Wednesday, May 1, 2019

My Favorite Lactose-Free & Non-Dairy Foods for the Miserable Dairy Lover

I eat mostly lactose-free. I started cutting dairy out off and on through my twenties, when I realized that dairy was making me sick sometimes. Five years ago, I developed a super severe intolerance to lactose that wouldn't go away, and I would get an upset stomach almost every single day. I had to go completely non-dairy for a while to clean out my system and when I re-introduced dairy, it was only if it was lactose-free. It was really hard to go off dairy at first. It's in practically everything we eat in America.

Just a little side-note, my Japanese roommate in college said Americans smell like CHEESE. How gross is that? I'd way rather smell like spices than like curdled dairy. GROSS. Americans eat a LOT of dairy.

For all you lactose-free friends out there that can't find good foods, or for you newbies who are feeling distraught, these are some of my favorite lactose-free or vegan dairy foods, for when you need to feel like you're eating all the dairy again but don't want to get sick.

Special Notes: If I list it as lactose-free it has lactase enzymes added to the food to make it digestible for those of us lacking the lactase in our guts (this is what causes lactose intolerance in the first place.) Most of the products listed are available at several grocery store chains. I mainly shop at Smith's/Kroger, but do occasionally branch out to other chains, as you'll see throughout my products listed. I also have a list of websites at the bottom so you can search the products for yourself and find them in your area. 

LACTOSE-FREE MILK

I really struggle to tolerate vegan milks. I can't stand soy milk. Almond milk has a pretty decent flavor, but leaves my mouth a little dry. If you aren't allergic to cow's milk, and just have issues with lactose, these lactose-free cow's milk dairy products will make you happy. It's REAL dairy without the stomach issues later! I use this for cooking, cereals, drinking, etc.

Look for Lactaid or store brand Lactose-Free Milks of any brand. Every major grocery store chain has their own store brand, and Lactaid brand is available at almost every grocery store. We shop at Smith's, but have tried lactose-free milk at Target, Walmart, Fresh Market, Trader Joe's, Macey's, etc. The two pictured below are what we buy regularly. Fairlife chocolate is thick and creamy, and has protein in it as well. It's amazing.

Pictured:
Kroger 2% Lactose-Free Milk - $2.99 1/2 Gallon
Fairlife Chocolate Milk - $3.99 1/2 Gallon


LACTOSE-FREE & VEGAN ICE CREAM

Most vegan dairy ice creams, like coconut milk or almond milk based, freeze really hard, requiring a lengthy thaw before eating, and also cost about $5-8 per pint. It's a major let down for ice cream lovers and I would often skip the thaw and stab it with a fork, but I prefer soft ice cream. One day at Target, I saw a cheap brick of Breyer's lactose-free vanilla ice cream, made with REAL dairy and kind of flipped out over it. It was the same price as regular ice cream, not marked up an astronomical amount like the tiny vegan pints. It was everything I'd been missing. It scooped easily onto cones, it was slow churned and soft, and it tasted freaking amazing. Then, products began to improve, and I found more and more flavors of lactose-free ice cream by other brands, and more stores began to make soft vegan ice creams as well. Below are my favorite soft lactose-free and vegan ice creams.

Pictured:
Kroger Lactose Free Peanut Butter Fudge Swirl (this one has mini pb cups!) - $2.99 48 oz.
Whole Foods 365 Mint Chocolate Chip Almond Milk Ice Cream - $4.99 Pint
Breyer's Lactose Free Vanilla (seriously the best vanilla I've ever had in my entire life) - $5.99 48 oz.


LACTOSE-FREE SOUR CREAM

This stuff tastes great, has a thick consistency, and isn't super overly priced. You can slather it all over your burritos and nothing's gonna hurt your insides except maybe those extra spicy chilies. I find this stuff at Whole Foods or Sprouts Market.

Pictured: Green Valley Organics Lactose Free Sour Cream ~$3.99 for 12 oz.

LACTOSE-FREE CREAM CHEESE

Green Valley Organics also makes lactose-free cream cheese, too. I like to slather my bagels in this stuff, or mix it with salsa. It can be used anywhere a recipe calls for cream cheese. I find this stuff at Whole Foods or Sprouts Market.

Pictured: Green Valley Organics Lactose Free Cream Cheese ~$3.99 for 8 oz.


LACTOSE-FREE COTTAGE CHEESE

This is pretty self-explanatory. It's cottage-y cheese, guys, but it doesn't make you hug the toilet or clear a room with your farts afterward. I'm not even sure there's a vegan option for cottage cheese, but I know this... I don't want to try it. Below are my favorites that I've tried so far. I get them at Whole Foods and Smith's.

Pictured:
Green Valley Organics Lactose Free Cottage Cheese - ~$3-5.00 for a 12 oz.
Kroger CarbMaster Cottage Cheese With Peaches - $1.00 cup


LACTOSE-FREE YOGURT

I really struggle with vegan yogurts. They just don't taste right to me. So, I go the lactose-free route on these, too. My favorites can be found at Whole Foods and Smith's.

Pictured:
Green Valley Organics (4 flavors, thick and creamy) - $1.79 cup
Kroger CarbMaster Yogurts (16 flavors, basically Yoplait quality, without the lactose issues) - 40 cents cup

SHREDDED VEGAN OR NON-DAIRY "CHEESE"

Ok, this one has been a journey that has taken half a decade. Vegan cheese just always falls flat and severely disappoints me. The flavor is always way off, and it can get the consistency of velveeta cheese... gross. A couple weeks ago, I found So Delicious's new vegan "cheese" shreds, and bought a bag to test. First, it had the soft consistency of freshly grated cheese, and tasted great straight out of the bag. It tastes a hell of lot like real cheese. I was surprised, and excited, so, I made a grilled cheese out of it (something I hadn't had in years!) I kid you not, it was the best surprise when I discovered it tastes great melted, and gets gooey and messy like real melted dairy cheese. My sandwich was delicious. So, the next day I also made a quesadilla, and then later that week tried baked mac and cheese. It tasted great in every recipe. This stuff is amazing. I found it at Whole Foods.

Pictured:
So Delicious Cheddar Jack Shreds - $4.79 bag


WEBSITES TO CHECK:

Green Valley Organics - super fresh tasting.
So Delicious - their product list is expanding, and some of their new oat milk stuff looks divine.
Smith's Food and Drug - affordable un-fancy lactose-free stuff.
Whole Foods - all the vegan goods you could need.

I hope this helps you transition to lactose-free dairy living, or I hope it helps those of you who are already there find better tasting foods! If you know of anything else I may not have tried, that is delicious, please let me know in the comments. Good luck with your lactose-free journey!

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