It’s always hard when someone has to alter their diet whether it’s from food allergies or intolerances or for personal or other reasons. Dairy sources work so well in many dishes providing a creamy texture, a salty flavor, or in the summertime, a sweet treat! Well, I hope to provide you with a few tips on eating dairy free and how to add flavor and richness back to some of your favorite dishes.

One common question I hear after eliminating dairy from their diet is how one can ensure they are getting adequate calcium and/or vitamin D into their diets. Dairy is a great source of calcium, but there are many more wonderful foods that have this important mineral. To start off, the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) is 1000 mg for adult males and females and those over the age of 50, 1200 mg/day is recommended. Children, pregnancy, and breastfeeding mothers require higher amounts.

*Some great sources of calcium include:

  • Sesame seeds (1/4 cup = 351 mg)
  • Fortified orange juice (6 ounces = 378 mg)
  • Collard greens (1 cup, cooked = 226 mg)
  • Tofu (4 ounces = 100 mg)
  • Kale (1 cup, cooked = 94 mg)
  • Broccoli (1 cup, steamed = 74 mg)
  • Summer squash (1 cup, cooked = 48 mg)

and Spices

  • Basil, dried, ground (2 tsp = 63 mg)
  • Cinnamon, ground (2 tsp = 55 mg)
  • Thyme, dried, ground (2 tsp = 54 mg)

In your dairy free dishes, non-dairy milks work well as a substitute. These milks are also fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and other vitamins. Soymilk (unsweetened) has higher protein compared to other milks, while coconut milk has great flavor and a richness that can enhance your dish. There are also great non-dairy yogurts on the market…coconut yogurt, almond yogurt, rice yogurt, or coconut kefir. Instead of using butter to stir-fry or sauté with, try coconut oil.  In baking, when using coconut oil use ¼ cup less than you would of butter (ex. 1 cup butter, use ¾ cup coconut oil). For a salty flavor, try experimenting with nutritional yeast. It has a great cheesy, salty flavor. For a sweet treat, Tempt ice cream is delicious!

*Food sources of calcium from © 2001-2011 The George Mateljan Foundation.


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