It’s been five years and I can still remember — quite vividly, mind you — when delicious, delicious dairy decided to turn against me.
It was approximately 1:20 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon and I was at work. That particular day, for a snack, I had a small baggie full of Triscuit snack crackers (Original variety) and an equal amount of sliced, squared, block cheddar cheese. One by one I would place a square of cheddar cheese upon a Triscuit and munch, munch, munch away. It was the best snack, until I began to feel a tightness down below. That particular Tuesday afternoon would be the beginning of the end for me and all kinds of delicious dairy products.
If you, like me, can’t handle lactose — or you’re vegan, — then read on my friends, for I have some top notch alternatives and easy at-home recipes to get you through these non-dairy times.
1. BRAND ALTERNATIVES
There’s no doubt about the fact that I do miss cheese and pizza and sour cream and ice cream and butter and cream cheese and boy oh boy could I go on. Even though I do, on occasion, dabble in dairy, I have found several brand alternatives for cheese and other yummy dairy items.
Daiya was my first foray into the non-dairy world. The great thing about Daiya is there are so many different options. Various pizzas, cheeze (which they spell with a “z”), cream cheeze, cheezecake and other items that might satisfy your ooey, gooey, melty cravings. One word of warning with this specific brand regarding the varieties of cheeze: The cheeze is way better melted or cooked in some way. Eating a cheeze slice “raw” is not good. On the other hand, enjoying a “raw” chunk of cheeze block is VERY good, especially on a Triscuit snack cracker.
Go Veggie is another amazing alternative brand. Not only does Go Veggie have a variety of products in the same vein as Daiya, but they have another, unique option. You can choose between Lactose Free, Lactose & Soy Free and Vegan. Whoo! I’ve only had the pleasure of trying their cheese singles, but I can say, compared to Daiya, eating a cheese single “raw” is actually pretty tasty and the singles work great on sandwiches of both grilled and non-grilled variety.
Tofutti Cuties will forever be my go-to “ice cream” sandwich. When I bite into one of these delicious frozen desserts, I forget about real ice cream altogether and before I know, it I’ve devoured 3-4 of these little Cuties in one sitting.
Earth Balance is the buttery spread I use for absolutely everything that calls for butter. It’s got such a satisfying buttery taste and texture; even your most ardent dairy loving friends won’t be able to tell it’s not the real thing. Also, much like all of the above products, Earth Balance has many other food items for you to munch on.
So Delicious and Dream are two alternative brands that can help quench your desire for dairy free-beverages, yogurts and frozen desserts. I enjoy So Delicious frozen dessert pints for which they have many: Almond Milk, Cashew Milk, Coconut Milk and Soy Milk. As for Dream, it’s their Rice Dream Pies and Almond Dream Bites that really get my mouth watering. **Be careful as the two aforementioned Dream desserts are NOT safe for milk allergic individuals due to shared equipment but they ARE SAFE for lactose intolerant individuals.
2. MAKE YOUR OWN NACHO “CHEESE” WITH…POTATOES?
Did you know you can use something that is not cheese to make something that tastes and looks like cheese? Well, you can! Sweet potatoes make a great substitute for cheese and if you, like me, have been missing the deliciousness of nacho cheese sauce, then look no further. Another great recipe for nacho cheese sauce can be found on the vegan blog called Hot For Food which calls for regular potatoes and carrots to give the cheese dip a nice orange color.
3. HOMEMADE BAKED MAC AND “CHEESE”
Sure, there are TONS of recipes for Baked Mac and Cheese but, of course, I happen to think my own personal recipe is the best. Generally when I’ve made mac and cheese I’ve used Daiya shreds to delightfully gooey results. However, the last time I made this recipe I used 2 and one half packages of Go Veggie cheese singles with approximately the “one half” of cheese used for the topping. Adding bacon doesn’t hurt either (fakeon for our vegan friends)
As you can see, the recipe is well-loved! That’s how good it is. Here’s the transcription:
In saucepan, melt butter. Remove from heat, blend in flour, salt and mustard. Add milk. Heat, stirring constantly until sauce thickens a little and is smooth. Add 1-½ C. cheese, heat until melted, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cook macaroni as directed, drain. Combine with sauce in a 2qt. casserole, top with remaining cheese, bread crumbs, paprika. Bake at 375 for approx 20-25 mins or until nicely browned and bubbly. Makes 4-6 servings.
4. USE CASHEWS TO MAKE ALFREDO SAUCE
I’m Italian and I love all kinds of pasta and pasta sauces. However, because of my affliction, I can’t have most pasta dishes! One of my favorite sauces has always been alfredo sauce. Probably the cheesiest of all the sauces. Well, it’s a good thing that cashews exist and somebody figured out a way to turn a cashew into a dairy substitute. The first time I had cashew alfredo sauce I was beside myself. The best. Mangia!
5. VEGAN CHEEZ-ITS
Did I mention I love snacks? One of my favorite munchies has always been Cheez Its. These small, salty squares are perfect for popping in your mouth any time of day. If you’re a snack lover as well, but keep yourself away from all of the dairy-filled, high fat, salty goodness that is contained within any given snack, there’s an easy way to make your own.