From soy to almond and coconut, there are plenty of alternatives to your favourite dairy products out there – we share some of the best ones and what to use them for.
There are so many dairy free alternatives to milk on the market now that it’s actually very simple to swap. You might want to try a few different milk alternatives before you settle on your product of choice, as they all taste quite different.
- Soy milk is easily the most popular alternative. You can buy it sweetened and unsweetened, and while once brands like Alpro dominated the market you can now find cheaper supermarket versions near the dairy fridge as well. It’s great for cereal, lattes, hot chocolates, baking and (when unsweetened) in sauces. You can use it in tea and coffee just like normal milk, but it’s a good idea to add the milk to the cup first and then pour in your brewed tea or coffee to avoid any separation of the milk. Soy milk has roughly the same amount of protein as cow’s milk, no cholesterol and hardly any saturated fat. Most soy milks are also fortified with vitamins and minerals, and often with calcium.
- Almond milk is growing in popularity and gives a subtle nutty hint to food. Just like soy milk it’s readily available in most supermarkets, in both the fridge and long-life aisles. Again it’s great for cereal, baking, hot drinks and sauces. Almond milk contains fewer calories than soy milk, no saturated fat or cholesterol, with good levels of calcium vitamin D and vitamin E. It has less protein than most other dairy free milks so you will need to make sure you get protein from another source.
- Rice milk can be a little sweeter and thinner than soy milk or almond milk, but it’s a firm favourite with lots of people and worth trying for yourself. It’s becoming more common to find rice milk near the dairy section in supermarkets, as it’s a good choice for people who are allergic to dairy and soy. Rice milk works well in cereals and cooking just like the other sauces. It has less protein and calcium than normal milk, so look out for brands with added vitamins and minerals in them.
- Coconut milk may seem like a luxurious choice, but that’s really because in the UK we are more familiar with the rich, tinned variety. Tinned coconut milk is fantastic for desserts, sauces, curries and soups, and with an increasing supply of light coconut milk available it can be a healthy choice, too. There are also coconut milk drinks which can sometimes be found near soy milk in supermarkets, which is coconut cream thinned down with water and with added calcium. This can be a good replacement for dairy milk in cereal, tea and coffee.
Oil is the most obvious and easy replacement for butter in cooking, and it can often be better for you. Try olive oil, rapeseed oil or coconut oil for a healthy and tasty alternative when you’re frying meat or vegetables.
There are lots of dairy free spreads on the market too which can be used on toast, in sandwiches and in baking. Vitalite and Pure are two of the biggest brand names of dairy free spreads, and Pure comes in a range of flavours.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle for a lot of people who want to cut down on dairy is the idea of cutting out cheese. There are lots of ways you can substitute cheese for dairy free alternatives.
Head to a health food shop like Holland and Barrett or do a quick search online and you’ll find that there are plenty of options available. Some supermarkets like Tesco have their own ‘free from’ range of alternatives to cheddar, soft cheese and mozzarella. There are special dairy free cheese brands like Cheezly and No Moo available in health food shops.
As with dairy milk alternatives, you should experiment with cheese alternatives and see what you prefer. Some people might find that they like mozzarella style dairy free cheese on a pizza most, while for others it could be homemade almond cheese on crackers.
Once you’ve found your preferred dairy free milk, cheese and butter replacement, you can branch out and start trying different dairy alternatives, like:
- Dairy free cheese sauces
- Dairy free ice cream, like Swedish Glace
- Soya yoghurt
- Soya custard
Do you have a favourite dairy alternative?