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Dairy free food simply refers to food items sans milk or lactose, while dairy foods includes cow's milk, cheese, butter, cream, ghee, yogurt. Many cooks consider dairy items as essential as they add a rich voluptuousness to all types of cooking from curries to cream cakes. Is it possible to go in for dairy free cooking? Find out more. Learn simple dairy free recipes.


Why dairy free?

Vegans are those who avoid food made from animal products. While some people have difficulty digesting lactose, which is a naturally occurring sugar in animal milks including human milk, there are others who are allergic to cow's milk.


Milk protein allergies and lactose intolerance coupled with lethargy or weight gain, crippling migraines and 'auto immune' type syndromes are all life style complications attributed to dairy products which is the most common source of lactose. Recent research studies, though not conclusive, link diary to prostrate cancer, breast cancer and type I and II diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol and heart disease.


There are a few who may consider consumption of dairy as 'unnatural', as it is food added to diets after industrialization. In some families, if a member is intolerant to lactose or allergic to milk, they adopt a dairy free lifestyle to avoid tempting a loved one and help them enjoy a balanced diet. Some choose to cut milk from their diets due to a strong social issue it brings up, as the use of added hormones and antibiotics, homogenization and pasteurization of milk creates an unhealthy product for human consumption.


Diary free lifestyle becomes mandatory for anyone who may be allergic to milk or intolerant to lactose. For some others, a diary free food habit can help subside migraine, reduce cholesterol, increase energy levels and result in permanent weight loss but healthier muscle mass.



Dairy products alternatives

  • While raw animal milk and soft cheeses such as ricotta, mozzarella, feta and cottage cheese contain high levels of lactose, natural yogurt, butter and aged cheeses such as parmesan undergo a natural process which dramatically helps reduce the lactose content in them. Those who are lactose intolerant should be able to consume these foods without any ill effects.

  • Milk from animals including cows, goats, sheep and humans all contain lactose. Goats or sheep's milk is therefore not a suitable alternative for people who are intolerant to lactose.

  • Cow's milk contains a number of proteins which can provoke a mild to severe reaction by the body's immune system. Milk protein can cause digestive, skin, respiratory problems, headache and a range of other conditions. This condition is relatively common in children who grow out of this reaction by their teens.

  • Almond milk is a great substitute for cow's milk and it can be used in every aspect of cooking and baking as well. Almond milk is a little sweeter than cow's milk and it is high in vitamin E and other essential nutrients. It is creamy and it can be found as non-refrigerated boxed beverage.

  • An excellent alternative to cow's milk would be coconut milk and oil/butter. Coconut oil can be used instead of butter for baking and it can also be used as a spread.

  • Oat milk has long life and is excellent for cereals and savory dishes. However, its porridge like flavor may be considered strong for desserts.

  • Rice milk has a long life; it is thinner and sweeter than cow's milk. It is most suitable for desserts, sweet drinks and rice milk ice cream is also commercially available these days.

  • Soya milk is the richest non dairy milk alternative. It has density through fat, fiber and protein content and it is still free from cholesterol and saturated fats. It is excellent for baking, cooking and is a bit more stable in higher temperatures. Soya cheese taste somewhat similar to cow's milk cheeses. Soya cream is a good substitute for single cream and soya milk is widely available in many flavors both fresh and long life.

Dairy free cooking


According to a recent study conducted in the US, nearly 4% of 100 kids are living with food allergies, which is an 18% increase over the decade prior. The new study which reviewed the top eight food allergens with milk at the top of the list was an eye opener. Dairy free products are available aplenty these days. Allergy free friendly chocolates for the discerning chocoholic, irresistible cakes fresh from the oven for the vegans, gluten free soups, quiches and bakery produces are all milk free.


There are many stores that sell several varieties of non dairy milk alternatives both as non refrigerated boxed products as well as refrigerated products. However, many of these stores carry non dairy milk substitutes instead of a dairy free milk alternative for the dish.


Dairy free recipes

These dairy free recipes are significantly healthier than traditionally prepared with dairy ones. At the same time, these dishes are immensely delicious for the discerning tongue.


Chocolate chip cookies

Coconut oil for greasing
Wheat meal flour 125 g
Baking powder 1 teaspoon
Soft brown sugar 50 g
Cinnamon 1 teaspoon
Carob powder 4 teaspoon
Pinch of salt to taste
Chopped dates 50 g
Sweetened soya milk 100 ml
Rapeseed oil 75 ml
Vanilla essence 1 teaspoon
Finely grated orange rind 1 teaspoon
Chocolate dairy free and coarsely grated 25 g


Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and grease with coconut oil. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Place flour, sugar, cinnamon, carob powder, salt and dates in a bowl and mix them well. Add the soya milk, oil and vanilla essence and beat with electric mixer.Stir in the orange rind and grated chocolate. Place the mixture on the prepared baking sheet and smooth the tops with a wet knife. Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes and cook on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.


Sweet potato coconut cream soup

Groundnut oil 1 teaspoon
Onion peeled and finely chopped 1
Garlic clove crushed 1
Ginger fresh and peeled 1.25 cm
Sweet potatoes peeled and diced 675 g
Lemongrass chopped 1 tablespoon
Vegetable stock 1 pint
Coconut cream 1 pint
Salt and freshly ground black pepper for taste
Juice and zest of 2 limes


Heat oil in a large pan and fry the onion, garlic and ginger until tender. Add sweet potatoes and lemon grass and cook for about 3 more minutes. Now add stock and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer and cook covered for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Now cool the soup slightly and then liquidize with half of the coconut cream and process until smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan and add the remaining coconut cream. Season with salt and pepper. Now add the lime juice and heat throughout without bringing the soup to boil. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with lime zest.


Vegan Bread Pudding

Whole grain bread cubes 8 cups
Dried cranberries 1 cup
Apple pieces finely chopped 1/2 cup
Pecans finely chopped 1/2 cup
Cinnamon 2 teaspoons
Ginger 1 teaspoon
Nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Almond milk plain 4 cups
Canola oil 1 teaspoon
Maple syrup 2/3 cup or 2 teaspoons
Cinnamon custard dairy free for topping


Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly oil four 2 cup heat proof dishes and set aside. In a medium sized bowl, mix the bread cubes, cranberries, apple pieces, pecans, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the almond milk, canola oil and allow this mixture to rest for about 10 minutes. Portion the mixture into prepared dishes and bake until golden brown for about 30 minutes. Drizzle with syrup and serve warm with dairy free cinnamon custard.


Healthy pumpkin cookies

Pumpkin puree 3/4 cups
Dates finely chopped 8 ounces
Olive oil 3 teaspoons
Maple syrup or honey 2 teaspoons
Rolled oats 2 cups
Almonds finely ground 2/3 cups
Coconut unsweetened and finely shredded 1/3 cup
Cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon
Ginger 1/4 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Baking powder 1 teaspoon
Dairy free chocolate chips 1 cup


Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Combine the ingredients pumpkin puree, dates, olive oil and maple syrup in a blender until creamy and set aside. In a medium sized bowl, combine rolled oats, ground almonds, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, salt and baking powder until well mixed. Stir the pumpkin mixture well and fold in the dairy free chocolate chips. Drop the dough in moulds and bake on the top rack for about 15 minutes until the cookies turn golden brown. Serve warm.


Onion meat balls

Minced beef 450 g
Pork sausage meat 450 g
Onions finely chopped 2
Sage and onion stuffing mix 125 g
Egg beaten 1
Salt and pepper to taste
Oxtail soup condensed 200 ml
Green pepper, deseeded and cut in rings 1
Red pepper, deseeded and cut in rings 1
Mushroom sliced 200g


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix meats, onions and stuffing with egg and season well. Form them into small balls. Place the balls closely together in a casserole dish and cover with pepper and mushroom. Make soup and pour over. Bake for about one hour fifteen minutes and serve hot with rice.


Sweet and sour turkey

Tomato large 1
Cucumber 30g
Green pepper 1/2 small
Onion small 1
Vinegar 2 tablespoon
Soy sauce 2 tablespoon
Brown sugar 1 tablespoon
Chili powder 1/4 tablespoon
Oil 1 tablespoon
Garlic clove crushed 1
Turkey cooked and cubed 350 g
Corn flour 1/2 teaspoon
Bean sprouts 125 g


Cut up the vegetables. Mix vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and chili pepper. Heat oil and fry the garlic. Add turkey and fry for 2 minutes. Now add vegetables and fry for further 2 minutes. Stir in vinegar mixture, cover and cook for 2 minutes. Blend corn flour with water and stir into the sauce to thicken. Stir in bean sprouts and reheat. To be served with noodles or rice.


Meat broth soup

Lamp necks or shanks/ beef or chicken bones 500 g
Water 12 cups
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Pearl barley 1/2 cup
Carrot 1/2
Onion 1
Potato 1
Celery 2 stalks
Parsley chopped 2 teaspoons


Soak meat and bones in water with salt and pepper for about 30 minutes. Bring pot slowly to the boil. Rinse pearl barley and add when soup is boiling. Simmer for about an hour. Prepare and dice vegetables to 1 cm and add to soup. Simmer for about 15 minutes before serving. Remove fat and bones, and add meat back to pot. Adjust flavor if necessary and stir in parsley.


Crisp vegetable pancake

All purpose flour 2 cups
Eggs beaten 2
Canola oil 1 tablespoon
Scallion 5 green parts sliced lengthwise
Chives 20
Carrot peeled and grated 1
Yellow squash trimmed and grated 1
Rice vinegar or white vinegar 1 tablespoon
Soy sauce 3 tablespoon
Sugar 1 teaspoon


Mix flour, eggs and oil with 1 1/2 cups of water in a medium bowl and bring to a smooth batter. Stir scallion greens, chives, carrots and squash. In an 8 inch non stick skillet, over medium heat coat the bottom with oil. Ladle in about a quarter of the batter and spread it out evenly. If the pancake is too thick to spread easily, add a little more water to batter. Turn heat to medium and cook until bottom is browned in about 3 minutes. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes. Adopt the same procedure for the remaining batter. Drain the finished pancakes on paper towels. In small bowl mix vinegar, soy sauce and sugar together. Cut pancakes into small triangles and serve with dipping sauce.


Orange poppy seed muffins

Flax seeds 1 tablespoon
Soy milk 1 cup
Poppy seeds 1/2 cup
Whole wheat pastry flour 1 1/2 cup
Unbleached white flour 1 1/2 cup
Baking powder 1 tablespoon
Baking soda 2 tablespoon
Salt 1 tablespoon
Cardamom ground 1 teaspoon
Maple syrup 1 cup
Canola oil 3/4 cup
Fresh orange juice 1/2 cup
Pure vanilla extract 2 tablespoon
Orange peel grated 2 tablespoon


Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat 2 1/2 inch muffin cups with cooking spray. In a food processor, grind flax seeds and transfer to blender along with 1/2 cup soy milk. Let it soak for 5 minutes. In a small skillet, toast poppy seeds over low heat until fragrant. Stir constantly for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool. In a large bowl, sift flours, baking powder, salt and cardamom. Stir in the poppy seeds. Add maple syrup, oil, orange juice and vanilla extract and remaining 1/2 cup soy milk and blend thoroughly using a blender. Add orange peel and pulse to combine. Add maple syrup mixture stirring with wooden spoon until blended.


Spoon the batter into prepared cups, filling each till about three quarters full. Bake for about 20 minutes or till done. Let cool for about 10 minutes in pan. Remove carefully running a knife around edge of cups and turn muffins out onto wire rack. Using a pastry brush spread Orange Glaze over muffins if desired. Fresh orange juice, sweet maple syrup and poppy seeds add loads of flavor to these muffins.


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