is free of trans fat, which means the oils have not gone through the chemical process of hydrogenation to enhance, flavor, texture and increase shelf life. I do want to emphasize this is for cooking, not baking. I attempted a frosting with it. The result was a crumbly, oily mess. If you’re baking brownies or cookies, Earth Balance carries vegan butter sticks (with a soy free option) for your baking needs.

3. Heidi Ho Plant-based cheese or Homemade Nacho Southwestern “Cheese” Dip

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“The buzz about Heidi Ho’s Vegan Cheeses has been on the rise ever since the Portland-based company got its start back in 2011. Then, after co-Founder Heidi Lovig made an unforgettable appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank last year, (scoring a deal with Lori Grenier), the company has helped changed people’s perceptions of plant-based cheese in a major way.

The good news is, they’re now national. Whole Foods is carrying them coast to coast. Whole Foods isn’t the only retailer to carry Heidi Ho — it’s also available at Sprouts markets and plenty of other spots (check the store finder on the company’s website to see where it’s on sale near you).” These organic, vegan creations are great for dairy-free nachos, some mean mac n cheese, or drizzling over broccoli and baked potatoes. It’s also great as a cheese dip straight from the jar.

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The company has five products that non-dairy eaters should be clamoring to get their mouths on. The options include a Creamy Chia Cheeze, Spicy! Chia Cheeze, Smoky Chia Cheeze, and Ne Chèvre, a live-culture cashew cheeze in Pure and Black Lava varieties.

The recipe below is a Nacho Southwestern “Cheese” Dip from the 5 star recipe book ‘Naked Nutrition,’ written by Annie Miller and Amy Choate. The book can be purchased on amazon. Naked Nutrition Whole Foods Recipe Book There isn’t a recipe book I would recommend more.

Nacho Southwestern “Cheese” dip
Recipe by Naked Nutrition

1-1/2 cups raw sunflower seeds or cashews, soaked at least 1 hour
1/2 cup water
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
3 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. lime zest
1-2 drops lime essential oil, optional
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
2 tsp. taco or fajita seasoning
1-1/2 tsp.salt

If using cashews, rinse them well. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor with the “S” blade and process until smooth and creamy. Add water to reach desired consistency. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 5 days.

4. Almond Milk

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Homemade Almond Milk

1 cup almonds
4 cups water
2 Tbsp. sweetener
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Strain by pouring the milk through cheese cloth or a nut milk bag. Refrigerate and use the nut pulp for cookies, muffins, etc.

Almonds boast a pretty impressive nutrient profile. The brown layer of skin is largely concentrated with antioxidants. They are among the world’s best sources of vitamin E, with just one ounce providing 37% of the recommended daily intake according to the USDA. In addition, the recommended intake for magnesium is 310-420mg. Two ounces of almonds provides 150mg, almost half of the recommended intake of this very important mineral that most people do not get enough of with our magnesium depleted soils.

However, almonds like other raw nuts and seeds are high in phytic acid, a substance that binds certain minerals and prevents them from being absorbed, which means, you want to soak the almonds for at least 7 hours-overnight before making almond milk, if possible.

Radiant Life puts things into perspective for us: “Soaking nuts can be time consuming, and it is important to know that the process is worth investing in. Generally, a robust and healthy digestive system can tolerate a certain amount of phytic acid and a varied diet will compensate for the actions of enzyme inhibitors without a problem. However, if you consume many high-phytate foods or use a lot of nut flours or legumes in cooking, then soaking will prove very useful. Many individuals don’t even realize that they have trouble digesting raw nuts until they have nibbled up a handful of properly prepared ones. Plus, it becomes hard to resist the amplified taste and crispy texture that soaked nuts and seeds take on.”

Below is a guide on how to properly soak, which increases the bioavailability of important nutrients and activates enzymes that increase nutrient absorption.

Radiant Life’s Complete Guide to Soaking Nuts & Seeds

5. Hampton Creek Caesar Dressing or Homemade Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing

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I know this dressing says caesar, but it really tastes like ranch. We use this dressing for so many different dishes and snacks, like loaded veggie wraps, pasta salads that call for a ranch/mayo dressing, nachos, kale chips, carrot sticks, pizza, and tacos.

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The only limit to what you can do is your imagination. So the next time you’re on the world’s largest catalog of ideas a.k.a. Pinterest, you can keep those dairy recipes pinned, but use your delicious replacement instead!

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This next dairy-free ranch option comes from the lovely raw foods chef, Karen Lefgren at Respectfully Raw Foods in Logan, Utah. Say hello to your new secret weapon.

Homemade Cashew Ranch Dressing
By chef Karen Lefgren
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups soaked cashews or 2 cups soaked sunflower seeds
½ cup sunflower oil
1 cup purified water
¼ cup lemon juice
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
2 Tbsp. dried chives (1/4 cup fresh chopped)
1 tsp. dried parsley (2 Tbsp fresh chopped)

Directions:
In a high speed blender combine all ingredients except chives and parsley. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add chives and parsley and blend on low until well incorporated. Store in a glass container in refrigerator. Keeps for 10+ days.

Respectfully Raw is located on 155 Church Street Logan, UT 84321

Karen is a certified raw food chef and holistic health coach; graduate of Diet for Living Center of Natural Nutrition. She prepares nutrient-rich organic live foods each week and is open Wednesday-Friday from 10am-4pm.

All of her food is prepared with purified water and takes at least two days to prepare due to soaking and sprouting.The benefit of sprouting and soaking is that it activates and multiplies all of the dormant vitamins, minerals, proteins, and essential fatty acids found in raw seeds, grains, and beans. Soaking gives dates and nuts a creamy texture that milk would provide.

She uses the highest quality organic sweeteners, oils, seeds and grains that are prepared properly and to perfection. She is dynamic, efficient and always coming up with new ideas. We feel so lucky to enjoy the best food this state has to offer for lunch, a birthday, or bridal shower. We savored her raw lemon chewies for ella’s birthday last year. For catering, visit: Respectfully Raw Catering

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