It’s been a long journey since I decided to cut dairy out of my life. At the time I wasn’t sure how I would manage without my milk, yogurt, cheese and—my biggest weakness—ice cream, but living with my digestive discomfort was just not worth it. Fast forward a few years and I don’t miss dairy at all. I have found tasty and easy homemade versions of all of my old friends (and all without soy, preservatives and emulsifiers I might add).
But it didn’t come over night – far from it. After years of scouring the Internet and experimenting in the kitchen I finally have a full arsenal of delicious, simple and healthy alternatives to choose from. Looking back I wish that there was a workshop or cooking class I could have taken to quickly get me to where I am today. And so I am hosting a workshop covering my best recipes to replace all your dairy favorites. (Details below.)
No Lactose Love
My guess is that many of you are sensitive to dairy and don’t even realize it. An estimated 70% of the population has lactose intolerance, characterized by bloating, gas, diarrhea and cramping after consuming dairy. Lactose is a sugar found exclusively in dairy products. When we are born we have the ability to break down the lactose in breast milk into glucose and galactose by producing the enzyme lactase. By the age of five, most of us lose this ability and become lactose intolerant. In fact, dairy is one of the top allergens (among corn, gluten and soy).
If you’re wondering how you could possibly get enough calcium in your diet without eating dairy products, you should ask yourself where cows get their calcium. Like other mammals (except humans), they only drink milk until they are weaned, but they do eat a lot of leafy greens in the form of grass. Leafy greens, as it turns out, are excellent sources of calcium. Other good sources are sesame seeds, rhubarb and sardines.
Also, know that taking in more calcium does not always equal stronger bones. Adequate levels of other nutrients are also needed to maintain good bone health including boron, magnesium, silica, vitamin K, and phosphorus to name a few. Aim to eat a wide variety of whole foods to make sure you’re covered.
These easy, cheesy kale chips offer a tasty way to get your cheesy kick with a good dose of calcium, vitamin K, manganese and carotenes. If you haven’t climbed the kale chip train yet, there is no better time. Since kale is so hearty and easy to grow you won’t have any trouble finding an organic bunch in most grocery stores, even in January. While kale can be sort of leathery if you don’t prepare it right, give them a little massage and time to crisp up in the oven (or a dehydrator) and they become delicate little crisps delivering whatever flavor you’re craving.
The Paleo Parmesan generously coating each chip can be prepared and used all on it’s own. Sprinkle it on salads, eggs, grain dishes, popcorn – you name it – wherever you want a little extra cheesy kick.
Kickin’ it Dairy Free Workshop
I’ll be sharing my best dairy- and soy-free versions of all your favorites including mac n’ cheese, ice cream, nut cheeses, how to make your own custom nut milk blends and so much more! If you’re in the Anchorage area I would love to see you there!
 Maha LK, Escott-Strump S. Food Nutrition and Diet Therapy. Philedalphia, Pa: W.B. Saunders. 1996:625-626