October 24, 2013

How to Love a Dairy-Free Lifestyle. ~ Tina Paymaster

With all the controversy over dairy these days, many people are choosing to go vegan and give up this popular food group altogether.

Whether it’s for health reasons, such as avoiding hormones and antibiotics, food allergies, improving digestion or ethical reasons (such as the treatment of animals), there is a growing demand for dairy alternatives in everything from ice cream to pizza.

I found out I was lactose intolerant about five years ago and I thought life was going to be incredibly boring from that moment onward. I knew I didn’t want to feel sick anymore, but I also couldn’t imagine a life without cheese and ice cream. My love for cooking and health inspired me to start experimenting with other ingredients besides dairy to create delicious meals that not only tasted great, but made me feel great too.

Here are a few natural and healthy ingredients you can use to add creaminess to the dishes you’ve always loved, without needing any dairy at all.

  1. Potatoes—add puréed potatoes to soups and sauces to thicken them and create a heartier dish.
  2. Cauliflower—popular in everything from mac-and-cheese to pizza crust, puréed cauliflower is a great way to create creamy sauces and soups, without the added calories and fat of traditional cheeses and creams. You will also get added fiber, antioxidants and important anti-inflammatory nutrients by adding this vegetable to your meals.
  3. Cashews—soak and blend cashews with water, lemon juice and a touch of sea salt for a vegan sour cream. Cashews are also popular in vegan desserts, adding a buttery and sweet flavor to energy bars and decadent cream sauces. They are high in healthy monounsaturated fats that are good for your heart, as well as copper and magnesium, which are vital for healthy bones, hair and skin. Try my chipotle cashew cream recipe.
  4. White beans—much like potatoes, white beans can be puréed into sauces and soups to lend a lighter color and thicker consistency. White beans are high in protein and fiber, which will create a more satisfying meal, control your blood sugar and improve your digestion.
  5. Nutritional yeast—This popular vegan condiment can be used in kale chips, soups, salad dressings and sauces to lend a cheesy flavor to just about any dish. Nutritional yeast is a great source of protein, Vitamin B12 and folic acid.
  6. Avocados—This super-food is a great addition to any diet. Blend avocados into pesto, sauces, dressings and smoothies to create creamy versions of your favorite foods. In addition, try blending it with some cocoa powder, almond milk, vanilla and dates for a decadent vegan chocolate pudding. Avocados are full of healthy monounsaturated fats, the kind that actually helps you lose weight. In addition, they are rich in fiber, potassium, B-vitamins and folic acid.

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Assistant Ed: Bronwyn Petry / Ed: Catherine Monkman

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Tina Paymaster