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’ve never been able to eat dairy because I’ve been lactose intolerant my whole life.

I was always the kid who couldn’t eat the pizza and Dixie Cup ice cream at the birthday parties in the ‘80s.

As we get older, the foods we used to be able to eat, don’t go down as easily as they once did. From my personal experience and my research through Functional/Integrative Medicine, dairy can be highly inflammatory for many people, not just for those of us who are lactose intolerant (75% of the world, according to Mark Hyman, M.D.) or allergic to dairy. The problem is that casein, the main protein in milk, is hard for many people to digest. Casein proteins can create inflammation, which leads to health problems and symptoms.

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7 Ways to Add Creaminess to Any Recipe Without Dairy (Goodbye, Inflammation!)

Dairy Intolerance Symptoms

Here are a few symptoms you may experience after you eat dairy. If you encounter any of these symptoms, I suggest removing dairy from your lifestyle for at least 2 weeks (in my book, Eating Clean, I have you remove trigger foods such as dairy for 21 days) and then slowly add it back in to see if that’s the culprit.

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain

Trying Goat Milk & Cheese

Different foods will work for some of us and not others, which is why it’s key to listen to your body and how you feel after eating certain foods such as dairy. If you cannot eat cow’s milk you may be able to eat goat milk because even though the fat content of goat milk and cow milk is quite similar, the fat globules in goat milk are smaller. Also, goat milk is lower in lactose (milk sugars) than cow milk, which can make it easier for some people to digest. If you can digest either of these milks, please always choose organic varieties. I personally haven’t ever been able to eat cow or goat milk but I have many friends and family members that feel great while eating whole-fat dairy. We are all made up of different bacteria and our digestion and immune systems differ drastically. Do what works for you.

How to Create Creaminess Without Dairy, Sugar, Gluten, and Soy

Most people use heavy cream, cow’s milk, tofu, or other processed ingredients to make a recipe creamy but I highly suggest not using those ingredients if you want to eat healthy. Here are a few ways to get that yummy silkiness you’re craving without dairy, sugar, gluten, or soy!

  1. Soak nuts, white beans or gluten-free whole grains in separate bowls covered in water overnight. Drain the water, then blend the soaked and drained ingredients in a blender individually to create a creamy base you can add to your recipes for a creamy consistency.
  2. Add steamed and pureed carrots, squash, parsnips, rutabaga, pumpkin, sweet potato, and zucchini to soups, dressings, and sauces for silkiness.
  3. Add an extra ripe avocado to thicken up any soup.  If you’re a fan of pesto (like I am), you can remove the dairy-filled cheese from your pesto recipe and use ripe avocado in place of the cheese. Swap out pine nuts for walnuts and you’ll add a dose of omega-3s, too!
  4. Add a ripe or frozen banana to a smoothie for extra creaminess.
  5. Add a can of BPA-free full-fat coconut milk to soups and smoothies.
  6. Add a few scoops of mashed and roasted sweet potato flesh or butternut squash flesh for richness in a soup.
  7. Add gluten-free cooked rolled oats (oatmeal) to smoothies and desserts for thickness.

How to Eat Less Dairy

When you’re first removing dairy from your lifestyle, you may feel frustrated and confused because you’re so used to tossing cheese, milk and other foods that contain dairy into your diet. But, don’t fret. It gets easier.

You can start by looking at what dairy-containing foods you use the most and swap them out with non-dairy alternatives such as tossing cow’s milk and instead using almond milk, oat milk, cashew milk or any other dairy-free milk you desire. I personally use the Elmhurst 1925 brand; they’re the cleanest non-dairy brand I’ve seen because they only use filtered water and almonds! Then, when you’re comfortable enough drinking non-dairy milks, you can move on and make your own dairy-free cheeses. Slowly start to add in new dairy-free alternatives (here are a few of my favorites) to more food groups that you use in your home and you’ll feel less overwhelmed. This will help make your transition to a dairy-free lifestyle much smoother and easier on yourself and your entire family/friends. Go slow and be patient with yourself, you may be surprised how good you feel after you remove dairy from your lifestyle for a few days!

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